By Bill Parry
Bicycles have never been a more popular mode of transportation in New York City, with close to half a million riders each day.
A new report by the Department of Transportation, the NYPD and the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene finds ridership has risen 150 percent since 2006. While improved cyclist safety has accompanied the explosive growth, the city has identified several Queens neighborhoods as Priority Bicycle Districts where fatalities and injuries are significantly higher, but are underserved by the bicycle network.
Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, Glendale and Ridgewood, along with seven districts in Brooklyn, account for 23 percent of cyclist fatalities or severe injuries, but have just 14 percent of the city’s bike lane network. So as the DOT moves forward with bike lane expansion, Community Boards 3, 4 and 5 will get priority.
“The dramatic growth of cycling is great news as New Yorkers discover a means of transportation that is affordable, sustainable, healthy and fun,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said Monday. Under Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, cyclist safety is our paramount concern as demonstrated by our record construction of protected bike lanes. But we have so much more work to do, and this study provides a detailed and data-driven road map to make cycling even safer.”
Since 2006, the DOT has increased the quality and size of the bike network by adding 308 conventional bike lane miles and 74 lane miles of protected bike lane that separate riders from vehicular traffic. The study shows between 2006 and 2016, the vast majority — 89 percent — of cyclist fatalities occurred on streets without bike lanes.
“While we continue to make progress on Vision Zero this year, one cyclist fatality is still too many,” de Blasio said. “The conclusion of this excellent multi-agency study — that cycling has grown safer at the same time its popularity has soared — means that our Vision Zero efforts, including redesigning streets to add protected bike lanes, are making a real difference. With detailed and specific plans to make further improvements that protect cyclists in neighborhoods around the city, this study will help us keep that momentum going for years to come.”
The DOT pledged to build 50 new miles of bike lanes each year, including at least 10 miles of protected lanes.
“Bikes give New Yorkers the freedom to get around where they want, when they want — going places that traditional transit just doesn’t go,” Motivate President and CEO Jay Walder said. “We see this with New Yorkers taking over 70,000 trips per day on Citi Bike. We are grateful to the city for the work it’s done to build out the bike network in the Citi Bike service area.”
Motivate is the company that operates Citi Bike which announced this week it would expand its bike-sharing service into Astoria this fall with nearly 60 bike stations planned for the neighborhood. The final map was released last Friday by the DOT, which worked with Community Board 1 through public workshops to choose dock locations.
“I am proud the idea for Citi Bike expansion into Astoria arose at a meeting in my office two years ago,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “Providing more transportation options for our rapidly growing neighborhood remains a priority.”
Citi Bike has been operating in Long Island City since 2015.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr