With 16 percent of San Franciscans saying in 2007 that they used a bicycle as a mode of transit at least once a week, new plans to facilitate their use are underway.
“In the past four years, the number of people biking has increased by nearly 60 percent,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
This year, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency was awarded more than $160,000 by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s bicycle facility program to implement a bicycle parking project throughout the city as well as two city bikeways.
The BAAQMD’s bike program provides grant funding to projects designed to reduce motor vehicle emissions through the creation of new bicycle facilities in the Bay Area.
Lisa Fasano, spokeswoman for the BAAQMD, said $84,000 was assigned to the bicycle-parking project that will accommodate 1,400 bicycles in 802 different locations along commercial corridors and near transit routes throughout the city.
Neighborhoods such as the Mission, Castro and the Financial District have the highest demand for bicycle parking spaces from business owners and residents, according to the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s agenda.
“It is wonderful to see the city creating new parking for the growing number of people moving around San Francisco by bicycles,” Shahum said in an e-mail.
Along with the bicycle-parking project, the SFMTA will also provide cyclists two new bikeways. One bikeway, which Fasano said was awarded $66,900, will measure 2.23 miles and will stand on John Muir Drive, between Lake Merced and Skyline boulevards.
“As a student, I feel access to getting to school can always be improved,” said Jacob Rich, a 32-year-old master’s student in public health at SF State who bikes to campus from his Outer Sunset home.
The second bikeway, which was earmarked for $15,300 from the BAAQMD, will be located on the Great Highway, from 48th Avenue and El Camino Del Mar to Fulton Street, according to a board of supervisor’s document.
Rich, who bikes to the University for economic and environmental benefits, also believes additional bikeways in the city increase bike safety to cyclists.
According to the SFMTA website, work on the John Muir bikeway started this winter and all three projects will be fully completed by June 30, 2012.
“We believe strongly that bike projects are a healthy alternative to single passenger vehicles,” Fasano said, who added that the BAAQMD has provided over $400,000 to the SFMTA since 2004 for the implementation of bicycle projects.
According to Les Hilger, legislative assistant to Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the grants, when the SFMTA applies to the BAAQMD for grant funding that exceeds $1 million or proposes a project with a contract of more than ten years, which is the case for these three bike projects, then the board of supervisors must approve the grant agreements.
Hilger said Mar, who ocassionally rides his bicycle to work from the Richmond, introduced the proposed agreement on Jan. 12, and it was approved by the board on Jan. 22.
“The board’s approval means they allow the money from the Bay Area Air District to go to the MTA,” Hilger said. “But the board does not have a say as to when or how the projects will be executed.”