Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Traffic in SF: Now and in the future

Photo by Scott James for Bay Citizen

As the Chronicle reported today (below in italics), San Francisco has the third worst traffic congestion in the country, behind only Los Angeles and Honolulu.

According to the DMV, there are 458,093 motor vehicles registered in SF (I subtracted the trailers from the total). According to the MTA's Transportation Fact Sheet, only 21.6% of city households don't have a car, down from 28.6% in the 2007 Fact Sheet. 78.4% of city households have a car.

There's a 35,400 "increase in vehicle population in the city on a typical work day."

Nevertheless, San Francisco is implementing various anti-car "improvements" to city streets to encourage more people to ride bicycles, even though ten years of such projects has increased cyclists from 2.1% of city commuters to only 3.5%. There's no evidence that continuing these policies will do anything but make traffic worse for everyone, let alone increase cycling to 20% of all trips in the city by 2020.

Think traffic in the city is bad now? Wait until the traffic caused by City Hall's recent Smart Growth projects starts to kick in, like Treasure Island (16,700 new residents), Parkmerced and the 19th Avenue corridor (16,850 new residents), the Market and Octavia Plan (10,000 new residents), and UC's housing development on the old extension property on lower Haight Street (1,000 new residents).

A prediction: These developments will make traffic so bad that the Big Thinkers in the MTA will renew their push for Congestion Pricing in downtown San Francisco. But what about 19th Avenue? Congestion pricing on a state highway? 

Gridlock: Nope, it wasn't just your imagination: San Francisco has some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation.

Beating out jammed-up East Coast cities such as New York and Boston, San Francisco ranked third in the country for worst traffic congestion in 2011. Inrix, a company that specializes in traffic and navigation, released its 2011 traffic scorecard Tuesday.

On average, San Francisco drivers were stuck in traffic for about 48 hours in 2011, the findings show. Traffic in the city tends to hit its peak on Thursdays, from 5:45 to 6:00 p.m.

No other Bay Area cities made the top 10, but the East Bay earned some recognition for having the No. 10 most congested corridor in the nation, according to the scorecard. The stretch of Highway 4, from the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART Station at Bailey Road in Bay Point to Somersville Road in Antioch, takes a driver 16 minutes on average to drive through, with about 11 minutes of delay.

It's no surprise that Los Angeles, where terms like "Carmaggedon" are born, ranked higher than San Francisco for worst traffic---No. 2 on the list with drivers having wasted on average 56 hours in traffic, and four corridors on the top 10 most congested list, But No. 1 on the list is actually a city in paradise. Drivers in Honolulu wasted about 58 hours in 2011, according to the findings.

But overall, researchers at Inrix found that traffic has dropped nationwide by about 30 percent in 2011---something company CEO and President Bryan Mistele attributes to Americans wanting to save more money in a bad economy and high gas prices.

Cities showing the biggest drops in congestion---San Francisco was one---were those cities where gas prices exceeded the national average at its April 2011 peak. San Francisco beat out the national average, $3.96, by 29 cents.
- Vivian Ho

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At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didn't read the article. The places responsible for the congestion stats are

1) The Bay Bridge onramps
2) US-101 from Brisbane to the Market/Octavia touchdown
3) US-280 from Daly City to Ocean
4) 19th Avenue
5) Doyle Drive

None of those places have bike lanes. In fact, bikes are prohibited.

Go ahead and censor the post. The truth hurts.

At 7:18 PM, Blogger blobree said...

Interesting. I clicked on the 2011 traffic score card link and there was no indication what San Francisco meant. I often find that statistics like the take into account the SF Bay Area not just the City of San Francisco. Seems like some shoddy reporting at best.

At 8:30 PM, Blogger blobree said...

What's unclear for the Chron article and the 2011 Traffic Scorecard is what exactly San Francisco encompasses. The notes on the study state these are metropolitan areas. Is the metropolitan area SF or much of the Bay Area (which honestly seems more likely). Do you spend more time sitting in your car on the freeway/bridge or on surface streets in the City. That said your arguments against small growth in the city are flawed. You should be more concerned about exurb growth with out PT.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This is about traffic congestion in San Francisco, which presumably means the city limits. Your comments are muddled and miss the point of the post: traffic is already bad, and the city's reckless approval of these development projects is going to make it a lot worse in the future. Bike lanes are only an aggravating factor, a crowning touch to the whole mess.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger alai said...

In the "US Corridors" section of that 2011 traffic scorecard you linked to, you can see which specific corridors in San Francisco [sic] are the worst. Top three are CA-4 eastbound, CA-4 westbound, and 580 westbound.

Must be all those danged bike lanes.

On the bright side, San Francisco was among those "showing the biggest drops in congestion"! So, apparently, whatever we've been doing is working.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, the reduction in traffic volume is evidently due to the recession and the price of gas, not enlightened policies by SF. The point of the post is that traffic is already bad in the city, and, because of the city's misguided "smart growth" development policy, traffic is going to get a lot worse. The bike lanes are a relatively minor factor so far, though your Masonic Avenue project might be the first of a number of traffic-snarling, anti-car bike projects.


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