San Francisco lays out $200 million in bike projects in next 5 years 

click to enlarge It will cost $200 million to implement all bike-related aspects of the SFMTA’s strategic five-year plan. - ANNA LATINO/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. Examiner
  • It will cost $200 million to implement all bike-related aspects of the SFMTA’s strategic five-year plan.

The City is proposing $200 million worth of changes to its cycling network in the next five years.

Building 12 new miles of bike lanes, upgrading 50 miles of existing paths and installing more than 20,000 new racks are all part of the plan.

Biking has increased by 71 percent since 2006, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages cycling policies in The City, is hoping to build out its network to meet the demand.

At the board of directors’ annual workshop meeting Tuesday, the agency is expected to discuss potential scenarios for bicycling expansion.

As part of its five-year strategic plan, the agency proposes to upgrade 50 intersections to accommodate bicycles and deploy and maintain 2,750 bikes as part of a grab-and-go bike-sharing network.

Along with the plans to upgrade 50 miles of the existing network and add 12 new miles of bike facilities, the total cost of the project could be $200 million. If completed, the agency hopes the share of bike trips in San Francisco increases from its current level of 3.5 percent of all travel to 8 to 10 percent by 2018; a separate goal of 20 percent has been set by the Board of Supervisors for 2020.

The funding and implementation of the network face questions, however. Currently, the transit agency is only able to afford to install 6 miles of bike lanes each year, falling short of its 10-mile goal. Of the $200 million needed for the five-year project, only $30 million has been identified.

Still, Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the strategic plan goals are achievable. Possible sources for the $200 million project include revenue from a potential vehicle license fee increase, which could go on the 2014 ballot.

Shahum also said the transit agency could do a better job of funding projects, noting that bike projects account for only 0.46 percent of its capital budget plan.

Bike usage is at 15 percent in some neighborhoods, and investing to increase The City’s network is relatively cheap, Shahum said.

“Investing in better biking is one of the most cost-effective and quick ways for The City to address its transportation challenges,” Shahum said.

Howard Chabner, a disability advocate, said The City’s biking goals are unrealistic given the demographic breakdown of residents and their continued reliance on automobiles.

“It’s one thing to promote bicycles; it’s another to have a war on cars,” Chabner said. “And that’s basically the SFMTA’s strategy.”

Director Cheryl Brinkman of the transit agency said some residents — especially those living on hills — might never choose to relinquish their automobiles, but more people are warming up to the idea of using bikes as a primary mode of transportation.

“The appetite for a welcoming bike network is very strong, and we will see increased support and demand with each new project completed,” Brinkman said.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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