Transportation

Cycling in New York Doubles in Four Years

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 09, 2011

The New York City Department of Transportation just released a report finding that commuter cycling has more than doubled since 2007, a period during which the city added 350 km of new bike lanes to the 750 km the city already had.

This is precisely what cycling advocates predicted would happen as New York got serious about building a continuous network of cycling infrastructure - work that continues today.

The city plans next to replace 6,000 parking meters with new bike racks. Next year they also plan to roll out a 10,000 vehicle bike share with stations every few blocks across Manhattan.

It's also important to note that while the number of cyclists has doubled, the number of cycling-related injuries has remained flat.

Under Mayor Mike Bloomberg and DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, New York has taken a leadership role in further rebalancing the city's already pedestrian- and transit-friendly transportation system to favour cleaner, healthier, safer and more sustainable modes.

NYC DOT even has a program called Neighbourhood Slow Zones in which communities can organize to reduce the speed of residential streets to 32 km/h (20 mph) through traffic calming and signage.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2011 at 08:10:49

sounds great but that will neve work here - this is hamilton!

after all, we have (circle one for each):

more|less snow

more|fewer people

more|less traffic

higher|lower density

more|less land within our borders

more|fewer cyclists

more|less brains

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-12-09 08:11:15

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By DBC (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 08:45:14 in reply to Comment 72042

You forgot to include our "Alp like" escarpment as another squelch worthy barrier to change.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 09:56:51 in reply to Comment 72045

im a cyclist. I moved here because of the "Alp like" escarpment as opposed to in spite of it . Remember every time you go up it , you get to come back down..

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 14:48:17 in reply to Comment 72057

My favorite part of the day is usually the morning ride down the hill!

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By it will work here too (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 08:52:15

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 09:09:10 in reply to Comment 72046

How do you think avalanches start? One small shift...

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By unless you are talking motorized (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 09:41:45

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By jacob (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 19:41:47 in reply to Comment 72051

my 87 year old grandmother in Copenhagen still cycles. Last summer one day she went 37 km. Everyone cycles there. Oh and she lives 25 km out of the city, it's mainly trips to corner store, park etc, but about the same or lower density as any hamilton neighbourhood.

It helps that to buy a car there costs circa $50,000 minimum for a small car with a 1L engine, and the gas price is double.

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By just don't get it (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2011 at 19:56:47 in reply to Comment 72090

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By just don't get it (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 12:26:01 in reply to Comment 72113

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By get real (anonymous) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 08:40:56 in reply to Comment 72124

The point that you failed to glean from his post (presumably because it wasn't smashed over your head for you) was that we've sent the wrong price signals here, making driving much easier and WAY cheaper than it should be.

And the extension of this is that we have a population where 87 year olds can't ride to the store (even if they are physically capable of it) because there's no safe route to get there.

And the further extension is that the way we do things now is bringing us down (which clearly you are fine with since you don't want us to change what we are doing).

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By war on cars (anonymous) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 12:39:42 in reply to Comment 72142

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted December 12, 2011 at 14:58:07 in reply to Comment 72153

keeping in mind that all gas taxes go to roads

That's not really true in that the governments rarely sequester revenues like that.

More important, not all roads are covered by gas taxes and other vehicle fees. For example, the roads which we are discussing are maintained by the city of Hamilton, so gas taxes have precisely NOTHING to do with the situation.

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By ok (anonymous) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 15:11:29 in reply to Comment 72168

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 12, 2011 at 13:09:03 in reply to Comment 72153

Here are some actual facts:

In fact, Transport Canada did a study in 2005, which found that the annual total financial costs of the road system in Canada are $16.5 to $25.8 billion, while annual revenues from fuel taxes and fees at the federal and provincial levels were only $12.8 billion, i.e. a shortfall of between $3.7 and $13 billion per year.

The Transport Canada study then tried to include every conceivable source of revenue associated with roads and motorists: traffic fines, lot levies (development charges imposed by municipalities), special assessments, parking charges, building prices (share of road revenues embedded in building prices) and find total road revenues of between $15.1 and $17.2 billion.

Thus, even taking into account revenue sources, such as parking charges and traffic fines, that shouldn't really be thought of as user fees for roads, there is still an annual shortfall of between $1.4 and $8.6 billion per year.

Far from motorists 'subsidizing the entire government' as many people think, motorists are being subsidized from general tax revenue to the tune of billions of dollars per year!

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By just don't get it (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 23:41:03 in reply to Comment 72157

Roads may be subsidized in a direct way. Take into account how much the automobile and truck industry inject into the economy and that paints a different picture. From the miner digging the ore and the coal to the steel makers and on to the parts manufacturers and finally to the car assemblers. Every step along the way injects taxes into the governments coffers and helps to fuel the economy. That is why the governments fall over themselves to help attract automobile related plants and jobs. The amount of taxes paid by all the steps and components of the manufacture of autos, parts and fuel is a major backbone of our economy. All those taxes raised is what pays for the roads. All those people employed who can buy nice houses and pay their fair share and more of property taxes is what drives the economy. All those subsidized roads is what makes our lifestyle possible. We have the best lifestyle man has ever had. Fresh produce from the south. Quick access to hospitals, stores and jobs. Cheap transit locally and provincially. All being done because of those "subsidized" roads. Those subsidized roads is what makes our civilization possible.

Do you really want to go back to the horse and buggy? Give your head a shake and get a grip on reality.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2011 at 06:44:11 in reply to Comment 72321

Do you really want to go back to the horse and buggy?

We can't have a constructive debate if you keep falling back on strawman attacks and hyperbole. Please stop.

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By just don't get it (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2011 at 09:38:29 in reply to Comment 72323

What straw man attacks? You try to paint this sinister picture of subsided roads and the evils that creates and promotes. I on the other hand am trying to correct your short sightedness by showing you how things really are. The car and truck industry is one of the driving forces in our economy. (pun intended)

Your views have no basis in reality. That is not a straw man attack it is the truth. Get over it.

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By so (anonymous) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 13:30:19 in reply to Comment 72157

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By mathemagician? (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2011 at 08:24:59 in reply to Comment 72159

What are you talking about?

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By fairness (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2011 at 08:50:16 in reply to Comment 72192

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By mathemagician? (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2011 at 10:52:20 in reply to Comment 72194

Sorry, what does the 85% represent and where did it come from?

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By fairness (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2011 at 11:09:24 in reply to Comment 72198

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By mathemagician? (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2011 at 12:42:02 in reply to Comment 72200

This column is getting too skinny!

No it doesn't leave 85%, you can't take such a simplistic approach to that number. If you want to use numbers like that then you have to dig into the actual passenger miles travelled. distance matters. Additionally you have to consider non-commuter trips - week-ending at the cottage 4 hours away for example. And if we really want to get into the nitty gritty, we need to know about tax breaks given to anything related to the automotive and road construction industries, not to mention the burden on local taxpayers to support the sprawling land use model that car use promotes and requires. What about property taxes lost on land used for parking (either public or private)?

All of these burdens on the general tax add to the car subsidy. YOur calculation is an impossible best case scenario. And even that does show a subsidy (though you seem to think it's too small to matter).

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By if you want to use all of the numbers (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2011 at 13:01:25 in reply to Comment 72216

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 10, 2011 at 08:14:42 in reply to Comment 72090

"Sorry but this isn't Copenhagen kids!" -B Kelly.

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By just don't get it (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 12:29:58 in reply to Comment 72097

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By wow, what a lame reaction (anonymous) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 16:25:23 in reply to Comment 72125

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By get real (anonymous) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 08:37:04 in reply to Comment 72125

Here we go with the escarpment again... No biking allowed in Hamilton because "just don't get it" can't ride back up to his mommy's house at stone church and wentworth after his shift mopping floors at the jackson square mcdonalds!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2011 at 10:18:10 in reply to Comment 72051

"Less than 50% of the population is even physically capable of cycling." This is an interesting statistic. Where did you find it?

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 10, 2011 at 08:18:11 in reply to Comment 72059

Sean, that is unfair of you to ask for proof to back up statements! Just look at the info coming out of the mayors office.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 09:46:50 in reply to Comment 72051

Hey Allan, weren't you banned from this site?

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 13:54:30

Maybe more people are choosing to cycle as a way to save money because of a weak economy the past few years?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2011 at 14:04:17 in reply to Comment 72077

It's possible that the economy has had some bearing on aggregate transportation choices over the past few years.

I can think of a couple of ways to test that hypothesis:

We could see whether the correlation between cycling infrastructure and cycling rates in New York correlates with the economy over a longer period.

As it turns out, cycling has increased nearly 300% since 2001, even during the period when the economy grew steadily from 2001 to 2008.

Another test would be to look at whether increasing the availability of cycling infrastructure was also connected with increasing rates of cycling in other cities at different times.

Again, the general pattern over the past 35 years has been that when cities build continuous cycling infrastructure, the rate of cycling goes up dramatically. When cities don't build continuous cycling infrastructure, the rate of cycling doesn't increase significantly.

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By just don't get it (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2011 at 20:02:30 in reply to Comment 72079

Even when the cycling lanes are form a homogeneous sane continuous network do all those bike trips account to more than 1% of the people miles traveled compared to cars? Transit? Walking? I know what my opinion is but I have never seen any stats on it. If cycling has increased 300% in those years has automobile traffic increased as well or has it fallen off? Same for transit?

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By jacob (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 19:48:06

another mispricing situation. Cars should cost what they cost. Roads should cost what they cost. If Dalton's having trouble balancing the budget then enough with the handouts to auto and road makers!!!

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By YYZ (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 14:56:48

I wonder if this study controlled for the increasing number of hipsters worldwide

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By awesome (anonymous) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 08:42:56 in reply to Comment 72126

I don't understand the downvotes - I for one appreciated the joke and I'm borderline hipster...

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 16:11:29

The recession has indeed been wonderful for the cause of pedestrian environments and the growing appreciation of life's little pleasures.

The rapid expansion of bike lanes under Sadik-Khan (made possible in part by her "streamlined" approach to community consultation) can also be credited for the stats. As the NYT noted in on Sept 10, 2011, "Since the mayor appointed her in 2007 and she began to bring her agency’s work more closely in line with his vision of a greener New York, the city has roughly doubled its miles of bike lanes, to about 500." So right there, you've got a reason for the numbers, turgid economy or not.

And yes, the synchronous eagerness to leave a legacy has been helpful, no doubt. Despite his reputation as a nanny statist par excellence, Bloomberg installed JSK and has generally been supportive of her initiatives. Having billions in the bank, after all, does provide one with a certain amount of insulation against the practical considerations of late-term politicos, who often start pandering in the hopes of jumping to the state or federal stage. As long as he is in office, JSK will probably be A-OK.

Never let it be said that a plutocrat who squashes term limits is a bad thing.

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 19:07:42

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 11, 2011 at 19:15:26 in reply to Comment 72130

So work should be invested in the clean electric vehicle and not the ancient artifacts like the bicycle.

Bicycles, electric cars and internal combustion cars were all invented around the same time in the late 1800s.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 23:12:28

Oh Ryan, you and your facts. You and Sean have a crazy notion that for something to be presented as true, you need evidence to back it up. I can’t imagine that would be the process at universities, labs, or research centres. If people wasted all their time gathering all this info it would take forever. Better to just gutfeeling it and make it so.

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