NYC Bike Commuting on the Rise

According to new data from NYCDOT, the number of bike commuters in New York City has increased by 26% over last year. Given that the increase from 2007 to 2008 was 35%, this is an astonishing number. According to Streetsblog, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan credits New York’s expanding bike infrastructure for the increase:

The new counts bolster the evidence linking safer bikeways to increased cycling. New York’s bike network expanded significantly in the past 12 months, including protected paths on Broadway, Eighth Avenue, the Sands Street approach to the Manhattan Bridge, Allen Street, and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg.

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan touted these improvements in announcing the new stats. “Cycling in the city continues growing rapidly as our bike network expands and becomes safer,” she said in a statement.

Read the full article at Streetsblog
Access the source data [PDF] →

2 Responses to “NYC Bike Commuting on the Rise”

  • Bob says:

    I hate to be a party-pooper, but I’d like to point out the notes from the graph you posted:

    “1. Value for Indicator comes from weekday 12 hour (7am-7pm) counts at 6 key NYC locations
    2. From 1985 until 2006, this count was taken only once per year. Due to volatility the “Value for Indicator” in this period is the three year rolling average of
    the current year’s count and the count of the prior and subsequent years
    3. The value for 2007 is the average of 3 counts taken in 2007 (in May, August & September)
    4. The value for 2008 and 2009 is the average of 10 counts taken between April and October”
    (Copy-pasted from page 1 of the PDF)

    From these notes, it seems that their methodology changed dramatically from 2006 to 2007, the most important change being likely the move from one count per year to 7+ counts per year. It could be that the increase in cycling is overstated because the one-count-per year method was getting inaccurate results– in other words, it could be that New York’s always had lots of cyclists but the old study format wasn’t getting good enough data. It’s notable that while the graph’s been increasing since 2000 or so, the really noticeable marked increase in the graph occurs right when they change methodologies.

    Also notice that the earlier years (up to 2006, again) are graphed as three-year rolling averages, making them look less volatile and more reliable than they probably are. This also contributes to the impression from the graph as a whole that 2007-9 are radically different years from years previous. Equally important, while this may seem self-evident, is that years 2007-9 are not plotted as rolling averages. If they were, they might not appear as dramatic.

    This isn’t to poo-poo the growth of cycling in NYC, which, from my personal and subjective experience, is definitely happening. Nor is it an attack on the NYCDOT, which is a great organization and which puts good resources into important research like this. But, that graph (and some of the other data in the report) definitely has the potential to be misleading, and the just-recently-bike-oriented DOT, which is being pressured from some directions to defend its bike infrastructure projects, does have a vested interest in demonstrating a link between infrastructure and ridership.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks, Bob.

    Even if the older numbers are less than precise, the 26% increase from 2008 to 2009 looks accurate and is highly encouraging. And regardless of how you slice the numbers, anecdotally everyone seems to agree very good things are happening for bicyclists in New York.


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