During the worst of the pandemic in 2020, New York saw a 33 percent increase in cycling during weekdays, according to the latest Cycling In the City annual report put out by the Department of Transportation.
While the report only compares cycling data from May to December of 2019 to May to December in 2020, it captured the reality many New Yorkers know from on-the-ground experiences; there were bike shortages at local shops as new riders tried to hit the streets and a reluctance, as well as lack of necessity, to take mass transit during the worst of the pandemic.
The city tracked cyclists crossing DOT-owned bridges, the Manhattan, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Queensboro, and Pulaski bridges, as well as Prospect Park West and Kent Avenue bike lanes. The findings show there were 1.8 million more cyclists during the time period on weekdays, and 900,000 on weekends.
This comes as the city is seeing an increase in reckless driving as well.
Still, Hank Gutman, the transportation commissioner, said with more cyclists on the road this should translate into the roads getting safer as well.
“The fact that there are more cyclists on the road, plus the things we’ve done in terms of the architecture to try to make them safer, has, I don’t want to jinx this, it has had an effect,” Gutman said Thursday. “And we intend to keep going and make it better.”
So far this year, there have been 13 cyclists killed. That’s half the number of cyclists killed in all of 2020, which was a record high year, since de Blasio took office and launched Vision Zero.
The advocacy group Transportation Alternatives also points out that half of those bicyclists killed this year have been in the Bronx.
The goal of Vision Zero is to reduce all traffic-related deaths to zero by 2024, just three years away.
And a high number of those killed this year have been delivery workers. About 10 delivery workers on e-bikes, regular bikes, and scooters have been killed this year, according to the Workers Justice Project.
The DOT insisted it’s installing as many protected bike lanes as it can to make the roads safer for cyclists.
In 2020, it installed nearly 30 miles of protected bike lanes and 10.4 miles of so-called “dedicated cycling space in “Priority Bicycle Districts” or places with high numbers of cyclist fatalities, like the Bronx.
The city has installed 11 miles of protected bike lanes this year, and expects to put in 30 miles in total by the end of the year. The city also hopes to add 50 miles of painted bike lanes by the end of 2021, but couldn’t provide how many are completed at this point, noting work is underway at the moment.
The city expects the cycling numbers to continue to trend up.
While the city didn’t have statistics on the number of people who have used the newly installed Brooklyn Bridge bike lane, it noted bridge crossings on the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges have not gone down since it was installed. This leads city officials to believe that a large portion of riders are new and are riders who were not previously cycling across the bridge.
Gutman said the DOT’s next priority is to add a dedicated bike lane on the Queensboro Bridge.