More Than 200,000 a Day Now Cycling, Data Suggests

פורסם: 29 באפר׳ 2010, 7:44 על ידי: Sustainability Org
April 26, 2010, 5:05 am 
J. David Goodman/The New York Times Two in 236,000, riding through Chelsea last fall.

Build it and they will ride. That’s the message conveyed in the latest annual estimate of the number of bicyclists in New York City by Transportation Alternatives, which found roughly 236,000 New Yorkers riding each day in 2009, up 28 percent from 185,000 daily riders the year before.

“More and better designed bike lanes, that’s clearly what’s fueling this growth,” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the bicycling and pedestrian advocacy group, which has conducted an annual cycling estimate for nearly two decades.

The estimate was extrapolated from cyclist counts performed by the city Department of Transportation at various downtown entry points — including East River bridge crossings, the Hudson Greenway and the Staten Island Ferry.

Total miles traveled by bike in the city also rose by about the same amount, to 1.8 million miles from 1.4 million miles, according to the estimate, with the vast majority of those miles traveled by commuters or recreational cyclists.

While the count also includes commercial riders such as bike messengers and food-delivery cyclists, Transportation Alternatives calculates that such riders travel only about 5 percent of the total miles, with non-commercial riders making up 95 percent of bike traffic on city streets.

“At this point, this is a legitimate and measurable part of the transportation picture,” said Mr. Norvell, “and with transit cuts and traffic congestion, bicycling is the only part of the transportation picture that has a positive outlook.”

Indeed, the Department of Transportation is looking to double-down on the hundreds of miles of existing bicycle infrastructure, installing more permanent, separated bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares over the next year.

With more than 200,000 cyclists now rolling around, New York has more daily riders than any other city in the country, Mr. Norvell said, though he admits that this has been the case for several years, owing to New York’s greater size. “Chicago, which is a great cycling town, would need 10 percent of its commuters on bikes to reach these numbers,” he said. “But the rapid growth in New York has moved us out into the front of the pack.”

Charles Komanoff, a policy analyst and a former president of Transportation Alternatives, performed the cycling estimate, as he has since 1992.

Beginning with data collected by the transportation department — so-called screenline counts [pdf] — at entrances to downtown Manhattan below 50th Street, Mr. Komanoff extrapolates citywide cycling rates based on factors like the bike-to-motor-vehicle ratio at the count points and motor-vehicle traffic citywide.

“The screenline number is as good a number as I think we have,” he said, “even if it probably overstates the increase in overall cycling,” because it focuses on East River crossings and the Hudson River Greenway, both popular cycling routes that have seen sharp increases in riders.

But, he added, the trend is clear.

“I think it’s kind of amazing,” Mr. Komanoff said, comparing the number of riders now to the 1980s. “I think it is now legitimate to refer to cycling as a mainstream mode of travel. And to me, that is a profound development.”


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