NYC Bike Count Continues Upward Trend in 2010 With 13 Percent Growth

The DOT screenline count shows 2010 as the third consecutive year of rapid growth in cycling. Image: NYC DOT

Another year, another double-digit increase in the city’s cyclist count. DOT estimates that the number of cyclists riding into the center of the city jumped up 13 percent in 2010, continuing a three-year pattern of rapid growth [PDF].

In terms of absolute growth, 2010 marks the third-largest increase in the number of cyclists counted since DOT began counting in 1986. Only 2008 and 2009 showed larger gains, according to DOT, of 32 and 26 percent respectively. This year’s 13 percent jump is on top of that rapid growth. In total, the bike count is up 88 percent in the last three years.

“More people are riding their bikes, thanks to the new bike lanes now crisscrossing the city,” said Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White. “As the city continues to build out its biking network and add a bike-share system, we are certain that more New Yorkers will choose this affordable, healthy and non-polluting form of transportation.”

As always, remember that the screenline count has its pros and cons as a data set. DOT estimates the growth in cycling by counting bikes crossing 50th Street on the Hudson River Greenway, the four East River bridges, and on the Staten Island Ferry. That makes the screenline numbers the only annual data based on real, observed cycling, but the metric has been criticized for giving too much weight to the neighborhoods closest to those crossings and missing trends in the rest of the city.

Census data actually showed cycling decreasing citywide in 2008 and 2009, but the Census only measures people’s primary commuting mode, hiding those who only bike some of the time, or for non-commuting trips. To get a more complete picture, we’re anxiously awaiting the results of this year’s National Household Travel Survey, which, with a large sample and questions about both work and non-work trips, should help make things clear.