Times Poll: New Yorkers Really Love Bike Lanes, Bike-Share, and Plazas

Across boroughs, ages, races, and income levels, New Yorkers like bike lanes, bike-share, and plazas. Image: NYT

This morning, the New York Times released a comprehensive poll on what New Yorkers think of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and programs from his administration. Bike-share, bike lanes, and plazas got high approval numbers across boroughs, ages, races, and income levels. Many of the mayoral candidates might be hesitant to acknowledge it, but New Yorkers love their livable streets.

Of course, this is not a groundbreaking revelation. In 2010, the Times said, “there have been no independent polls of New Yorkers’ attitudes on bicycle lanes.” Since then, Marist, Quinnipiac, and the Times itself have polled on bike lanes, adding questions about bike-share and pedestrian plazas. They’ve consistently found that New Yorkers support these programs:

  • July 2009: Two months after Broadway in Times Square went pedestrian-only, Quinnipiac says 58 percent of New Yorkers support it.
  • March 2011: Even with the press in bike backlash mode, 54 percent tell Quinnipiac that the city’s expansion of bike lanes is “a good thing.”
  • July 2011: Quinnipiac asks the same question again; support jumps to 59 percent.
  • August 2011: 66 percent of New Yorkers support bike lanes, according to Marist.
  • October 2011: Quinnipiac finds 58 percent support bike lanes, and 72 percent approve of bike-share.
  • August 2012: Support for bike-share in the Q poll jumps to 74 percent.

Immediately after its launch, when public support was expected to be weakest and the city press corps had a full-on freakout, Quinnipiac found that half of New Yorkers supported bike-share, with only 20 percent opposed. In today’s poll, those numbers have gone back to their pre-launch highs, with 73 percent in support.

Before today, the most recent numbers on bike lanes were from an August 2012 Times poll, in which 66 percent of New Yorkers said bike lanes were a good idea, and 30 percent said they were likely to use bike-share. The poll also found that the city’s household bike ownership rate is higher than its car ownership rate.

The best part of today’s poll, though, is the crosstabs: across boroughs, ages, races, and income levels, New Yorkers support bike lanes, bike-share, and plazas.

Support for bike lanes is highest among residents of Brooklyn and the Bronx. Sixty-four percent of the city’s white population supports bike lanes, as does 63 percent of the black population and 71 percent of Hispanics. Support drops with age: 75 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds support bike lanes, while 48 percent of those 65 years and older approve. It should be noted, though, that only 40 percent of seniors disapprove of bike lanes.

Support for bike lanes. Image: NYT

Bike-share is most popular in Brooklyn and Manhattan, which currently have the service, but 70 percent of Bronx residents and 68 percent of Queens residents also support the program. Bike-share is supported by all age groups, with support highest among 30-44 year-olds, at 80 percent.

Support for bike-share. Image: NYT

Pedestrian plazas poll above 70 percent in all boroughs, peaking at 77 percent in the borough with the most crowded sidewalks, Manhattan. Support for plazas is 74 percent among white and Hispanic populations, and 69 percent for black respondents. Support for all three programs — bike lanes, bike-share, and plazas — is higher among men than women.

Support for pedestrian plazas. Image: NYT

The poll of 1,029 New Yorkers was conducted from August 2 to 7. Its margin of error is 3 percentage points, and higher for subgroups, ranging from 4 to 7 points. The poll did not break out numbers for Staten Island due to insufficient sampling.