San Francisco Transportation Density

When ranking the most traffic-congested cities in the United States, San Francisco consistently resides near the top of the list. The San Francisco city government has made efforts to reduce the stress put on infrastructure by persuading their citizens to reconsider how they get around their city. These three maps display San Francisco transportation and where the highest density of foot traffic, biking, and driving respectively occur in the city.


The heaviest pedestrian traffic occurs in the downtown shopping district in San Francisco. Embarcadero and Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market located north of the Oakland Bay Bridge experiences heavy foot traffic from tourists and residents year-round. Additionally, the Mid-Market and South-of-Market areas, as of 2009, restrict cars east of sixth street to calm traffic and encourage pedestrian permeability. Though it was originally intended to be a six-week test, the automobile exclusion around the Ferry Building became permanent, and plans are being made to ban private automobiles on Market Street in order to promote accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians.


The densest cycling traffic occurs in the Richmond District of NE San Francisco, Mission District, and Dogpatch along the Eastern Coast. Both areas consist of heavily developed cycling infrastructure including bike lanes, paths, and bike parking. The city in partnership with the San Francisco Bike Coalition have initiated their “Connecting the city” project, which will link every corner of the San Francisco transportation grid and create more than 100 miles of bike lanes. The city intends for 20% of traffic in the city to be by bike in 2020.


Neighborhoods including Excelsior, Visitacion Valley, and Hunters point have a high level of automobile traffic, much of which can be attributed to the 101/Bayshore Freeway and I-280 Interchange. However, this isn’t the only area in San Francisco suffering from high a congestion of automobiles. Stockton and Montgomery Streets in the downtown area as well as the Bay Bridge connecting to Oakland experience high levels of car traffic as well. An average automobile commuter in the San Francisco area spends a total of 83 hours stuck in traffic each year!


These maps were made with SF Open Data consisting of a measure of minutes spent walking and biking in San Francisco transportation districts and Daily Vehicle count per mile of streets aggregated at the U.S. Census tract level. Each data set was classified into 10 classes which were organized in Quantile (Equal Count) Mode and set to a gradient. Darkest gradients have the highest traffic density while colors represent the type of traffic. The stylized data sets were joined with San Francisco street vector lines and laid over a base map of Landsat 8 imagery acquired from USGS Earth Explorer.

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