Thursday, March 18, 2010

On MUNI cuts and new cyclists.

A few articles - on Streetsblog and a letter to the editor of the Chronicle have discussed the concept that people will abandon MUNI for bikes if MUNI gets worse than it already is due to cuts in service.

From the comments on Streetsblog.

"It will push SOME people to bikes, and those are typically younger men."

My reply.

"I have long since stopped being shocked by the number of women on bikes out there in SF, including many deep into the 2nd half of their lifetimes... in other words tell that to Ellen Fletcher."

I had a little dustup on my bike on Monday and was riding MUNI today. Regards bike safety - I was riding very fast and not paying attention. If I were in a car on the 101 and did the same thing I might be dead. If you are just riding along at a nominal clip and paying attention, you won't go flying over the bars after hitting a speed bump.

I might ride to Caltrain at 20 MPH. It would be pretty easy and very mellow to go at 13 MPH. MUNI's average fleet speed is 9 MPH. And you can leave on your bike when you want to.

So anyway, on MUNI today, a woman sitting next to me was chatting to a young woman behind me, who was complaining that it was taking her about an hour to get from her house to work. She takes the J from 30th/Randal to the 48, and endures a crappy connection most mornings. From that same spot, she can take Valencia to 18th to Harrison to 17th, without any real hills, and probably get to work in 15 minutes, reliably - on a bike. I was just about to turn around and say "You need a bike" when SHE said "I got a bike from my sister, but the chain jumps around, I'm hoping to get it fixed so I can do that. My mom is worried it isn't safe, but then again the 48 bus goes through the projects." I told her she would be just fine, recommended Valencia to 18th (she said someone had already turned her on to that route) and that she should check out the Bike Kitchen

Frankly if MUNI crapping out puts more people onto bikes, I suspect it will be as many women as men, or more. The men willing to take to the road on 2 wheels are already doing so - too impatient for MUNI speeds to begin with. I see more women on MUNI, at least on the routes I ride. They are about to have their patience tested by MUNI's reduced frequency.

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