Paul Andrews

SF v. Portland: Who’s the Cyclingest of Them All?

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting on June 29, 2009 at 2:37 am

San Francisco bike policy is picking up momentum. Mayor Gavin Newsom, a true progressive who’s running for governor, is a big bike booster. The city Planning Commission and MTA (Municipal Transportation Agency) just gave thumbs up to the SF Bike Plan, prompting this observation from Newsom:

“Already 6% of our commuters are bicyclists; that’s more than any other city in America. We know when we add a bike lane we see about a 50% increase in use. Fifty-four percent of  greenhouse gases are transportation related, the tailpipes of these cars you see behind you. Even those of us who are not bicyclists will get the benefit of this because of the air we breathe and the benefit of the example that we will leave to our children to get more physically active as well and to look at bicycling not just as recreating but as a pragmatic way of getting to and from places of work, to and from places we need to go.”

So I guess the burning question of the day is: Does SF now trump Portland as the most cycling-centric city in the U.S.? I’m assuming Newsom’s stats are correct but wonder if Portland isn’t actually ahead (here‘s an unsourced citation putting Portland at 6 percent mode share; BikePortland.org cites 8 percent in this post last fall). My home base of Seattle isn’t too shabby in the commute department btw. Cascade Bicycle Club, which it should be noted is the nation’s largest local club, estimates commuting at a respectable 4.2 percent.

Having bike commuted in San Francisco as well and ridden in Portland, my observation is that Portland is by far the easiest to get around in, but it’s also the smallest and most compact. So the stats may not be the whole story.

More SF links from Streetsblog:

Mayor a yay and nay.

Dancing, make that cycling in the streets over MTA vote!

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