Bike commuting has been growing the fastest in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, according to the Census. Chart: NYC DOT
Biking in New York City has been rising at a steady clip, according to a new report from NYC DOT, increasing about 50 percent between 2010 and 2014 — maybe more, depending on the metric you look at. What’s not so clear is how things changed in 2015, because the report lacks key information about bike traffic on the Hudson River Greenway.
The new report, “Cycling in the City” [PDF], combines data from three main sources: the U.S. Census, a city Department of Health survey, and DOT’s bike counts on Midtown avenues and the East River bridges (it also includes some Citi Bike numbers).
Overall, the surveys and bike counts show an unambiguous upward trend in cycling, affirming the impact of recent investments in bike infrastructure. The report also shows where bicycling growth is lagging, perhaps as a result of slower bike network expansion compared to the rest of the city.
In some ways the report is a step up from the annual cycling metrics DOT has released in the past, which only included the DOT bike counts. Folding in the Census bike commute numbers and health department survey data yields a more complete view of citywide and borough-by-borough cycling trends.
According to the Census, bike commuting has grown the fastest in Brooklyn, rising 75 percent from 2010 to 2014. Close behind are Manhattan and Queens at 68 percent. Then it’s a steep drop to the Bronx, at 19 percent growth, and Staten Island at 9 percent.
DOT’s bike program has a substantial slate of projects on tap for this year — including protected lanes in every borough except Staten Island — but more can be done. “Cycling rates continue to rise across the five boroughs, even as the bike lane network remains spotty,” said Transportation Alternative Executive Director Paul Steely White. “To meet this challenge, New York City needs equitable acceleration and expansion of the bike network in the Bronx and Staten Island, as well.”
As welcome as it is to have a fresh report on cycling trends in New York, there are some perplexing omissions. Namely, it’s impossible to compare DOT’s 2015 bike counts to previous years, because unlike previous reports, this one doesn’t include counts of cyclists on the Hudson River Greenway and 50th Street, or at the Whitehall ferry terminal.