Times Poll: New Yorkers Really Love Bike Lanes, Bike-Share, and Plazas

Across boroughs, ages, races, and income levels, New Yorkers like bike lanes, bike-share, and plazas. Image: ##http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/18/nyregion/new-yorkers-views-on-bloomberg-poll.html?ref=nyregion##NYT##

This morning, the New York Times released a comprehensive poll on what New Yorkers think of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and programs from his administration. Bike-share, bike lanes, and plazas got high approval numbers across boroughs, ages, races, and income levels. Many of the mayoral candidates might be hesitant to acknowledge it, but New Yorkers love their livable streets.

Of course, this is not a groundbreaking revelation. In 2010, the Times said, “there have been no independent polls of New Yorkers’ attitudes on bicycle lanes.” Since then, Marist, Quinnipiac, and the Times itself have polled on bike lanes, adding questions about bike-share and pedestrian plazas. They’ve consistently found that New Yorkers support these programs:

  • July 2009: Two months after Broadway in Times Square went pedestrian-only, Quinnipiac says 58 percent of New Yorkers support it.
  • March 2011: Even with the press in bike backlash mode, 54 percent tell Quinnipiac that the city’s expansion of bike lanes is “a good thing.”
  • July 2011: Quinnipiac asks the same question again; support jumps to 59 percent.
  • August 2011: 66 percent of New Yorkers support bike lanes, according to Marist.
  • October 2011: Quinnipiac finds 58 percent support bike lanes, and 72 percent approve of bike-share.
  • August 2012: Support for bike-share in the Q poll jumps to 74 percent.

Immediately after its launch, when public support was expected to be weakest and the city press corps had a full-on freakout, Quinnipiac found that half of New Yorkers supported bike-share, with only 20 percent opposed. In today’s poll, those numbers have gone back to their pre-launch highs, with 73 percent in support.

Before today, the most recent numbers on bike lanes were from an August 2012 Times poll, in which 66 percent of New Yorkers said bike lanes were a good idea, and 30 percent said they were likely to use bike-share. The poll also found that the city’s household bike ownership rate is higher than its car ownership rate.

The best part of today’s poll, though, is the crosstabs: across boroughs, ages, races, and income levels, New Yorkers support bike lanes, bike-share, and plazas.

Support for bike lanes is highest among residents of Brooklyn and the Bronx. Sixty-four percent of the city’s white population supports bike lanes, as does 63 percent of the black population and 71 percent of Hispanics. Support drops with age: 75 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds support bike lanes, while 48 percent of those 65 years and older approve. It should be noted, though, that only 40 percent of seniors disapprove of bike lanes.

Support for bike lanes. Image: ##http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/18/nyregion/new-yorkers-views-on-bloomberg-poll.html?ref=nyregion##NYT##

Bike-share is most popular in Brooklyn and Manhattan, which currently have the service, but 70 percent of Bronx residents and 68 percent of Queens residents also support the program. Bike-share is supported by all age groups, with support highest among 30-44 year-olds, at 80 percent.

Support for bike-share. Image: ##http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/18/nyregion/new-yorkers-views-on-bloomberg-poll.html?ref=nyregion##NYT##

Pedestrian plazas poll above 70 percent in all boroughs, peaking at 77 percent in the borough with the most crowded sidewalks, Manhattan. Support for plazas is 74 percent among white and Hispanic populations, and 69 percent for black respondents. Support for all three programs — bike lanes, bike-share, and plazas — is higher among men than women.

Support for pedestrian plazas. Image: ##http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/18/nyregion/new-yorkers-views-on-bloomberg-poll.html?ref=nyregion##NYT##

The poll of 1,029 New Yorkers was conducted from August 2 to 7. Its margin of error is 3 percentage points, and higher for subgroups, ranging from 4 to 7 points. The poll did not break out numbers for Staten Island due to insufficient sampling.

  • Kevin Love

    Interesting that the only group that does not have majority approval of cycle lanes is the “65+ years old.”

    It is my belief that this is due to the poor design of so many of New York’s unprotected cycle lanes. Elderly people are afraid to use those lanes, and I do not blame them.

    Compare this with properly designed cycle infra which is regularly used by elderly people. For example, see:


  • Joe R.

    I think these numbers should put to rest those who say the next administration is going to rip out bike infrastructure. It’s all the more encouraging because of the nearly 80% approval rates among the younger demographic-which is the very group which will assume the reins of power in the next two decades. There’s even majority support among the over 65 group despite this group coming of age in the autocentric 1950s and 1960s.

  • Clarke

    Ratios seem pretty close to that of car ownership numbers in the city, no?

  • Clarke

    Ratios seem pretty close to that of car ownership numbers in the city, no?

  • Reader

    I think it has more to do with a fear of change. Even support for ped plazas, while high across all demos, is lower among seniors. Yet I doubt too many elderly people are afraid to sit at a table in Times Square.

  • It’ll be wonderfully sad to see the mainstream press ignore this survey starting in 3, 2, 1 minutes…..

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    Can you please provide the Staten Island data, even if it shows a negative opinion. Better to know than to speculate.

  • Joe R.

    One minor complaint about the polling-why weren’t the numbers for Asians included in the racial breakdowns? Asians are the fastest growing group in the US, and I think in NYC also. They also comprise greater than 40% of some parts of the city, such as Flushing.

  • Ian Turner

    You forgot that the polling was of NYC residents, not of the people who matter.

  • What is with the breakdown by religion? Two variations of Christians, Jews all lumped together (and I can guess which neighborhood in particular is against), and no Muslims, Hindus, Atheist categories? Just not enough data or afraid of something else?

  • Reader

    But it was in the Times!

  • Anonymous

    You have to keep in mind many seniors came from a generation where your kids playfully rode bikes on the sidewalk and owning a car was a symbol that you made it in life. To them a bike will never be a serious way to get around the city. Also some in that demographic aren’t healthy enough to cycle.

  • Anonymous

    They do! I wish they asked the people who were opposed to bike lanes and bike share if their primary mode of transportation is a car.

  • Joe R.

    Besides not being healthy enough to cycle, some just can’t, as in never learned how to ride a bike, like my mom. I’ve offered to teach her, but I think her mind tells her she can’t balance on two wheels, so it just won’t work. And at 74, a fall would have much worse consequences for her than for me.

  • Anonymous

    Agnostics and Atheists are the most ignored and discriminated against minorities in America. Why should us godless moral-less heathens get a say? Or have our say counted? Nope we’re just others.

  • Anonymous

    She is probably well aware of how dangerous a fall would be for her.

  • carma

    As a person of asian descent. I always wondered why in the 21st century in one of the most diverse cities on earth must we only classify black and white and the occassional hispanic

    What i do find not surprising is that regardless of income race or locale that around 70% support the positive changes we see. Maybe its bc we forgot staten island in this poll

  • Larry Littlefield

    Sample size. If you don’t capture enough of them in your sample, it isn’t a real number.

  • Danger

    1) Why is Staten Island not included?

    2) Why are Asians or Indians not includeD?

  • Larry Littlefield

    No excuse. So this isn’t for you. Is that a reason to deny it to others?

    But it looks like the non-greedy component of that generation is making some headway. At least in New York City, if the elected officials in the state legislature are excluded.

  • Anonymous

    Yes cause a number of people who have firmly held belief shouldn’t be counted or acknowledged.

  • Sunny

    Note a critical statistic: 56% of this poll’s respondents were Democrats, 24% were Independents. Only 8% Republicans.

  • Eric McClure

    That may track with population in NYC. Not the reddest place around, y’know.

  • carma

    As i republican, i support all 3… Um more of a RINO than a true right winger

  • Anonymous

    I’ve seen Chassids on bike share several times in Brooklyn, so I wouldn’t make assumptions.

  • They got bike lanes removed in their neighborhood… I think the issue was specifically with the Chabad. Back in 2009 they got them removed because women were riding bikes in their neighborhood and were ‘distracting’.

  • Guest

    I found the actual poll data elsewhere on the NYT site… and guess who was the second largest group… None… 24%.

  • Replying to myself… found the actual poll data under umm… “poll” up above at the very top of the story. The religious category of “None” outnumbered everyone with the exception of the Catholics with 25% of the respondents.

  • Anonymous

    At this point the Republican Party has almost certainly left you. Because of course you are now part of the UN’s agenda 21 plan to take over the world.

  • Joe R.

    The Republican party lost me when the religious right and the Tea Party took over. Nowadays the inmates are running the asylum.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll skip the race-bait discussion and dwell on something else: stated preferences about morally-neutral (at least for most people) public programs are not that meaningful.

    I bet if one is to poll citizens of New York about the following issues, approval would be quite high: state-of-the-art schools, clean and safe city parks, renovated and barrier-free subway stations, storm-protected waterfront etc.

    All these policies wouldn’t entail much of a principle-based opposition (the “charter only” crowd is small, so are those who like more grit and crime to scare hipsters). However, we need to know what these same people think when faced with concrete choices about how to pay for any of these otherwise widely supported goals.

    What would happen if one were to ask “do you support 250 more miles of protected bike lanes in NYC, which would be taken by dropping street parking by half on 250 miles of city streets?”. Or “do you support 250 new miles of bike lanes, which will be paid by a 0,1% additional income tax to be charged next 3 years”?

    This is the same discussion surrounding transit: only a handful of wackos, ultra-nostalgic or plain weird people wouldn’t support better MTA service, but not many would be willing to pay for it with bonds raised against a $ 0.50 fare / $30-monthly metrocard add-on increase.

  • Anonymous

    With bike lanes, though, that’s a false choice. JSK’s DOT has seen a huge net *gain* in parking spots. And even the most “controversial” things that get called bike lane projects (like Prospect Park West, which was a traffic calming project with a comparatively small bike lane spur) only cost people a handful of spots–nothing like half. They’re also incredibly cheap (again, nothing like .1% of the income taxes paid by city residents).

    I think that, as much as media folks have tried to claim otherwise, people here mostly know that bike lanes aren’t expensive and do very little, if anything, to disturb the great god Parking. And I think that’s reflected in their answers.

  • Kevin Love

    That fear goes away if one can demonstrate that the change is for the better. Hypothesis: if one were to take this same sample of elderly people and take them to the Netherlands so that they could see elderly people using proper infra, then they would support it.

  • Anonymous

    Get her a tricycle.
    My mother’s been riding hers into her 90’s. Uses it for shopping trips as well as exercise.

  • Satmars, actually. The main stated issue was parking, and parking enforcement on the Sabbath.

    There was one mention of immodestly-dressed cyclists, so naturally the tabloid press jumped all over it. They can’t resist an alliterative headline like “Hasids vs. Hotties.” (They had already done “Hasids vs. Hipsters,” despite the fact that hipsters live north of the bridge and it’s mostly non-hipsters like myself who bike southwards.)


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