Observations From A Recent Visit to San Francisco

I recently spent 4 days in San Francisco where I had not been for the past 5 years. While others in my group admired the architecture and other amenities of the city, I was looking for bicyclists, bicycle lanes, and how bicycles were interacting with cars.

I immediately noticed an explosion of bicyclists from my last visit. On the Saturday afternoon I was there, I would characterize the bicycle activity as rush hour Midtown Greenway density spread out into the city streets in most of the flat and moderately hilly neighborhoods. I noticed a number of regular stripe and green stripe bike lanes, sharrows, bike boxes, and even sharrows and bike lanes on the same block. The percentage of helmet wearers appeared higher than Minneapolis but the use of night time lights was substantially less.

The bicycle controversy at the time was a police campaign to ticket bicyclists who run red lights. Apparently, there had been a recent spate of pedestrians struck by bicyclists and there had been at least one incident where a pedestrian was struck and killed by a cyclist running a red light.

I was able to visit the offices of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. They were very busy and I was not able to spend a lot of time with them. They are in raw commercial space on the 10th floor of an old downtown office building. Right off the elevators were vertical wall bike racks where the staff and volunteers store their bikes. There were a number of 4 foot by 6 foot maps, graphs and artist renditions on the walls. SFBC has 4 paid staff and a number of volunteers and interns. Their goals are similar to those of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition: to make the city a safe and comfortable place for bicyclists of all ages and abilities.

The city is half way through its bike plan and it looks like the advocates are well on their way to making San Francisco a first class bicycling city comparable to many European venues.

Bill D

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