Whether it’s for their health, to be environmentally sound or to avoid the city’s aged and angst-inducing subway system, more New Yorkers are hitting the streets on two wheels than ever before.
In fact, daily cycling has risen 150 percent since 2006, according to “Safer Cycling: Bicycle Ridership and Safety in New York City,” which was released Monday by the city's Department of Transportation, the NYPD and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"Cycling is at a record-breaking percent,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, adding that there are now 1,133 miles of bike lanes throughout the five boroughs, with 425 of them protected, “which are the kind we most like to ride.”
“Safe Cycling” also revealed that there is safety in numbers, and despite there being 18 cyclist fatalities in 2016, the overall number has dropped 71 percent over the past 20 years.
With 90 percent of such fatalities occurring outside bike lanes, the city aims to continue building its network of dedicated lanes, especially in 10 neighborhoods — from Gravesend and East Flatbush in Brooklyn to Ridgewood and Jackson Heights in Queens — where the highest number of deaths occur.
To that end, those 10 designated Priority Bicycle Districts will see the creation or expansion of 75 miles of bike facilities by 2022.
Additional plans by the DOT to continue growing the city’s cycling include increasing bike facilities from 80 percent to 90 percent by 2022, advocating for laws requiring side guards on trucks doing business with the city, developing safety outreach for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians and more.
“Based on this report, we know bike lanes are indeed saving lives. They’re making New Yorkers healthier, and they’re helping us deal with the strains we’re seeing in our transit system,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “But we’ve only scratched the surface. There are now more bicyclists in NYC than any city in the United States, by far.”
That’s thanks largely in part to Citi Bike, which rolled out in 2013 and will soon have its latest expansion to Harlem and additional parts of Queens and Brooklyn. The service recently had a record 70,000 rides in a single day, according to Jay Walder, CEO of Motivate, which operates Citi Bike.
“Biking is no longer a niche of our city — it is the mainstream of ways that we are getting around,” he continued. “We're using it for simple reasons: It’s fast. It’s convenient, and it’s affordable — and we’re making it safer and safer as well.”
It also “burns no fuel, emits no carbon, and it’s healthy,” Trottenberg added.