Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Transportation numbers for San Francisco

According to the US Census Bureau, the transportation numbers for San Francisco didn't change much between the 2000 Census and 2005.

We can compare the 2005 numbers with the 2000 numbers in the "San Francisco County Transportation Authority's Countywide Transportation Plan" of July, 2004. The SFCTA cites the 2000 Census numbers as it compares the "Commute Mode of San Francisco Residents, 1990-2000" on page 40 of that document. 

In 2000 10.8% of city residents carpooled to work, while that number in 2005 dipped to 8%. In 2000 31.1% of city residents rode transit to work, while in 2005 33% did. The 2000 Census showed that 1.9% of city residents commute by bicycle, and the 2005 numbers say that number is up to only 2% in the intervening five years, making the SF Bicycle Coalition's goal of 10% by 2010 highly unlikely.

Other numbers we should keep in mind: There were 460,150 motor vehicles registered in San Francisco as of January 1, 2007: 378,576 automobiles, 63,438 trucks, and 18,136 motorcycles/motorbikes.

According to the "San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet" put out by the Municipal Transportation Agency in March, 2006, 261,181 "non-residents" commute into the city every weekday, though it doesn't break it down by which "mode" of transportation these people use. MTA notes that the "total daytime increase in vehicles" in the city is 35,400 on "a typical work day," with 20,000 of those coming over the Bay Bridge and 13,100 coming over the Golden Gate Bridge.

had 685,000 "boardings" on an average weekday in 2004/2005, with 461,491 boardings on an average Saturday and 375,291 boardings on Sundays.

According to the SF Visitors Bureau, the city had 15.7 million visitors in 2005, and they spent $7.3 billion in local businesses, with $418 million in tax and fee revenue going to city government. 4.5 million people stayed in city hotels in 2005, generating $179 million in hotel tax revenue for city government. Of those 4.5 million people staying in city hotels, 25.8% rented cars, which means 1,125,000 rental cars driving into SF in 2005 alone.

We can draw at least one conclusion from these numbers: Redesigning city streets---taking away street parking and traffic lanes to make bike lanes---on behalf of the 2% of the population who ride bikes would foolishly make traffic in the city unnecessarily worse and probably damage our important tourist economy.

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At 3:52 PM, Anonymous dxw said...

I imagine the number of bicycles in San Francisco easily exceeds the 460,000 registered motor vehicles...

At the global level, there are about 1.4 billion bicycles in service and only about 400 million cars, making bicycles the most popular vehicle in the world.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The point I'm making here is not about the numbers of vehicles per se but the use of those vehicles. According to the latest numbers, only 2% of city residents commute by bicycle while 214,660 (more than 50%) commute via automobile, with another 130,000 (30%) commuting via transit. Hence, it seems reasonable to question the Bicycle Plan, which wants to take away street parking and traffic lanes to make bike lanes.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous dxw said...

The point I'm making is not about the numbers of vehicles per se either. My point is that bicycles could realistically carry a much greater load of the transportation demand in San Francisco, especially if street parking and traffic lanes were taken away to provide dedicated space for bicyclists, which has been proven to increase the number of people bicycling.

According to the latest Bay Area Census, of the 322,000 San Franciscans that both live and work in San Francisco, 103,000 (32%) commute in single-occupant automobiles. Given the size of this City, their trips cannot be more than about 7 miles in length, and most are much less than this, meaning that bicycling is a reasonable alternative for most of these trips.

Also of note - 28.6% of San Francisco households have no car available. Folks living without a car should have the option to bicycle for transportation, and that option is greatly enhanced for many when dedicated facilities are provided for bicycling.

It is reasonable to question the Bicycle Plan *if* you believe that San Francisco should continue to plan for City residents to commute via automobile. However, given the environmental, social, and economic destruction that comes with reliance on automobiles, planning for increased bicycling seems quite logical.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm not going to repeat all the numbers on automobiles that are already in the post you're responding to. Your commute point is unconvincing, since a lot of city commuters drive out of the city to jobs elsewhere.

The trouble with taking away traffic lanes and street parking based on nothing more than a PC bias for bicycles is that it just makes traffic worse for everyone, including Muni and emergency vehicles with no guaranteed corresponding rise in bike use.

People without cars---like me, for example---already have the option of riding a bike in SF. But like me they also understand that no matter how many bike lanes are painted on city streets, cycling is still a risky way to get around the city. Without the PC political motivation, a significant number of people aren't going to be willing to risk their lives just to get to work.

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous dxw said...

The majority (56%) of San Francisco workers both live and work in San Francisco, so I don't see how my commute point is unconvincing. ALL of these trips are less than 7 miles, which is why I'm focusing on them.

What evidence do you have to support your claim that "cycling is still a risky way to get around the city"?

Consider these facts:

If you look at fatality and injury rates, traveling by bicycle is actually MUCH safer than traveling in a car. In the US, there are 1.3 fatalities per million vehicle miles driven, compared to 0.2 fatalities per million bicycle miles ridden. For injuries, there are 99 injuries per million vehicle miles driven, compared to 15 injuries per million bicycle miles ridden.

Bottom line - people who drive to work are MUCH more likely to be injured or killed than people who bike to work, so your opinion about people being unwilling to risk their lives by riding bicycles is based on complete fiction. And of course these facts do not begin to account for the many health benefits associated with daily physical exercise, which serve to lengthen average life span.

You write: "The trouble with taking away traffic lanes and street parking based on nothing more than a PC bias for bicycles is that it just makes traffic worse for everyone, including Muni and emergency vehicles with no guaranteed corresponding rise in bike use."

But you fail to account for the much larger troubles that arise if we continue to plan for most San Franciscans to get around in private automobiles. Travel by private auto is the least energy efficient way to move about this city - what logic is there in continuing to plan for that?

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your commute point is unconvincing because not only do 214,660 residents of SF commute by car---which is more than 50%, by the way---but because thousands more commute into the city by car from elsewhere every weekday. And more than a million visitors/tourists rent cars in SF every year. Taking away traffic lanes and street parking with nothing but the hope that people will stop using cars in SF is just plain nutty.

There are in fact no reliable numbers on injuries to cyclists. Could you give us a citation for your numbers?

At 10:21 PM, Anonymous DXW said...

Numbers came from the Federal Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

dxw: So I'm supposed to do the research with these agencies to verify your argument? Not likely, pal.

I can give you some specific cites from the city's Bicycle Plan itself: "Although there is empirical and anecdotal evidence that bicycle collisions are underreported, those that do get reported provide a strong indication of roadway behaviors that negatively impact cyclists' safety." (Framework Document, page 6-3). In one of its more sensible proposals, the Bicycle Plan advocates developing a system to get more reliable numbers about cycling injuries: "Action 6.11 Develop a system for hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics to report all instances of bicycle injury to the SFPD and to the DPT Bicycle Program Manager." (page 6.11) On the next page, there's a reference to "the many unreported bicycle collisions believed to occur in San Francisco." (page 6-12)

The problem with cycling is that when anything goes wrong, you have no protective shield like you do in a car. It's simply too counter-intuitive to deny that reality.


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