Saturday, April 30, 2016

The future of commuting: Cars, not bikes

Paragon Realty Group

...While the popularity of cycling to work is growing, jumping 62 percent from 2000 to 2013, it’s still only used by a fraction of a fraction of U.S. commuters, 0.6 percent, compared to the 5 percent who use public transportation and 86.2 percent majority who drive. These numbers might make cycling seem like a healthy, environmentally sound, and incredibly niche mode of transportation, a footnote in America’s transportation story....

Bikes and buses, obviously, out-perform cars in terms of efficiency and the amount of space they occupy. But scaling up bicycle use isn’t really an option, especially [for]those with longer and longer commutes...(emphasis added)

Timothy Papandreou, director of the Office of Innovation at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, firmly believes cities should view these [Uber and Lyft]services as a complement to the existing transportation grid.

"Public transportation agencies have ignored private transportation for years," he says. "That’s background noise. Uber and Lyft discovered how to get this entire group of people from point A to B with a peer system, using an existing fleet. We have been focused on the public budget, and ignoring the private budget. But when you combine those two, there’s a lot of money to move people around."

Every day during rush hours, Christian Perea witnesses a human drama playing out in the backseats of his Prius C. A driver for Uber and Lyft in San Francisco, Perea often picks up customers using the new carpooling services UberPool and Lyft Line, which bundle riders together to increase efficiency and lower costs...

Perea, who helps run The Rideshare Guy blog, is constantly talking to other drivers, and has seen the pros and cons of the explosive growth of this service, which was first introduced in San Francisco a year and a half ago and has now racked up more than 100 million rides worldwide...

Rob's comment: 
After linking ACS percentages on bike commuting in US cities, the Bike League appends this caveat:

Note: ACS numbers are based on surveys of a sample of the population, so they are just estimates---sometimes with large margins of error. Some changes may not be statistically significant. They are just bike commuter estimates; many people who ride bikes are not counted here.

Most people in the US still commute in cars, which are much faster than public transit and provide door-to-door transportation:

On the other hand, there's this letter in the SF Weekly:

Uber & Lyft drivers spend much more time on the streets than a normal driver would and they use 5 to 10 more vehicles than are necessary to do the job ("The Unstudied Traffic Impacts of Uber and Lyft," Chris Roberts, 4/21/16). They obviously are major sources of both congestion and pollution. But the SFMTA and the state Legislature have refused to do environmental impact studies. Worse, environmental groups like the Sierra Club continue to ignore the subject. The Natural Resource Defense Council argued against doing an environmental impact study when Uber and Lyft put their "Pool" services on the street. 

Ed Healy 
San Francisco

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At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankfully we have unbiased commentators like Ed Healy who are concerned only about the environment and a livable, congestion free San Franscisco, and not their personal self interests!

"Ed healy Medallion Holder "

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a former San Franciscan now living in Chicago, and the amount of Uber and Lyft cars circling in our downtown is ridiculous. Most of the time they are empty with driver slowly circling trying to get a fare. I would not be surprised if they account for 25% of the traffic in Downtown Chicago.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Which is why Healy makes a good point. Any other business would be required to do an environmental study of the impact of their business plan.


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