Map It: How Bikes Can Fill Transit Gaps

Much more of Western Queens is a half-hour trip away from Union Square when bikes are part of the transportation system. Image: ##http://blog.charleyferrari.com/2011/09/maspeth-new-york-citys-cycling-capital.html##Charley Ferrari##

It’s no surprise that Williamsburg and Greenpoint proved to be an early epicenter of the recent bike boom. Few neighborhoods so physically close to the Manhattan core had such limited transit access, and bikes were a common-sense way to fill that gap.

By the same logic, argues Charley Ferrari, the next great bike neighborhoods might just be Maspeth, the Astoria waterfront and Red Hook. Ferrari noticed that the online mapping tool Mapnificent, which shows everywhere you can travel on public transportation from a given point in a certain amount of time, includes an option to include bikes in its calculations. That allowed him to visually analyze which neighborhoods get the biggest accessibility boost from a bike.

Wrote Ferrari:

I’ve always thought about what sort of long term effects prevalent bike usage would have on the geography of the city, and this tool allows you to get a visual idea of this. So many areas are easier to get to if you don’t have to worry about staying close to a subway line, and even more areas open up if you take your bike on the subway, which is how Mapnificent does its calculations.

As Ferrari notes, the biggest gains come once bikes and transit are integrated. As a Department of City Planning study found in 2009, less than 30 percent of Queens is within walking distance of the subway, but more than 70 percent is an easy bike ride to the train.

Programs that make it easier to bike to the subway are therefore a critical frontier for New York City transportation policy. Whether that’s outer-borough bike lanes feeding into transit hubs, as proposed by a team of Hunter planning students, better bike parking at rail stations or a bike-sharing program that allows for easy last-mile trips without the worries of finding secure parking, a bike-to-transit program could transform the way people get around in neighborhoods where transit options aren’t as plentiful.

Streetsblog NYC will be back on Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend, folks.

  • Moser

    I’ve heard the workforce at Build it Green (bignyc.org) near the Triboro Bridge has a bike mode share of ~90%

  • Anonymous

    This is where one of the sub-categories of Bicycle Lunatics (of which I am an enthusiastic member) proponents of folding bikes, get all worked up about the ability to easily use multiple modes and the huge increase in range and convenience created by combining bikes with public transport.

  • One simple way to offer relatively secure bike parking at subway stations is to place some bike racks inside the station, preferably beyond the fare gates.  Chicago does this at some of their L stations.  Some New York subway stations — especially the ones on the old IND lines — have lots of empty space that could be turned easily into bike parking.

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  • Larry Littlefield

    Bikes plus transit is great for mobility.

    That’s why I believe the biggest potential for bikes is in the suburbs, or suburban parts of the city.  It provides the same non-auto mobility those of us closer in get with walking and transit, at lower densities (but with three times the speed).

  • Charley Ferrari

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus 

  • Charley Ferrari

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus I always thought if development were ever tied to bikes the way it was tied to cars in the past, you would end up with the sort of density you see in Eastern Bronx and Queens.

  • Larry Littlefield

    When I was in my 20s I never even considered living in most neighborhoods in Queens, on the Southern rim of Brooklyn, or in the East Bronx, because I wanted to live cheaply, without a car.  So I settled closer in, in walking distance to transit and other things.  

    But now close in neighborhoods in the small number of economically viable central cities are unaffordable.  (And so is new transit lines, given that the whole country is broke).

    So it does seem like the transportation and urban form evolution will have to come in the suburbs, with bicycles, carpooling, allowing commercial space mixed in with residences, and other ways to avoid the expense of multiple cars per household.

  • Vivianandrews

    I know that City Maps shows the whole city and shows street parking. I wonder if that would be of any help?

  • Vivianandrews

    I know that City Maps shows the whole city and shows street parking. I wonder if that would be of any help?

  • Vivianandrews

    I know that City Maps shows the whole city and shows street parking. I wonder if that would be of any help?

  • Vivianandrews

    I know that City Maps shows the whole city and shows street parking. I wonder if that would be of any help?

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