Category: News

Pedal Power Infographic

Cara Delany and her team have put this ‘pedal’ powerful info-graphic together to help promote bicycling with facts and statistics from environmental, economic, and health impacts of biking. It is self-explanatory and full of information.

An infographic by the team at Online Masters In Public Health

Notice the info-graphic on the proliferative uptick of bike sharing programs across this country from the largest city of New York City (pop. of 8M) to the smallest city of Boulder, CO (pop. of 97K). Cities are getting it but the general population are not. Spread the word by showing this info-graphic to your friends and relatives.

Till next time, happy pedaling!

BABS Launch Ceremony (8/29/13)

Finally today is the day the bicycle community feels some legitimacy! I feel so proud that a bicycle is incorporated into the public transit system.

The Bay Area Bike-Share ceremony started at 10:30 am today at 4th and King St. Caltrain station. Here are some photos from today’s ceremony. It wasn’t until noon that the bike shares could be used by the public.

bike share celebrity

She was the celebrity of the day. Our celeste green Bay Area Bike Share. She got so much attention, deservingly.

bay area bikeshare refreshments

Mayor Lee speaking

Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco was there to speak at the ceremony with Jane Kim, Scott Wiener and John Avalos (3 of our Supervisors) in attendance.

Jared Blumfield

Jared Blumenfeld, a bike commuter and an EPA official (appointed by President Obama) spoke convincingly of why bicycle is good for transportation, good for business, good for livability, etc.

bike share ribbon cutting

little girl on bikeshare

Mayor Lee on bikeshare

Mayor Ed Lee leading the bike share caravan back to City Hall.

Police chief Greg Suhr

Our police chief, Greg Suhr on a bike? Maybe now he can understand how it feels to be a bicyclist. I would love to see more cops on bikes.

bike share dispatcher

First customer at Caltrain station

Right at noon time is this first happy customer at the Townsend and 4th St. station.

bike shares already in use

By riding around town today, I can already tell bike shares are going to be very popular.

Happy Bike-Sharing!

25% jump in the bicycling rate on Market Street!

Bike counter on Market Street on a Sunday afternoon.

Bike counter on Market Street on a Sunday afternoon.

SF’s very own bicycle counter Eco Counter was unveiled on Bike to Work Day which was May 9th of this year. It was a perfect day to celebrate biking to work with the counter running.

For those of you who don’t know what’s the point of having a bike counter- well, it’s the same thing as doing a survey/poll. After data collection, Market Street may be justified in getting more bike infrastructure investment (crossing fingers) and a traffic mobility reassessment. Plus, it’s cool to see the numbers increase in real-time for all those bicycle boosters and data geeks out there.

Location of the bike counter. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Location of the bike counter. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

The bicycle counter is located on the south side of Market St. between 9th and 10th Sts. to count bicyclists heading eastbound. Market Street has the highest amount of bicycle traffic in San Francisco, so it’s a no brainer to have it there.

Let’s take a look at the historical data on bicycling in SF and then at the numbers coming from the counter:

SF boasted an increase of 71% in bicyclist counts between 2006 and 2010. Unfortunately, in the last 5 years SF saw the same rate in bicycle theft. These two data sets sort of correlate with each other.

Additionally, bicycle trips account for 3.5% of all trips in 2010, an increase from 2% in the year 2000. But have these numbers gone up since 2010? I am still waiting and eager to see data showing that jump because everywhere I ride, I see a lot more bicyclists.

But it’s also possible that the percentage of trips made by bicycle remained the same even as the number of bicycle trips went up, because it also seems like there has been a large uptick in car trips (and congestion) which many have observed in the city. So after accounting for that, the percentage of bike trips may sadly still remain at 3.5%.

Now let’s take a look at the numbers coming from the bike counter:

Data from bike counter for since May 9. Image courtesy of SFMTA.

Data collected from bike counter since May 9. Image courtesy of SFMTA.

First, the counter only collects data on Market St. and possibly has some glitches. It’s been reported that not every bicyclist gets counted, that vehicles are sometimes counted, and that there’s a 5% error rate (source).

Nevertheless, according to the bike counter posted on the SFMTA’s website, the number of bicyclists that were registered has jumped from an average of 2,032 per day in May to 2,715 in August (excluding outliers) within 4 months. Although the number of daily riders is small, that’s a 25% increase! In addition, the August weekday count of 3,132 almost tied with Bike to Work Day’s count of 3,231 which is incredible! Many people that came out to ride for BTWD are not regular bicycle commuters and perhaps now, these occasional riders have become regulars!

The increase could have also been due to the warmer months. But I doubt it has much to do with that because the climate in SF is pretty mild all year round, and it’s been especially warm throughout this year so far.

You’ll notice that there is no data for the months of June and July. It’s possible that when the counter was shut down for the Market St. repaving back in June, the counter was also re-calibrated and fine-tuned (we don’t know for sure) affecting the counts for May. So the count could have already been at the same level as in August and there might not have been an actual increase.

It’s too bad that during the months of June and July, there was no data input. If it wasn’t turned off for the re-pavement, it would have told us more about the change. For example, a slow increase would confirm the 25% increase from May to August.

If there really was an increase, it would be great to see it continue in this upward trend. Maybe this road will soon eventually outdo Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge as the busiest bicycle corridor in the nation.

One of nine bike share stations on Market St next to bike counter.

One of nine bike share stations on Market St. next to the bike counter. Bay Area Bike Share will launch on Thursday, 8/29.

Amelie’s death: last of five tragic deaths involving truck drivers.

Amelie Le Moullac, 24.  Image courtesy of Voce Communications.

Amelie Le Moullac, 24. Image courtesy of Voce Communications.

What a very sad last week it was for the bicycle community. Amelie Le Moullac of 24, was on her way to work last Wednesday morning. She was riding her bike on a striped bike lane going straight on Folsom St. in the SOMA neighborhood when a truck driver made a right turn on 6th St. and killed her. It was the driver’s fault but of course he wasn’t cited.

Amelie's bike.  Image courtesy of SFGate.

Amelie’s bike. Image courtesy of SFGate.

Since 2011, the last five bicyclists’ deaths had all resulted from colliding with truck drivers at intersections in San Francisco. This seems like a common theme here.  This is all too familiar when cycle tracks are not put in.  I hear these kinds of stories coming from London as well. 50% of cyclists’s deaths in London involve trucks. The reason I think is that cities like London and San Francisco are very auto-centric and both have a rapidly growing bicycle culture. However, both have dysfunctional bike infrastructure which is composed of striped bike lanes.  As a result, cyclists are forced to share roads with motorists. In just about any city with this kind of set-up, tragic fatalities with motorists are bound to happen.

Bike lane on the right on Folsom St. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Bike lane on the right on Folsom St. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

The street Amelie was a riding on is a one way thoroughfare with 4 lanes. This is one of many streets (pretty ridiculous for such a small and dense city) in SF which are very suitable for large trucks to be on.  The construction frenzy in the city has also brought in dozens and dozens of these trucks. Add to the fact that truck drivers can’t see you because they sit 8 ft/2.4 m above ground with a huge blind-spot on the driver’s right side.

Either reduce speed limits on these kind of roads (and enforce it), ban all right turns on red lights, or put in real bike infrastructure. Bicycle commuters are going to take this route because it is one of 2 routes (from the central neighborhoods) with some sort of bike facility that leads to downtown. It’s unfortunate that we have a long way to go to have safe streets throughout SF for bicyclists. Since our city is not going to implement any of these soon, the responsibility to be safe is on us bicyclists. Below are some tips that may help you to be safe.

1. Always look over your left shoulder moments beforehand when crossing an intersection.

2. Don’t speed through intersections, prepare to stop.

3. Be visible to drivers by being out in front at a junction when waiting for a green light.

4. Listen for loud trucks if you can. I know the city can be very loud a lot of times.

5. Be assertive and take the whole lane if you have to. You have the legal right to.

6. And always pass to the left of a vehicle to avoid a right hook, this is when a car merges suddenly to the right to make a right turn sandwiching the bike rider between the car and the curb.

Amelie's memorial at 6th and Folsom St.

Amelie’s memorial at 6th and Folsom St.

Rest in peace, Amelie.

Read also:
In Memory of Diana Sullivan, Ghost Bike Memorial

News and Upcoming Events of the Week: #23

Image courtesy of DVICE

Image courtesy of DVICE

– A video guide of how to carry a child on a bike (the guardian).
– An online service that lets you rent a bike anywhere in the country (Wired).
– Divvy’s bike share program in Chicago is another successful bike share program (ABC).
– An entire new way of electric-assist bike by Rubbee (DVICE).
– 10 best cities around the world if you love biking (glading).
– Ghost Bike is used to protest for cycle safety (BBC).

– Peninsula Bike Party this Friday.
– SF Critical Mass, also this Friday.
– Sunday Streets in the Mission this Sunday.

Bay Area Bike Share Launching this August

Finally, San Francisco is getting a bike share program which is launching next month. Hooray! You can now go online to purchase your membership.

It’s a pilot program starting with 700 bikes at 70 stations in SF and along the Peninsula- or to be more precise it is actually just in 5 cities (San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose). But SF gets half of all of the bikes and half of all of the stations. That comes out to roughly 10 bikes per station. If successful, it’s going to expand to other cities including expanding to more stations and bikes in SF for a total of 1,000 bikes (still too small!) in the future.

Here are some characteristics of the bike they are using that have struck me. I like the Celeste green color (easy to spot and gets motorist’s attention) and it’s refreshing. It has a step-through frame so both sexes and elders can get on the saddle easier. It looks like it may come with 7 speeds which I think is good for SF’s hills. It also comes with front and rear lights which are powered by pedaling, fenders for rain and chain guard to keep your pants clean. All in all, a typical bike-share bike which has been shown to work in other North American cities. Aside from the color, this bike is identical to the ones from Capital bikeshare in DC, Citi-Bikes in NYC, Hubway bikes in Boston, and Divvy bikes in Chicago.

Celeste Green Bay Area Bike Share

Celeste Green Bay Area Bike Share.

The location of the stations are very good, all on flat land, and in high density areas where high tourism and business districts are. So, it looks like it aims to get visitors and workers to use them. It’s a great way to get people that are on the fence about riding a bike to actually ride one and good for short bicycle trips like running errands.

It also serves as a missing link in the public transit system. I am hoping that more people coming into SF to work or play will use the Caltrain/BART and pick one of these bikes to get to their designated spot. It looks like there is one docking station at the Caltrain station and one pretty close by as well, but by going with the assumption that there are 10 bikes per station, there would only be 20 bikes. This is clearly not enough. You may become reliant on bike shares, and one day you are stuck without one. I see thousands of Caltrain riders getting off at 4th and King St. and anyone of them can use them up fairly quickly. It needs at least 40 – 100 bikes at those two locations. As for the commuters coming into the Ferry Building and Transbay Terminal, I think they also deserve more than just one station each.

However, in other parts of the city, I think it will just about fulfill the level of need initially. For example, there are 9 docking pods on Market St. with a few other ones a block or two away. I think the spacing between pods are appropriate too. This area will serve the riders coming out of the BART stations well which are located along Market St. Moreover, there are people that don’t like to lug around a bike and a heavy lock, especially when they have to take them on MUNI buses. These bike shares would nicely fit the bill.

In addition, these bike shares can benefit cyclists who own expensive bikes that they don’t want to risk getting stolen when locking their bikes outside. I usually don’t like taking my bike (even my cheapee one) to the Metreon to watch a movie or to go to the Westfield mall where I won’t see my bike for hours, so this would be beneficial for people like me.

SF stations map

Map of bike-share stations in SF.

Regarding the pricing scale, it is a little expensive if you’re getting the 24 hours or 3 days membership. It comes out to be more expensive than riding MUNI. The unlimited 30 minutes free trips I think it’s kind of a short time span, especially when you only have 35 stations around and not one in every location. It will be a hassle if you want to go more than 2 miles which could take more than 30 minutes. And what if you need to make multiple errands in one trip.

pricing scale

Pricing for annual and short term memberships.

Surely, the overtime fees are pretty expensive at $4 for the second 30 minutes and $7 for each additional 30 minutes. They definitely want you to return the bike. This is not meant for you to rent it for the weekend or a day. In those situations, it’s best to rent from a regular bike rental shop.

overtime pricing

Overtime fees if you don’t return the bike within 30 minutes.

Bike shares usually don’t come with helmets. So it will be up to riders to bring their own, but I don’t expect many to do so based on observations from other American cities that have bike share programs.

It’s going to be nice to see people in regular clothing riding them as opposed to people in spandex and athletic wear. They will be “upright and helmetless.” I think this is going to change the image of cyclists and the convenience that the bike share will provide is going to increase the cycling rate. Yay for bike share!

News and Upcoming Events of the Week: #22

Image courtesy of the verge.

Image courtesy of the verge.

– Tour de France cycling fans in pictures (the guardian).
– Amtrak in NE region is testing out bicycle accommodations (times union).
– You can now buy Bay Area bike-share membership online (click here).
– Recyclable paper helmets for the helmetless bike-share program (the verge).
– Cycling and drinking will land you in jail in Poland (krakow post).

– San Jose Bike Party! this Friday.
– Pedalfest in Oakland this Saturday.
– Midnight Mystery Ride this Saturday.

News and Upcoming Events of the Week: #21

Image courtesy of Kickstarter

Image courtesy of Kickstarter

– NYPD thinks cyclists are more dangerous than motorists (Fast Company).
– Sydney Mayor asked federal government for $160 millions worth of bike paths (Daily Telegraph).
– Queen Maxima of the Netherlands rode her bike to the unveiling of the Maxima Park (Daily Mail).
– A cool and versatile HandleBand for your smartphone, a kickstarter (Kickstarter).
– A video on how to bicycle fit you like a pro (the Guardian).
– SF is proposing Bike Registry for theft victims (SF Examiner).
– Bike infrastructure in Chicago is good for bars (Chicago Mag).
– Another cyclist killed by a truck in London, a similar issue in the States (the Guardian).
– Bad infrastructure creates bad behavior on bikes (treehugger).

– East Bay Bike Party! this Friday.
– Butter Lap every Wednesday at 7pm in front of the Ferry Bldg.

News and Upcoming Events of the Week: #20

Image courtesy of SF Bike Party

Image courtesy of SF Bike Party

– Swedes are working on soft asphalt to reduce bicycle crashes (tree hugger).
– Another car manufacturer (Toyota) is getting into bike business (The Record).
– Chicago just launched her Divvy bike-share program (Chicago Sun-Times).
– 25% of rush hour vehicles in London are bicycles (Grist).
– 10 brilliant works of bike infrastructure around the world (Atlantic Cities).
– Cool music video, King of the World by Anthony’s Putsch involves babies on bikes (YouTube).

– SF Bike Party! this Friday.
– Shaping SF Bike Tour (Labor History) this Saturday.
– Sunday Streets in Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway this Sunday.
– Butter Lap every Wednesday at 7pm at the Ferry Bldg.

Happy Independence Day!

News and Upcoming Events of the Week: #19

Image courtesy of NY Times

Image courtesy of NY Times

– Israeli creates bicycles out of cardboard boxes (Haaretz).
– Section of Masonic gets funding for raised bicycle lanes (SF Bay).
– 28 cycle super highways of 495 km (307 miles) total will be built by 2025 in Copenhagen (NY Times).
– Hack a helmet to find the nearest Citi Bikes station (Gizmodo).
– Amsterdam is swamped with parking of bicycles (NY Times).
– What does a Dutch think about US bike infrastructure (Streets Blog)?

– Peninsula Bike Party this Friday.
– Critical Mass this Friday.
– Wheelin’ for Women Dyke March this Saturday.