a bike lane in 1980. mayor edward i. koch installed the city’s first modern protected bike lanes in midtown manhattan that year, but they were ripped out soon after. photo: elizabeth richter/associated press
“New York City developed the first bike path in the country in 1894 on Ocean Parkway, in Brooklyn. And in 1980, Mayor Edward I. Koch installed the city’s first modern protected bike lanes in Midtown Manhattan, only to rip them out shortly afterward because they failed to get a warm reception. In 1987 he moved to bar bicyclists on sections of Park, Madison and Fifth Avenues during weekday business hours amid concerns over reckless riding by bike messengers.
Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group, recalled that cyclists were often treated as second-class citizens and had to fight for what little space they could claim on the streets.
“In the not-so-distant past, you did have to be a little insane to ride your bike,” he said. “You were called a zealot, an iconoclast or an early adopter.”
…On Hoyt Street, the bicycle crowd squeezes into a one-way bike lane that is nearly as wide as the car lane beside it. On a recent evening, 442 bikes — compared with 331 cars — passed by in one hour, more than three times the 141 bikes counted in the same hour in 2011, according to city data. Two years ago, cars still dominated.
Jennifer Golum, 27, of Brooklyn, said she had started biking to work this spring because of subway delays and also to save money and to get some exercise. She uses Hoyt Street, she said, because she feels safer riding with other cyclists.
riding on the west side highway. photo: justin gilliland/nytimes
“Biking has become part of New York’s commuting infrastructure as bike routes have been expanded and a fleet of 10,000 Citi Bikes has been deployed to more than 600 locations. Today there are more than 450,000 daily bike trips in the city, up from 170,000 in 2005, an increase that has outpaced population and employment growth, according to city officials. About one in five bike trips is by a commuter.
Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, said that while her agency (NYCDOT) was sensitive to such concerns (bikelash) and had tried to minimize disruptions, expanding the biking infrastructure was vital to keeping pace with the soaring population. “We can’t continue to accommodate a lot of the growth with cars,” she said. “We need to turn to the most efficient modes, that is, transit, cycling and walking. Our street capacity is fixed.””