nyc cycling doubles on commissioner’s watch

The green line in the New York City Department of Transportation’s NYC Commuter Cycling Indicator (above) almost needs no caption. That’s because, more than specific numbers, it’s the trend in bicycle commuting in New York City that’s significant. And that trend is up. In fact, commuter cycling more than doubled from 2007 to 2011, according to the 2011 report by the NYC DOT last week.

The red arrow that’s been added, however, does require some explanation. Felix Salmon, who writes for Reuters, included this graphic in his Dec. 10 blog post to drive home the point that the increase in cycling coincides with the appointment of NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, whose vision is helping to transform the city streets into safer and more user-friendly places for cyclists and pedestrians.

From Salmon’s post:

“This is important because it shows just how effective strong leadership can be, when combined with a dedication to creating good infrastructure.”

I know I feel a debt of gratitude for that leadership every time I ride in the New York City bike lanes, which is pretty much every day. That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect or that the job is done. The design of some bike lanes, for example, could be improved. The city needs lots more lanes, and eventually they need to be interconnected into a network that more readily supports using bicycles safely and confidently, not only for commuting, but also for taking the kids to school, shopping and socializing. But the bike lanes are here. And before the time of the red arrow above, I, and many other New Yorkers who are represented in the up-trending green line wouldn’t have considered bicycling a viable form of everyday transportation.

Knowledge Base: To derive the Commuter Cycling Indicator, the DOT tallies bicycle commuter traffic in 6 key locations at 10 pre-determined times per year. You can read more about how the count is conducted and also download a pdf chart of the counts, by location and time of year, for 2000 – 2011 from the NYC DOT website.

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