The New York City Department of Transportation recorded an eight percent increase in the number of people biking into Manhattan below 50th street this year. The bike count has now doubled since 2007, when the city’s first on-street protected bike lane was installed on Ninth Avenue.
This year’s increase is less than the double-digit increases of recent years, and it appears to have been hampered by construction work on the Manhattan Bridge, which has forced cyclists to detour onto the Bowery, with all its barreling truck traffic, on inbound trips. The city released a preliminary bike count in the spring that found a bigger increase — 14 percent — before the construction detour took effect.
NYC DOT’s screenline count measures cyclists crossing the four East River bridges, the Hudson River Greenway at 50th Street, and riding the Staten Island Ferry. It’s the best hard count of cycling activity available but doesn’t capture bike trips outside the city core.
In addition to the new bike count, NYC DOT announced that it is expanding its program to convert defunct coin-slot parking meters into bike parking. The department has transmogrified 175 meters so far and plans to convert thousands more. They are currently reviewing responses to an RFP seeking to repurpose 6,000 meters as bike racks.
“Our infrastructure needs to keep pace with new demands on city streets,” transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement. “By transforming obsolete parking meters into off-the-rack bike parking, we are recycling old facilities to meet this growing need.”
An additional 6,000 bike racks would represent nearly a 50 percent increase over the current total of 13,000. While the number of racks has skyrocketed in the last few years, DOT needs to make up for the loss of tens of thousands of decommissioned parking meters that functioned as de facto bike parking spaces.
With today’s announcement, DOT seems to have hit one of the benchmarks in its Sustainable Streets strategic plan, which set out to double bicycling rates compared to 2007 levels by 2012. The next target: Tripling the 2007 baseline cycling rate by 2017.