The Bloomberg administration has aggressively expanded New York City's
bicycle infrastructure, creating hundreds of miles of bicycle lanes and
encouraging residents to try out the cleaner, often speedier mode of transport.
On Thursday, the city said that the number of regular
city bicycle riders increased by 8 percent this year, extending a decade-long trend that has nearly quadrupled the number of
regular cyclists since 2001, according to the city's Department of
Clicker-carrying counters hired by the city ticked off the number of cyclists
at six locations: the Manhattan side of the four East River bridges, the
Hudson River Greenway at West 50th Street, and the Whitehall Terminal
of the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan. The counts are taken 10
times a year, on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
In the context of a city of eight million residents, the numbers are small:
on average, the city recorded 18,846 cyclists a day this year at those
six locations, up from 17,491 riders in 2010.
But in 2001, that figure was under 5,000. In 2007, it was about 9,300.
A few critics, including some bicycling advocates,
have expressed concerns about the city's figures, saying they are difficult to extrapolate for the city as a whole.
John Pucher, a professor of planning at Rutgers University who is a fierce advocate
of bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly cities, said he believed bicycling
was on the rise, but that the city's survey overstated the size of
"New York City D.O.T. is only picking those spots where bike commuting
is increasing the most," he said, and leaving out the Bronx and eastern
parts of Brooklyn and Queens. "I happen to agree with their policies,"
he added, "but their numbers are not representative of the city as
The Transportation Department, in its official report on Thursday, took
pains to say the counts represented trends in cycling habits, but were
not an estimate of the total number of cyclists in New York.
A survey by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that about
500,000 city residents ride a bicycle a few times a month, if not regularly.
Cycling appeared to be most popular in August, according to a month-by-month
breakdown of the city's data. (The full report is
available as a PDF.) The bike path along the Hudson River attracted the most bicyclists of
the six sites, and more riders were recorded at the Manhattan and Williamsburg
Bridges than at the Brooklyn and Queensboro Bridges.
The expansion of bike lanes has coincided with a drop in pedestrian fatalities,
and the city said bicycling-related injuries and deaths have not risen
despite the growth in ridership.
Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, said in a statement
that the city's streets must "keep pace with new demands,"
and she announced that her department would install 175 new hoop-shaped
bike racks, made of ductile iron, across four boroughs, using
the stumps of decommissioned, decapitated parking meters. The city has solicited vendors to manufacture an additional 6,000 racks,
which could be on the way soon.
Daniel Flanzig, Esq.
Flanzig and Flanzig LLP
323 Willis Avenue
PO Box 669
Mineola, New York 11501-0669