Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Portland and SF: People choose cars

Photo by Michael Lloyd for the Oregonian

From Tuesday's Portland Oregonian:

Despite significant investments in transit and bike systems, the overall number of trips taken in automobiles in the Portland metro area has barely decreased in the past two decades, according to a new transportation study. Whether it's the daily work commute or a quick dash to the supermarket, people choose to drive about 84 percent of the time, the Metro household survey shows. That's a downward shift of just 3.6 percent since 1994, the last time the regional government conducted a comprehensive survey of household travel patterns...Bicyclists make up about 4 percent of daily commuters and nearly 3 percent of all trips, the survey shows. In 1994, only 1 percent of those trips were taken by bike.  ("84% of Portland region's trips by car," Joseph Rose).

As a percentage of all trips in the Portland metro area, cycling has increased only 2% in 18 years? That's a .11% gain per year. We're doing a little better in SF: in 2000 cycling was 2.1% and in 2010 it was 3.5% of all trips, a .14% gain per year---after ten years of anti-car, pro-bike propaganda from City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition!

The study here was for the Portland metropolitan area, whereas the SF numbers I cite are only for San Francisco. Portland's study required a regional study to see if their heavy investment in light rail to the suburbs was paying off. Apparently it isn't, since few in Portland's burbs are choosing to "go by streetcar." If cycling in the whole Bay Area region was included, the percentage would be much smaller, since SF has more cyclists than the rest of the region.

I don't know about Portland, but according to the DMV there are more motor vehicles registered in San Francisco now (458,093) than there were in 2003 (446,184), the first year for which I have a DMV total (I always subtract the trailer numbers).

See also the MTA's Mode Share survey (page 5), which puts the percentage of all trips in SF by bicycle at 3.4%.

Unlike Portland, San Francisco is not investing heavily in rail systems, with the notable exception of the Central Subway boondoggle. But SF is investing in cycling, as it redesigns city streets based on nothing but the hope that a significant number of people will give up driving and start riding bikes.

Thanks to Jack Bog's blog for the link.

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