The Alliance For Walking and Biking just released a monster of a report that looks at just about every statistic that you could gather on walking and biking in the city. And guess what: San Francisco actually has one of the lowest rates of cyclist fatalities, and one of the highest rates of commuting by wheels or feet, according to the Alliance. (Apparently, studies like this one from California Bike Coalition are outdated).
But one disappointment that was confirmed: San Francisco doesn't fund enough pedestrian and bike-friendly projects.
Contrary to Popular Belief, San Francisco Isn't Totally Unsafe for Cyclists
Finally, San Francisco beat Portland at biking -- and in a truly important category. The Alliance for Walking and Biking says that San Francisco has 0.9 cycling fatalities per 10,000 bike commuters. That's less than the 1.1 per 10,000 in Portland, and only behind Arlington, Texas, and Wichita, Kansas, where apparently no bikers die.
The Alliance also crunched the numbers to determine that the cities with the highest levels of cycling have the lowest levels of bicycle fatality rates.
Per the study:
"A possible explanation is that in places where more bicyclists and pedestrians are present, motorists are more used to sharing the roadways with bicyclists and are more aware of pedestrians at crossings. Environmental factors (such as signed routes, bike lanes, and sidewalks) that contribute to increased bicycling and walking also likely contribute to increased safety."
Bicycling is Great For the Economy
Apparently, a good way for a business to make more money is to install bike racks, inviting more cycling customers. The study found that while cyclists might spend less money at shops and stores per trip (probably due to not being able to carry so much crap) they make more frequent trips and thus spend more on average. The study cited Polk Street as an example. In fact, both pedestrians and cyclists are found to spend more money than drivers. So if you're a business owner and you think parking is more important than sidewalks and bike parking: think again.
San Francisco Has More Bike Paths
San Francisco has far and away more bike paths, multi-use paths, and on-street lanes per square mile than any other large city in the country. And not by a little. Just look at this graph. While some cities might have more off-street paths, or multi-use paths, San Francisco firmly has more of everything.
But We're Bad at Spending Money on Cyclists and Pedestrians
San Francisco has somehow managed to make these huge gains in cycling without shelling out much money. The percentage of money the city is allocating for cycling is increasing, but it's still only 2 percent of the total budget, while cycling now makes up around 7 percent of the total transportation in the city. The feds don't help, either, only giving California 2 percent of the federal budget for biking and pedestrian projects.
We're also bad at funding our advocacy organizations when compared to other cities with strong cycling numbers, yet we have more members per capita, the report says.
Not Bad, San Francisco
Alas, things are looking up for cyclists in San Francisco. Are you surprised? Not as many people are getting injured or killed on bikes, more money is funding infrastructure, and all of that is good for business. In other words, the city has made progress when it comes to cycling.
But that doesn't mean we can pat ourselves on the back yet.
The Alliance For Walking and Biking ends their big report with a call to action for advocates, agency staff, elected officials and media to utilize this report to its fullest and work together to help make our communities better and safer places to bicycle and walk.
And who could argue with that?
Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill -- literally and metaphorically.