Friday, March 20, 2015

Where's the bicycle count report? 3

Mayor Lee

Lex sends this:

You can draw the logical conclusion from the missing count---cycling numbers are flat or declining.

The same stunt was pulled in New York City. Every year the Department of Transportation released the cycling numbers with great fanfare at a press conference. Then the rate of increase declined for 3 straight years. Then in 2013 they released the report 5 months late.

You're going to love this. They didn't call a press conference. Instead they just posted the numbers on their website and didn't notify anyone in the media.

It turns out that ridership had actually declined. Since then NYC hasn't released any cycling numbers for 2 years.

You can bet that if ridership had rebounded they'd be calling press conferences left and right.

Here's the NY Times story on the "stealth" release of the last cycling report. It makes for fun reading.

Rob's comment:
Yes, it's suspicious that San Francisco's bicycle count report, usually released in December, is now three months overdue. Maybe the MTA thought no one would ask about it, and they were almost right, since apparently no one in the rest of the city's media did ask about it. 

The city's media pounced uncritically on last year's report, which is what they usually do.

Could the bike revolution in San Francisco be stalled like it has in Portland and Vancouver? What if they build it on Polk Street and Masonic Avenue and no cyclists---or even very few---come? Naturally, the city will restore those streets to their previous configuration, right?

Click on "Bicycle Count Report" below for earlier posts on counting cyclists in San Francisco.

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At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Gregski said...

The SF Bicycle Coalition, which used to never issue a press release without boasting of its 12,000 members, no longer posts its membership numbers in its annual reports and no longer mantions any membership totals in its public communications.


At 7:50 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Maybe Leah is getting out of town just in time as the bike revolution in SF goes in decline. Might be a low commuter count this year when we get the report and a drop in SFBC membership. The SFBC/City Hall projects are getting a lot of resistance in the neighborhoods.

City Hall may think the Polk Street project has been a struggle, but the Masonic Avenue bike project may be an even bigger shit-storm. At least some cyclists actually use Polk Street, unlike Masonic, where now you rarely see anyone on a bike.

And of course City Hall has no idea how many cyclists will use it after the 167 parking spaces and the extra commuter lane are eliminated.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

NYC has posted more recent statistics, and yes, they are down. given the drastic decline in gasoline prices, future numbers will decline further.

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the only reason Leah Shahum stepped down from her perch at the SFBC was because she got a big financial grant from the German Marshall Fund (Urban and Regional Policy Fellowship Program) to go live in Europe and "study" biking. Has anyone at Streetsblog or the SFBC ever had a private sector job?

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Other cities seem to also be delaying the "unfortunate truth" of declining bicycling numbers. Seattle is one such city. Instead, they are reporting soft data from surveys. The plan seems to be delaying numbers to allow more bike infrastructure completion despite the failure of added bike infrastructure to support claims that it would increase cycling. The experiment has failed.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Bicycling has been in decline since 1995 (though the peak was 1973) according to bicycle retailers. There is lots of information on demographics and trends. Just Google "us bicycling decline".

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I think the only reason Leah Shahum stepped down from her perch at the SFBC was because she got a big financial grant from the German Marshall Fund (Urban and Regional Policy Fellowship Program) to go live in Europe and 'study' biking."

Oh, if only Henry James was alive today! The author of The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller, who often wrote about Americans in Europe, would see this as a promising premise for a novel: a middle-aged, idealistic American woman travels to Europe to learn how to make the United States more like Europe.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Researching bicycling as a US activity, I found it ranked below bowling in popularity. Then I wondered, "Wow, US government invests so little in bowling infrastructure." Can't find bowling lanes painted on any streets!

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

But bowling can't save the planet or make you feel virtuous---or allow you to feel the wind in your helmetless hair, either, for that matter. Whee!

Recall that Steve Jones, former editor of the Bay Guardian, informed us that cyclists are morally superior to the rest of us.

Something like that assumption underlies Leah Shahum's pilgrimage to Europe, since those sophisticated Europeans understand this bicycle thing much better than we vulgar Americans do.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

NYC 2014 cycling stats also not out yet. Last year Streetsblog leaked them before they then got released in June!


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