Thursday, February 07, 2013

Annual reality-check: Transportation Fact Sheet

As City Hall goes about methodically redesigning our streets on behalf of an obnoxious minority of cyclists on the evidence-free assumption that it will ease the city's traffic congestion, those of us in the reality-based community get a reality-check at least once a year from the MTA's 12-page Transportation Fact Sheet, which provides a tally of cars, cabs, trucks, motorcycles, and transit vehicles on city streets. Buried deep in the bloated, 5,000-employee MTA bureaucracy there are a few people producing documents that put the bicycle fantasy in perspective.

The first page has information on the dramatic increase in the city's daily population, since it's a regional job center and tourist destination. In spite of more than 102,279 residents commuting out of the city, our daytime population swells from 806,696 to 945,480. (Left out of this year's report is the "Total Daytime Increase in Vehicles," which was 35,400 last year).

The Fact Sheet provides the DMV's latest count of the motor vehicles registered in SF: 458,093, which is down slightly from 461,536 in the last report (I always subtract the trailers to get a realistic number). That number has fluctuated since I began tracking it, from a low of 446,184 in 2003 to a high of 465,905 in 2007.

On commuting: 37.5% of city residents drive alone to work; 7.6% carpool; 32.6% take public transportation; 9.9% walk; 7.1% work at home; and---wait for it---3.3% ride bikes to work.

Only 2.1% commuted by bike in 2000, and that percentage was 3.3% in 2011. That comes to a not-so-impressive .11% gain per year over 12 years! Since 1.2% is only 57% of 2.1%, by their own numbers the city's claim that there's been a 71% increase in cycling is false.

More perspective on the bicycle "mode" in the city comes in another MTA document, the Mode Share Survey 2011 Summary Report, which on page 5 tells us that of all trips made daily in SF (2,149,145) only 73,071 are by bicycle, which is 3.4%.

Muni had 694,294 weekday boardings, which is up from 673,196 last year. Muni has 1,055 vehicles in service, and there are 1,537 taxis on our streets.

The MTA wants to spend $470 million (page 22) in the coming years to try and shove bicycles down our throats, while Muni, the real alternative to driving in SF, is chronically underfunded. The bicycle tail is now wagging the Muni dog at MTA, even though more people are riding Muni than ever before. The city's anti-car, pro-bicycle policies are based on nothing but the hope that, after making it more difficult and expensive to drive in the city, a significant number of people will give up driving and start riding bicycles. There's no evidence for that, which makes it a faith-based traffic policy.

The likely result of all the pro-bike, anti-car policies: making traffic worse for everyone---except cyclists.

City Hall's take from preying on motorists: $47,138,412 from parking meters; $39 million from city-owned garages; $9,490,947 from residential parking permits; and $83,290,024 from parking tickets, a total of $178,919,383 for "managing" the city's parking supply.

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