Best Cities for Bikers: Spotlight on San Francisco!

Posted on 10/15/2014

The Embarcadero

Running from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way around to AT&T Park in SoMa, the Embarcadero plays a crucial role in connecting the northern waterfront with downtown San Francisco. The SFMTA listed this corridor as the fourth most travelled bicycle corridor, and the number of bikes on the road during commuting hours can average between 800-1000 on busy evenings. Present infrastructure consists of a green bicycle lane on the road, and a shared sidewalk for pedestrians and bikes. Despite this, the Embarcadero remains a high-risk biking area due to non-continuous bike lane striping and heavy vehicular traffic use. Advocates such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hope to improve this popular route by winter 2015 by supporting the implementation of a protected two-way bikeway such as this one on the Hudson River Greenway in New York City:

Two-way bike traffic on the Hudson River Greenway

The Wiggle

San Francisco residents have been ‘Wiggling’ since before it was called San Francisco! The ancient flat walking trail used to connect two Indian villages on the tip of the peninsular, and went on to become a horse trail and finally a modern day thoroughfare for vehicles, pedestrians, and now bicyclists to navigate the steep hills between downtown and the north-west neighborhoods of the city. This route is very popular with local commuters and visitors to San Francisco sightseeing by bicycle, and infrastructure currently consists of green-painted ‘sharrows’ (share-the-road arrows), and some streets have their own bike lanes and bike boxes. While work on the Wiggle has already come a long way and conditions are generally fairly safe for all road users, further improvements are in the works with traffic calming measures to be implemented as early as winter 2014.

A cyclist does ‘the Wiggle’ through Lower Haight

Market Street

The true spine of the city, Market Street is now used more by cyclists than it is drivers as a commuting route! San Francisco’s original highway, Market has evolved over the years into a mixed-use thoroughfare with thousands of cars, trolleys, trains, buses, pedestrians, and cyclists traversing it on a daily basis. The infrastructure for bikers already exists, but a melting pot of sharrows, separated & non-separated bike lanes, bike boxes, and bicycle bays can be a confusing and potentially dangerous mix for newer riders and those unfamiliar with the peculiarities of the route. With this in mind, the San Francisco Department of Public Works, Municipal Transport Authority, Planning Department and others have joined forces on the Better Market Street Project. The project seeks to streamline the existing urban design and infrastructure to create a cultural hub, with transit options linking the neighborhoods and opening up public space for residents and visitors to enjoy.

This Is Market Street Trailer from Darryl Jones on Vimeo.

Despite its reputation as the city of hills, bicycling in San Francisco is growing in popularity every year with both locals and visitors, and investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is fast becoming a priority for local government. While biking is already very accessible for beginner riders and visitors to our beautiful city, there is always room for improvement! How bike-friendly is your city? Tell us in the comments below!

Bicycle commuting is growing in a big way, as evident in recently released U.S. Census findings, with Washington D.C. and New York commutes as much as doubling since 2009. This isn’t surprising news given the solid investment by both cities in bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, but the overwhelming success of the scheme is definitely heartening! San Francisco isn’t far behind, with an almost 50% increase in commuters switching over to pedal power. Let’s take a look at three of the projects (both complete and ongoing) responsible for this boost.