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The rise and rise of the New York City cycle commuter

Road.cc: The rise and rise of the New York City cycle commuter

Road fatalities at all time low, cycling at all time high

by Mark Appleton on August 1, 2011 

The seemingly inexorable rise of cycle-commuting in New York City continues apace with the latest data showing a 14% increase this spring compared to the same period last year.

The figures come from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who has been a strong advocate for cycling through the provision of bike lanes and cycling amenities in the Big Apple.

The data, which many will see as further vindication of Ms. Sadik-Khan’s sometimes vilified position championing cycling, has been compiled by counting cyclists at some of the city’s major commuter locations, something the Department of Transportation has done since 1985.

The latest figures also show that commuter cycling has risen by 62% compared to spring 2008 and that the activity has risen by a massive 262% since 2000.

When overlaid with the city’s road traffic accident statistics, the figures appear to lend significant weight to the notion that the greater the number of cyclists in an urban environment, the safer that environment becomes for all road users, be they cyclists, pedestrians or motorists.

Over the past four years traffic fatalities have fallen to record lows levels.

Almost 400 miles of cycle lanes have been installed around the city since 2002 while between 2000 and 2010, there was a 72% drop in the average risk of a serious injury to cyclists.

“More New Yorkers than ever are using the expanding bike route network, and still more are seeing the benefit it brings for everybody who uses the streets,” Sadik-Khan said.

Mayor Bloomberg echoed those sentiments. He said: “By creating more bike lanes, we’re giving New Yorkers the option to safely chose to bike. It’s the city’s responsibility to adjust to trends in commuting and ensure our streets are safe for everyone on the road, and by improving our street network and strengthening enforcement of traffic laws, we’ve made our streets safer than ever—for everyone.”

There was a record high of 18,809 cyclists per day this spring, up from 16,463 in spring 2010 and from 11,595 in spring 2008. Despite the increased numbers of riders, cycling fatalities fell from 25 in 2008 to 19 in 2010.

Back in 1985 when the city authorities began recording the number of cyclists on New York’s streets they counted approximately 3,500 riders daily.