Monday, December 13, 2010

Bike Counts in Three NOPA Locations Surge in 2010 Citywide Survey

Counting bicyclists at Masonic and the Panhandle Path for the 2009 Bike Count

Mariana Parreiras, an SFMTA intern at the time, counted bikes for the 2009 count

Three locations in or near the North Panhandle saw significant increases in the number of people on bikes during the 2010 Bike Count conducted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).
  • The Golden Gate and Masonic intersection registered a 26% increase over last year's count during the evening commute, 5 - 6:30 pm
  • At the intersection where the mixed-use Panhandle Path crosses Masonic, the number of riders jumped 7% , from 228 to 244, during the morning commute, 8 to 9 am
  • The third location at Fell and Scott streets reflects much of the bike traffic that originates in NOPA or travels through the neighborhood. That pivotal intersection saw a 10% increase from 2009, registering 410 bicyclists during the evening commute.
All three NOPA locations saw a greater number of riders than the citywide jump of 3% for 2009. The SFMTA report cautions that the bike count reflects a snapshot of ridership during specific hours on a given day.

Two of the locations experienced remarkable increases when compared to the 2006 count:
  • Masonic and the Panhandle: from 152 riders in 2006 to 244 in 2010, a 61% difference
  • Fell and Scott: from 202 riders in 2006 to 410 in 2010, a 103% change.
On a city-wide basis, the percentage difference of cyclists from 2006 to 2010 is a rocketing 58%.
These high percentages are especially significant since the bicycle injunction kept the city from making virtually any improvements for biking in the city from 2006 through most of 2009. (The injunction was partially lifted in November 2009 and completely removed in August 2010).

The SFMTA conducts the annual bike counts in August when the weather is expected to be dry with moderate temperatures. This past August was unseasonably chilly, however, especially on the days of the bike counts. In NOPA the temperatures were in the low 60s with wind and fog that seemed "almost raining" to the SFMTA intern counting the bikes. How much the weather affected bike ridership is uncertain.

All three NOPA bike count locations are under scrutiny by neighbors, road users, and park advocates:
  • Golden Gate and Masonic sits at midpoint of the corridor that neighbors and the SFMTA hope to re-design to better accommodate all road users. The Masonic community review process culminated in selection of the Boulevard design option to keep traffic at the posted 25 mph speed limit while also enhancing transit, bicycle, and pedestrian uses.
  • The Panhandle Path at Masonic has been the site of collisions between motorists and cyclists. In addition, strollers using the path complain of sharing space -- and near-misses -- with high-speed cyclists, and cyclists counter that walkers often wander from their side of the path. In addition, Panhandle Park advocates and neighbors have called for installation of a new, separated bike lane on Fell Street to increase the safety for walkers and casual bikers on the multi-use path. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has proposed a preliminary design to Connecting-the-City with an east-west Fell Street component.
  • The block of Fell between Scott and Divisadero has been the site of protests against the Arco service station and the traffic configuration near Divisadero. At the same time, the SFMTA experimented with several design changes that seem to have reduced the traffic tangle and the blocking of the bike lane.

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