New Poll Finds Strong Support for More, Better Biking in San Francisco

Results of a new independent poll of San Francisco voters, conducted by David Binder Research and released today, show strong support for City leaders to encourage more biking in San Francisco, including expanding the nascent Bike Share system, adding more physically separated bikeways to increase safety, and ensuring bicycling is comfortable and safe for residents of all ages.

The memo (“DBR SF Voter Transportation Research Summary“), released today as the Board of Supervisors considers expanding  Bike Share, outlines the findings of the October 2013 professional poll, which surveyed 400 likely voters and was commissioned by the nonprofit San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The findings include the following:

  • About three-fourths of voters believe bicycling is good for San Francisco and that bicycling in the City should be comfortable and attractive to people of all ages, from small children to seniors.

  • And voters are not just generally supporting the idea of bicycle riding, but are already out there riding a bike regularly. 43% of voters are already riding a bike, with 25% of voters in San Francisco riding regularly, meaning a few times a month or more.

  • Two thirds of voters support expanding the bike sharing program to 3,000 bikes to serve San Francisco’s neighborhoods.

  • More than two-thirds of voters support the City adding physically separated bikeways to improve safety and traffic flow and to create clearly delineated space for road users.

  • Twice as many San Francisco voters are are likely to ride a bike on protected bikeways (56%) than on streets with no dedicated bike space (27%).

  • Not only do voters support policies to expand bicycling, there is an urgency to their support — with 62% support for increasing the total number of all trips taken by bike to 10-15% in the next five years.

  • Many voters (43%) would like to ride a bike more frequently than they do, including about 3 in 10 of voters who never ride a bike currently. Unfortunately, 53% of voters view current conditions in San Francisco as unsafe for biking.

In a city known for a notorious inability to agree, these results underscore the widespread support for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) 2013-2018 Bicycle Strategy, which outlines approaches to increasing bicycling to 10-20% of all trips in San Francisco by adding protected bikeways on key corridors to open up biking options to people of all ages and backgrounds. The poll results also underscore the widespread support for rapid expansion of San Francisco’s new Bay Area Bike Share system, currently confined in San Francisco to small areas in and near downtown.

“These poll results confirm what we are hearing in every corner of the city: more people want to bike, more often,” says Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “Opening up the opportunity to bike among people of all ages and backgrounds can be done right away by growing the popular Bike Sharing system and adding more physically separated bikeways to connect neighborhoods, jobs and commercial shopping corridors.”

The S.F. Board of Supervisors’ Land Use & Economic Development Committee holds a hearing today to discuss the future of bike sharing in San Francisco. Already the shiny mint bikes have been ridden over 100,000 miles, with almost all of those miles in San Francisco.

Says Supervisor Scott Wiener, “This poll shows that our city needs and wants more access to safe and accessible bicycling opportunities. An essential part of being a Transit-First City is to give people a variety of options for getting around town, like expanding bike share city-wide.”

Says Board President David Chiu, “These results show that we all need to work together to make bicycling safer for all San Franciscans. Expanding Bay Area Bike Share to serve San Francisco’s vibrant neighborhoods is a key part of opening biking to serve more San Franciscans.”

“More San Franciscans are riding bicycles to get around the City,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents District 6 where the majority of San Francisco Bike Share stations are housed. “I have seen firsthand how Bike Share has increased ridership in SoMa and downtown.  Expanding this program to other neighborhoods and expediting safety features like protected bikeways will help us in reaching our goal of increasing bike trips by 15% of total trips in five years.”

The poll findings showing the benefits of adding separated bikeways are supported by research released this week by the SFMTA’s measuring impacts of the new separated bikeways added on a short stretch of Fell and Oak Streets. Since the upgraded bikeways on Fell and Oak Streets were added in May 2013, SFMTA surveys found that 98% of people biking feel safer, and 90% feel that drivers’ awareness of people on bikes has increased. Meanwhile, car travel times have slowed to a safer pace and safe biking behavior has increased.

Notably, one in five people surveyed report bicycling more frequently thanks to the Oak and Fell bikeway improvements — with nearly one in three women riding more now.

Says Supervisor London Breed, “I pushed to get the Oak and Fell bike lanes launched ahead of schedule, and I look forward to seeing them fully completed soon.  Safety improvements like these are clearly a great way to help more people feel comfortable traveling the City by bike.”

Download the full Binder Research memo: DBR SF Voter Transportation Research Summary.

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