That’s how one construction worker-turned-bike messenger described the state of NYC to the New York Times. Bikers take more than 450,000 trips per day, more than double what the number was a decade ago. Just last week, Citi Bike recorded the highest single-day ridership of any system in the Western world except for Paris.
With the failing subway system and New York’s ever-increasing population, more and more people are hopping on two wheels. And with 1,133 miles of bike lanes (more than 600 more miles compared to 2006), cyclist deaths have dropped by 71%.
But not everyone is happy.
The increase in biking has triggered a “bikelash”. Some, including Woody Allen, complain that Mayor Bill de Blasio, like Mike Bloomberg before him, is doing too much to encourage cycling by building new bike lanes. The arguments focus on the lost parking and room for cars. There are a number of pedestrians who’ve also expressed anger at bikers’ disregard for safety. However, experts and advocates say that the overwhelming cause of pedestrian injuries and deaths are car crashes. Under de Blasio’s Vision Zero program to make the streets safer (with the goal of zero fatalities), New York City has made progress but there’s still a ways to go.
That opposition doesn’t seem to have deterred them. On Monday, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that New York City would continue adding more bike lanes, with 50 more miles planned for this year.
More wanted: what’s Citi Bike going to do?
Citi Bike is also proposing a big expansion to all five boroughs. Motivate, the company running the program, is already building new stations in Brooklyn and Queens and adding 2,000 new bikes, bringing the system 12,000. In exchange for adding bikes in parts of the Bronx and Queens, Citi Bike stations would add a second ad panel and be allowed more flexible pricing options. Jay Walder, the CEO of Motivate and a former MTA chairman, also wants New York City to keep out so-called dockless bike share systems.
Dockless bike share? What’s that?
Citi Bike operates with stations where riders can get bikes; the bikes also need to be returned to a station. By contrast, dockless bikes can be parked anywhere and are unlocked with a smartphone.
These systems are common in China and are just starting to arrive in Europe, though they’ve run into problems with bikes being stolen or just left in the middle of the street. One Chinese company went bust after 90% of their bikes were lost or stolen. However, larger rivals have equipped bikes with GPS to track them. While one new entrant, Social Bikes, wants to introduce the bikes into NYC, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Especially with the recent subway issues, look for biking to keep becoming more popular.