New York, to the visionary planning in Portland that aims to make bicycling a comfortable, convenient and mainstream transportation choice for anyone who wants to ride.
San Francisco, which packs 815,000 residents in just 231 square miles (only Manhattan boasts a higher density in the U.S.), is joining its metropolitan peers with a bold plan that would triple bike use in the city during the next decade.
Despite a temporary legal injunction that prevented San Francisco from building any new bike facilities, bicycling in San Francisco increased 53% from 2006 to 2009. Now with the injunction behind it, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new transportation policy goal last week: 20% of all trips will be made by bike by 2020. Today, about 7% of all trips in the city are made on two wheels.
The goal is ambitious by design — an increase of that magnitude in such a short time will require significant investments in infrastructure and education campaigns — but the change in policy is a rational approach to a very challenging problem. The city is facing a saturated road network, a public transit system at full capacity and ever-shrinking transportation budgets; bicycling may be the most cost-effective solution for San Francisco’s leaders eager to find more ways to help people move from A to B in the near future.
Portland was able to triple the percentage of trips taken by bicycle by spending roughly $50 million on bicycling infrastructure. Although this sounds like a lot, it's actually less than the cost of one single mile of freeway. San Francisco is now ready to replicate this cost-effective investment.