More people are biking in San Francisco than ever. Just how many more? We’ll soon know — on a daily basis. Today, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors publicly announced that San Francisco will receive its first automated real-time bike counter, to be installed on Market Street.
The new automated bike counter, also known as a bicycle barometer, will be installed on the sidewalk on the south side of Market Street between 9th and 10th Streets and record all bikes heading eastbound. Counts are visibly displayed, showing daily and annual compilations.
“The bike counter will underscore the huge and growing number of people biking on our city’s main corridor,” said Leah Shahum, the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director, who helped find sponsorship for this project. “Market Street is already one of the busiest bicycling streets in the country with very little dedicated bike space. It will be exciting to track further growth as we focus on improvements to Market Street to boost access to jobs and a stronger economic vibrancy in San Francisco.”
The SFMTA is aiming to install the bike counter by Bike to Work Day on May 9, when record numbers of people are expected to be bicycling throughout the city as more people discover the ease of commuting on two wheels. Bicycling is booming in San Francisco, with a more than 71% increase in the number of people biking between 2006 and 2011, according to the SFMTA’s most recent counts.
The innovative bike counter, pioneered in Copenhagen and recently installed in Seattle and Portland, will report real-time the number of people bicycling on Market Street, which outpaces the number of autos during peak hours on the city’s main transit-first corridor. Market Street has seen some of the largest increase in ridership, with a 98% growth between 2006 and 2011, and 750 bike riders counted in just one hour on Market and 5th Streets on an average week day.
“The installation of this innovative bicycle barometer comes at a critical moment in San Francisco,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “As more and more San Franciscans are using a bicycle as part of their everyday commute, this visual bike counter will raise awareness of the positive impact bicycling has on traffic congestion, air quality and personal health.”
Businesses along Market Street are also looking forward to the innovative bike counter. “We’re excited to see the new bicycle counter to the mid-Market area,” said Jonas Jackel of Huckleberry Bicycles. “More people biking helps enliven this area, and bring even more business to the corridor.”
“Everyday, we see hundreds of people bike past our office on Market Street. More people biking is good for this street and it’s good for our city. It will be exciting to get to see just how many people are biking here on a daily basis,” says Christopher Santos of the Dolan Law Firm.
The bicycle counter is partly paid for by a generous $20,000 donation by Kongregate, a leading web and mobile game site based in San Francisco. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition facilitated this sponsorship. The Central Market Community Benefits District will maintain the counter.
“At Kongregate we’re pleased to be a part of making bike commuting a mainstream activity,” says Kongregate Founder and longtime SF Bicycle Coalition member, Jim Greer, who bikes daily in San Francisco with his kids. “As a bike commuter, I love that bikes are being counted and celebrated. As a gamer, I love keeping score. It’ll be great to see the first bike counted, and even better to see the one millionth.”