Are NYC Streets Safe Enough For Its Biking Boom?

A new report by the New York Post describes a “boom” in bicycle ridership in New York City, with weekend riding up 57% compared to 2019. The city’s Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told city councilors in a Wednesday meeting that the city is “seeing a cycling boom,” with weekday ridership up as well, by 26%.

These figures were tabulated by automated bicycle counting devices in seven locations: “Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West and Kent Avenue protected bike lanes and five bridges: the Pulaski, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro.” One of those locations enjoyed especially an especially high increase in ridership, with the Pulaski Bridge—which connects Greenpoint in Brooklyn and Long Island City in Queens—marking more than 78% in increased weekend bike rides. The next highest increases were seen at Prospect Park West, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, and the Queensboro Bridge, which all recorded increases of more than 50%. The Kent Avenue Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge, meanwhile, recorded increases of around 25%.

With the increase in bicycle ridership comes a renewed focus on bicycle safety, especially in the wake of incident like the death of a cyclist in Brooklyn after she was struck by a bus. Sarah Pitts, an assistant district attorney in the borough, was killed by a charter bus in Williamsburg. Last week, the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives began a campaign “for expanded bike paths on the four East River bridges, which experienced higher weekday bike traffic last month than at any other point in the last three years,” per the post.

The group is lobbying for city authorities to create additional protected bicycle lanes and bicycle parking to keep up with the spikes in ridership. The group’s deputy director told the Post “In order to capture this moment, and to accommodate the clear desire from New Yorkers to bike more, we need to direct as many trips as possible away from cars towards sustainable transportation solutions… People who bike or wish to bike fear for their safety… This is a moment the city has to seize.”

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