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Biking has taken off in New York

Tony Wagner May 11, 2015

New York has long been known as a city for walking and public transit, but it’s increasingly becoming a city of bikes.

According to the city Department of Transportation, the number of cyclists on major byways tripled between 2004 and 2014, the most recent year with available data. The decade before that only showed modest gains. 

Most of these cyclists were tallied up manually. Surveyors picked a clear day and camped out at several high-traffic areas, mainly New York’s major bridges and the Staten Island Ferry. The DOT added more count days starting in 2007, and started using some automated counters last spring. So the averaged-out counts have gotten more accurate over time. It’s not a good measure of every cyclist in New York, but it definitely shows an upward trend.

While ridership is increasing, it’s also getting safer. Deaths and serious injuries — city-wide, not just on bridges — remained pretty steady from 2000 to 2013, the last year with data available.

More interest in cycling begets bike programs; in this case Citi Bike, which launched two years ago, has been a key driver. The bike-share service offers discounts to people in public housing and has plans to expand, though as of last year bikes were fairly concentrated to lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

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