Bike Lanes More Popular Than God

A growing majority of New Yorkers support the creation of new bike lanes, according to a series of Quinnipiac polls.

New York City’s bike lanes are now officially more popular than God. So here’s a helpful tip to ambitious New York City politicians: it might just be time to get on board with bike lanes.

The latest survey of New Yorkers by the nationally respected Quinnipiac University Polling Institute shows support for new bike lanes at a new high. 59 percent of New Yorkers support the expansion of the bicycle network, up from 54 percent in March. Only 35 percent now disapprove.

For some context, compare the 59 percent approval enjoyed by New York City bike lanes to a recent national poll which found only a 52 percent approval rating for God. The creation of the universe, to be fair, significantly outpolled new bike lanes, with 71 percent of Americans approving.

Back in the realm of the secular, more New Yorkers think bike lanes are a good thing than a bad thing across all racial categories and all age groups. Majority support for more bike lanes can be found in every borough but Staten Island.

Politicians may be interested to know that majorities of both Democrats and independents — the keys to any New York City campaign — support more bike lanes, as do union households.

“Despite months of misinformation and fake controversy, a growing majority of New Yorkers support these street safety improvements,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. “New Yorkers are savvy people.”

  • The MoE on this is +/- 2.8%. The MoE on the March poll was +/- 2.9%. So technically, yes, that five percent could be within the margin of error. But at worst, poll numbers didn’t budge by more than a couple tenths of a percentage point despite the barrage of negative media coverage. At best, they grew in the face of the negative media coverage. Either way, it’s a win-win for supporters of bike lanes.

  • The MoE on this is +/- 2.8%. The MoE on the March poll was +/- 2.9%. So technically, yes, that five percent could be within the margin of error. But at worst, poll numbers didn’t budge by more than a couple tenths of a percentage point despite the barrage of negative media coverage. At best, they grew in the face of the negative media coverage. Either way, it’s a win-win for supporters of bike lanes.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “In fact, if a national poll were to have as statistically significant a sample as this Q-Poll, it would have to poll almost 50,000 people.”

    Not exactly.  As I recall, for a national poll to have the same statistical significance as the Q-poll of NYC, it would need to have the same sample size as the Q-poll of NYC, and no more.

    The standard error varies with the size of the sample and the variability of the population it is meant to estimate, not with the size of the population it is meant to estimate.

    At 1,234 people, that’s a pretty good sample size if it is random and not stratified.  The problem is the quality of data for sub-groups, for which the sample is smaller.  And if the data is stratified to come up with a higher sample size for sub-groups, then the sample size for the total is weakened.

    But, alluded, sample size is not the issue here.  It is bias in who can be contacted, and who is willing to answer the questions.

  • Take that up with the pollsters, then, not Streetsblog. Quinnipiac’s own release states the results as reflective of “New York City voters” – not “respondents of this poll.” They even use terms like “most” and “by a 2-1 margin” when reporting their findings.

    If someone says, “59 percent of New York City voters say bike lanes are good” (verbatim from the pollsters), most would argue that is a majority. A majority might argue that, in fact.

  • Anonymous

    Eric, if the trends were in the opposite direction – a loss of support for bike lanes by three to five percentage points every month – I wonder how many bike lane opponents would claim that the numbers were “useless.”

    Also, if taken with the last two polls before this one, we’ve seen almost a ten-point gain in support for bike lanes in six months.  And that’s with a relentless backlash fueled by the Steve Cuozzos and Norm Steisels of the world.  If bike lanes were able to gain approval, even by a little, in the face of such overwhelmingly negative headlines, imagine how much more popular they’d be if the tabloids stopped their irrational, illogical, fear-based coverage?

  • carma

    Larry, Chris,

    These are intelligent rebuttals.
    Thank you.

  • True, Larry. Sorry – “statistical significance” wasn’t the right term there. carma was arguing that the sample size was too small, which simply isn’t true.

    And honestly, the reason the sample is so large is likely so they can get statistically significant data from the sub-groups.

    And by the way, Larry – re: young people in the sample – the Q-Poll does use both landlines and cell phones in reaching respondents. While that doesn’t address the issue of young people unwilling to offer their opinion, it’s a positive step.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Blue lines are nice.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Blue lines are nice.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Blue lines are nice.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Blue lines are nice.

  • m.

    I believe the margin of error figures in these polls are calculated by using formulas that assume the population is actually infinite. If the sample size is larger – greater than 5% of the population – adjustments actually need to be made to bring the margin down, as would make sense since as your sample size approaches 100%, the margin of error approaches 0.

  • Joe R.

    Good news here, especially in light of the constant media barrage against bikes in the last year.  And anecdotally, I think the bikelash has run out of steam.  The few comments I’ve gotten while riding this year were actually complimentary, not disparaging as they were toward the end of 2010.  On a 24 mile ride out to Long Island, a guy says I love your bike.  And another person in a car stops long enough to yell out the window-“damn, you’re fast” as I pass.  I was keeping pace with him through a few towns.  On the 73rd Avenue bike lane last week I was pacing one of those electric bikes with a delivery guy on it for about 10 blocks, about 18 mph up a mild incline.  Finally, I was starting to get a little winded, backed off a bit to about 16, and gave him a little room to pass.  As he goes by, he shouts “bueno, bueno, rapido!”  And I’ve gotten a couple of thumbs up as I ride by from random pedestrians.  Nothing negative so far this year.

    The truth is the majority NYers were always positive about bikes, but the media temporarily swung some of them the other way.  As is always the case though, the media can’t influence public opinion in the long term.  Eventually all those anti-bike stories will be seen as the sensationalisim they are.  I think the final nail in the coffin of the bike haters will be when the PPW gets dismissed.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And meanwhile, on a long motor vehicle tour of colleges with my daughter, it was amazing how much road rage I ran into or observed.  Some of it was directed at me, just for going merely a little over the speed limit instead of a lot, and slowing down to look when I didn’t know where I was, or letting someone cut in, or waiting for a pedestrian.  People honking, yelling, hitting the gas and whizzing around me. Nuts.

    Even in places where checkout lines and food service was so slow by NYC standards it was almost enough to get me worked up.

    I saw more hostility in a week in a car than I get in a year on bike.  Or for that matter than I usually get in a year in a car, given that I generally don’t drive on weekdays.

  • dporpentine

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus This is what I really don’t get about drivers huffing about bikes as The Enemy of All Good: drivers spend an incredible amount of time angry at each other. It amazes me how the mere sight of a bike washes away all those memories.

  • carma

    Larry, That is the main reason i refuse to drive to work on weekdays.  why the added stress?  its funny, cause i own 2 cars and i still hate driving to work.  my total mileage for two cars barely equals 4000 miles a year.  and those 4000 miles even  includes a road trip around the northeast region.

  • robert

    nyc bike lanes are not more popular than god. fact is that the data for bike lanes are all lies by city hall. the bike lanes cause traffic congestion and are only used less the 5 months. the reason king bloomberg wants bike lanes because he can get his traffic congestion fees another way to tax new yorkers

  • Andrew

    @d36a5b76f67a10e0cba9d6f65cb4c4b7:disqus Actually, it’s OTHER CARS that cause traffic congestion.  If you want to reduce traffic congestion, you need to find a way to get some of those other cars off the road.  Adding more lanes – even if there were room for them! – wouldn’t help, since they’d quickly fill up with more cars.  (Existing levels of traffic congestion are a major reason that driving has such a low modal share in NYC.)

    This poll had no connection to City Hall.  Despite a media war against bike lanes, fueled by a handful of people with political connections who are used to always getting their way, the public still likes them.

  • carma

    building more roads doesnt reduce congestion.  bottlenecks cause congestion. 

    Yes, some bike lanes do cause traffic.  most do not.some bike lanes are poorly implemented.  most are not.

  • Anonymous

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus If they are all breaking the law maybe we should stop building car lanes.

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus how much are you paying for insurance, gas, and other upkeep costs?  I bet you’re paying around a dollar a mile.  You might end up saving money just taking cabs, renting cars, and using car sharing services like zipcar.

  • Anonymous

    I use bike lanes 12 months out of the year

  • Anonymous

    Majority means over 50%. 59%>50% the margin between positive and negative is  24 points.  that’s quite significant.  It’s more than three times the margin of Obama and McCain in 2008.

    I live in Staten Island.  We account for 6% of he city’s population.  If this survey had a representative sample that means they should have talked with 70 Staten Islanders

  • slowdown

    bike lanes might be popular – but bicyclists aren’t. Why doesn’t city hall take a survey of pedestrians having to share the Pulaski bridge sidewalk with the nutters on 2 wheels there?
    If there wasn’t so much friction between pedestrians and bicyclists, then those trying to make biking the norm would get much less resistance.

  • carma

    i actually dont pay as much as you think.

    insurance for 2 autos are $1480 Full coverage for a 100/300 policy.
    i put on around 4000 miles for two vehicles.  my sienna gets avg 20 mpg .  fuel costs for me are around $500 / year.
    my bmw gets around 25 mpg.  fuel costs for that are around $400 / year.

    maintenance items usually include a simple oil change, fluids change.  i do these myself running around $200 / year.

    major issues come up (seldom) but lets say average around $150 / year / car.  $300 for 2 cars.  im a do it yourself guy.

    registration costs $350 / 2 years for 2 cars.  inspection costs $37 / year / car.
    total per year for these are $250.

    Total upkeep for 2 cars are $3130 / year.  less than $.80 / mile for 2 cars.  if i owned one car, i would still drive around 4000 miles / year, around $.50 /  mile for one car.

    btw:  i own both cars which are FULLY paid for.  i happen to be a big car guy.  do i need two cars?  NO.  i buy these out of disposable income, and not as a necessity but a luxury.  i happen to own multiple property which requires me to keep a big car as well for maintenance.

    a zip car wouldnt cut it for me.  1.  zip cars are not everywhere in the city.  2.  i actually enjoy my OWN car.  3.  zip cars dont come in manual transmissions.  4. it would actually cost me MORE.

  • Joe R.

    carma-your cars make sense if you think of them in terms of a hobby which also has practical benefits from time to time.  Lots of people I know spend over $3000 per year on hobbies, some of which have zero practical use, solely because they enjoy them.

    It’s interesting also to compare cycling costs versus driving costs.  Cycling, while cheap, isn’t totally free as we all know.  About 32 months ago I dropped around $500 rebuilding my Raleigh.  So far I’ve put 4,750 miles on it.  I’d say I’ll get at least 10,000 miles before I need to replace my tires.  I don’t know about the rest of the parts, but lets assume I need to replace those also.  So basically then, $500 per 10,000 miles, or $0.05 per mile.  Not bad.  I suspect it’s less than that.  It looks like I’ll get 10,000 miles from the rear tire, but perhaps as much as 20,000 miles from the front.  Since the tires are airless, I could technically ride them until they wear down to the rim, but I’m basing my numbers on wearing only 1/3 of the way down so as to preserve shock absorption.  Most of the drivetrain components, except the chain and rear cluster, will probably last well in excess of 10,000 miles.  When all is said and done, I think my operating costs might come in under 3 cents per mile.  I didn’t factor purchase price into anything because I received the bike free about 20 years ago.  In any case, purchase price can be amortized over a lifetime of riding, say 150,000 miles, if you buy a bike with a good frame.  Purchase price then is close to negligible for anything except a super high end bike, certainly no more than 1 or 2 cents per mile in nearly all cases.

  • carma

    Joe, Its more like 2 cars is a hobby.  Unfortunately in the remote areas of queens, a car is still sometimes a necessity.  While i try almost never to drive to work, and for local trips i almost always use a bicycle or my 2 legs.  i have to face it that even in NYC, there are lots of areas where a car is the only way to go.  for example, going from queens to brooklyn is at best an hour and a half in a lot of areas by public transportation.

    i said before, i like to drive, but i dont like a car to be the only way to get around.  i dont want to be driven by my car.

    Its funny you mention hobbies since my other hobby is also quite expensive.  Photography.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I ride my bike 12 months out of the year.  But in the winter the closest bike lane was intentionally blocked by those who want to stop me from doing so, so I had to do so elsewhere.

  • The Passenger Pigeon

    Be careful. God is watching.

  • Teejack

    Bike lanes are very dangerous on nyc busy streets. I say this because I almost hit a cyclist. He veered out of lane and came out right in front of me. I can understand bike lanes in the suburbs but not on high traffic streets. Im sure there will be a lot of fatalities with these rediculous bike lanes

  • Anonymous

    So no protected area at all for bicycles is the solution? This will somehow make cyclists safer, and life easier for drivers? The logic of this escapes me.


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