1964 US Olympic Trials at Kissena Velodrome. From page 47 of “30 years of progress, 1934-1964 : Department of Parks : 300th anniversary of the City of New York : New York World’s Fair.” (1964). Via Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr
From the late 1890s through the 1920s, tens of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to witness the high drama of competitive bicycle speed racing. In New York, there were Velodromes (cycling tracks) at Coney Island, in the Bronx, and even at the original Madison Square Garden, where grueling six-day races called “Madisons” pushed riders to their limits. The sport fell prey to the Depression, and today there are just 26 Velodromes in the United States, including one in New York City, the Kissena Velodrome in Flushing’s Kissena Park, known to Velodrome enthusiasts as “the Track of Dreams.”
New York Awheel―On the Riverside Drive, Near the Great Monument, Munsey’s Magazine, May 1896, Illustrator: J.M. Gleeson, Private collection courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York
With 100+ miles of protected bike lanes, a flotilla of Citi Bikes, and the robust Five Boro Bike Tour, New York City ranks as one of the top 10 cycling cities in the country. In fact, the nation’s very first bike lane was designated on Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway in 1894, and the city’s cycling history reaches back two centuries. Beginning March 14th, the Museum of the City of New York will celebrate and explore that history in the new exhibit, “Cycling in the City: A 200 Year History.”
Photo via NYC DOT/Flickr
May is National Bike Month and Transportation Alternatives (TransAlt) is hosting its Bike Commuter Challenge. TransAlt and the city are challenging New Yorkers to swap their normal commuting routine and cycle to work. With Citi Bikes on almost every block, over 250 miles of new bicycle lanes, and the hellacious winter behind us, there is no excuse not to “man up.” Especially since, according to NYC DOT, more than 800,000 New Yorkers ride a bike regularly, which is 140,000 more than rode five years ago and means that NYC commuters already bike to work more than any other U.S. city.
There’s more bike-related fun to be had in May
Ocean Parkway circa 1894, via NYC Parks
While many hipsters can be seen trekking through Brooklyn on their bikes today, the borough’s infatuation with cycling actually dates back to the nineteenth century. On June 15, 1894, Ocean Parkway became the first street in the U.S. to have a designated bike lane. The nearly five-mile stretch of road was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the urban planning masterminds behind Central Park and Prospect Park. Originally, their design for Ocean Parkway was to be one of four spokes originating at Prospect Park and spanning across the borough. Today, the road doesn’t actually start at the park but runs parallel to Coney Island Avenue to reach the beach.
The full history this way
Image via Nick Harris/Flickr
As the city subway systems struggle to keep up with increased ridership, it’s a no brainer that more New Yorkers would take to the streets on bicycles rather than deal with the modern-day headaches of train travel. In fact, as 6sqft reported just yesterday, more commuters bike to work here than any other U.S. city. With the growth of bike riding, Mayor de Blasio’s administration is further expanding biker-friendly infrastructure. According to Crain’s, the Department of Transportation announced plans this Monday to add 10 miles of protected bicycle lanes and allocate 50 miles of regular bikeways annually starting this year.
Read more about the mayor’s bike lane rollout
Image via WikiCommons
Earlier this year, 6sqft shared data from the Department of Transportation that found daily Citi Bike ridership had grown 80 percent from 2010 to 2015, and now, according to new information published in the Times, those figures have ballooned even more. Last Wednesday was “the highest single-day ridership of any system in the Western world outside of Paris,” reports the bike share program, with a staggering 70,286 trips. These figures are part of an overall bike-centric trend in the city that “has outpaced population and employment growth” with New Yorkers taking an average of 450,000 daily bike trips, exponentially higher than the 2005 average of 170,000. And about one-fifth of these trips is by commuters, making New York home to more bike commuters than any other city in the country.
More details ahead
The NYC Department of Transportation has released its new “Cycling in the City” report, which examines how frequently New Yorkers use bikes as a mode of transportation and how that frequency has changed over time. In 2016, there were 14 million Citi Bike trips taken, a whopping 40 percent more than the previous year. And in terms of general bike riding, the DOT found that daily cycling grew 80 percent from 2010 to 2015, with 450,000 cycling trips made on a typical day in New York. But what has this meant for drivers? Less parking, thanks to the the city’s 1,000+ miles of bike lanes. NY1 reports that in Manhattan alone, 2,300 parking spots south of 125th Street were lost in recent years to bike lanes and bike-sharing stations.
, Wed, September 14, 2016
The city’s newly released, five-year transportation plan is all about the bikes. As part of his larger Vision Zero initiative, the Mayor announced yesterday that he’ll roll out 75 miles of new bike lanes by the end of this year, which includes 18 miles of protected lanes, reports Gothamist. They’ll be dispersed throughout the five boroughs, but centered in areas where the highest number of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities occur.
Find out more
With CitiBike expanding deeper into NYC’s many neighborhoods and 70-plus miles of new and upgraded bike lanes added this year alone, it comes as no surprise that more and more New Yorkers are taking to the streets on two wheels. However, while things appear to be changing for the better, it may come as a surprise to many that when it comes to bike-friendliness, NYC still lags way behind other urban hubs. Ahead Michael Seth Wexler of Copenhagenize, a Copenhagen-based consulting firm that publishes the world’s bi-annual bicycle-friendly city index, gives us some insight into why New York can’t seem to catch up with other cities, as well as what can be done to foster a safer more inviting space for cyclists.
MORE ON NYC AND BIKING HERE…
The Department of Transportation just released the downloadable 2016 New York City Bike Map ahead of a paper version due next month. This year’s map shows 70 miles of new or “upgraded” bike-specific lanes, twelve of which are protected (physically separated from auto traffic). Also on the map are seven miles of newly-created off-street bike lanes.
Check out the map