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.
The expansion comes at a time when bike ridership is becoming even more popular than the bus. That’s partly to do with the introduction of Citi Bike in 2013, which has slowly expanded into more neighborhoods across New York and now counts a total of 10,000 bikes over 600 locations. Just this May, in fact, Citi Bike’s parent company, Motivate, approached City Hall with a plan to add 6,000 bikes to the system–4,000 of them in areas that currently have no docks.
In addition to the new bike lanes, the DOT has also identified “priority bicycle districts” in which the city agency will rev up safety efforts in areas with high numbers of fatalities and injuries. Such districts include seven neighborhoods in Brooklyn and three in Queens, according to Crain’s.
Alongside the growth of Citi Bike, the city has worked hard over the past few years to build out more bicycle infrastructure. The number of bike paths citywide has more than doubled in the last decade, to 1,133 miles from 513 miles in 2006. Of the existing paths, 425 miles are protected from cars not just with paint, but with a physical barrier. (These types of lanes are hailed as the safest for bikers.) Last year, the city set a record after installing 15 protected bike paths. In another safety measure, the city plans to begin distributing free bike helmets and protective gear for delivery workers who cycle.
The numbers that show growing bike use in the city are staggering: daily bike trips in the city have risen faster than its population and employment base and now approaching 450,000 a day, almost three times as many as the 170,000 average daily trips in 2005.
As for Citi Bike, more than 14 million trips were made using Citi Bikes in 2016, with almost seven million so far in 2017. The company saw a record 57,708 average daily trips in June, up 19 percent from the same time last year. And one day last week, Citi Bike trips hit an all-time high of 70,286. The bicycle sharing system declared it “the highest single-day ridership of any system in the Western world outside of Paris.”
Ultimately, the city’s goal is to protect more bikers as ridership soars—90 percent of cyclist fatalities have occurred outside of bikeways. But there may be some innovative changes to accessing Citi Bike in the future. City Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, who chairs the Committee on Transportation, has raised the idea of one day instituting a single-fare transfer from Citi Bikes to mass transit.
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