DOT Bike Counts Are In and NYC Cycling Hit New Highs in 2016

Bicycling on the East River bridges continues to rise, just not as rapidly as it used to. Chart: NYC DOT
Bicycling on the East River bridges continues to rise, just not as rapidly as it used to. Chart: NYC DOT

Cycling in New York City continued to climb last year, according to the latest metrics from NYC DOT [PDF]. The new stats show that while cyclist counts in the center city aren’t increasing as rapidly as they did from 2005 to 2011, Census counts of bike commuters are rising as fast as ever.

In 2016, bike counts at the four East River bridges increased 2.3 percent and counts of cyclists crossing 50th Street increased 17 percent compared to the year before.

The number of people biking on Midtown avenues at 50th Street increased 17.3 percent last year. Image: DOT
The number of people biking on Midtown avenues at 50th Street increased 17.3 percent last year. Image: DOT

The report also shows the growth in Citi Bike ridership as the system has expanded. The average daily number of bike-share trips jumped from about 27,300 in 2015 to about 38,500 in 2016

With the bike-share network growing up to 125th Street, it’s not a surprise that bike counts at 86th Street increased 11 percent compared to the year before. This is the first time DOT has released the 86th Street counts as part of its annual cycling report:

This is the first time DOT has released bike counts from 86th Street. Image: DOT
This is the first time DOT has released bike counts from 86th Street. Image: DOT

Meanwhile, in the annual Census survey, the three-year average of daily bike commuters increased to 45,000 in 2015, up from 41,800 the previous year.

Extrapolating from the Census numbers, DOT estimates that New Yorkers make 450,000 bike trips on an average day (because in general, commuting accounts for about 20 percent of all trips).

NYC has more daily bike commuters than ever before. Image: DOT
The number of bike commuters in NYC, according to the Census. Image: DOT

While DOT has recently said it intends to develop new metrics to track citywide cycling trends, those are not in evidence except for the 86th Street counts. With significant bike infrastructure investments underway or in the pipeline for locations like Queens Boulevard, the Grand Concourse, Bruckner Boulevard, and the Harlem River bridges, expanding the scope of the bike counts makes more sense than ever. Rumor has it that more bike count locations are in progress, but DOT said it has no plans at this time to release annual bike counts for outer borough locations.

DOT released the bike count data much earlier this year than in 2016, a welcome change. But the stats would be more timely and reliable if they were released as feeds on the city’s open data portal. Last year, the city didn’t release the breakdown of Midtown bike crossings on each avenue and the Hudson River Greenway, an oversight that an open data feed would help avoid.

Correction: This post originally stated that the more rapid increase in citywide biking in the Census, compared to bike counts at the East River bridges and 50th Street, indicates that cycling may be growing faster citywide than in the center of town. However, the Census numbers also show that the largest growth in cycling is happening in Manhattan, making that theory unlikely. The post has been amended to reflect the borough by borough Census data.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Unless that’s a typo, I’m surprised the DOT counts bike trips crossing 50th Street rather than 59th Street.

  • ahwr

    Not a typo. DOT has been counting bikes at 50th street for a long time.

  • Larry Littlefield

    That means they miss those from north of the CBD traveling to locations between 50th and 59th. I always assumed it matched the “Hub Bound” data.

  • ahwr
  • JK

    People want to ride and need more room to bike on the East River Bridges. Manhattan bound bike paths on the bridges are at or near capacity some AM commutes. If DOT gave QBB North Outer Roadway to bikes and South to peds and gave cyclists one of the car lanes on the Bklyn, you’d see a big bump on the ERBs. Also, how about adding some annual bike counts on streets like 34th ave and Vernon Blvd in Qns and other secondary arterials popular with cyclists in Bklyn and Bx? These core counts dont give enough info about what is happening and cover a very small portion of NYC area. In era of cheap digital video, shouldnt be too hard to expand the counts at low cost.

  • Vooch

    best solution would be to reallocate on motor lane of Brooklyn Bridge to cycling. Capacity on BB would increase by some 15-20%

    Motor traffic on BB is down some 20% from peak a few years ago so reallocating one motor lane to more efficient transportation will not harm motorists, it will only increase BB capacity.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Count on It: NYC Bike Commuting Climbs 26 Percent

|
The screenline count has risen dramatically since 2007. Graphic: NYCDOT (PDF) Here’s one indicator that’s looking pretty recession-proof: New York City bike commuting shot up 26 percent in 2009, according to data released today by the Department of Transportation. The increase marks the second straight year of robust cycling growth in the city. Last year […]

NYC Bike Counts Jump 35 Percent

|
The rumors were spot on. Yesterday DOT announced a 35 percent increase in commuter cycling. This year, an average of more than 12,500 cyclists were counted crossing DOT’s screenline — a set of checkpoints leading into the Manhattan CBD — up from about 9,300 in 2007. It’s the biggest jump in raw numbers since the […]

Warm Weather Bike Count Flat in 2012, While Winter Counts Grow

|
Earlier this week, DOT released its 2012 bike counts [PDF], including a new dataset — counts from the winter months. The agency has been tallying cyclists in December, January, and February for five years, and this year released the winter counts, in addition to April-through-October counts, for the first time. The data show that warm […]

3 Big Takeaways From NYC DOT’s 2014 Bike Count [Updated]

|
NYC DOT has posted the 2014 screenline bike count [PDF] (after some prodding from us last week), showing a 4 percent increase over the previous year. Following double-digit percentage growth every year from 2006 to 2010, this marks the fourth consecutive year without an increase of 10 percent or more. The screenline captures bike trips across […]