Washington DC and New York City have sprung to the forefront of a recent Census Statistics release. Each city has improved bicycle infrastructure and shown swiftly rising numbers of bicyclists. The cities have enhanced some networks of modern protected bike lanes, and bicyclists are using them as quickly as they appear. Census figures published recently show a doubled rate of bike commuting between 2009 and 2013.
Washington has a collection of protected lanes and painted lanes, and the expanding bicycle culture swiftly fills the lanes and paths with each addition and improvement.
People for Bikes notes: “Washington DC vaulted to 4.5 percent of commutes by bicycle in 2013, up from 2.2 percent in 2009. Among major U.S. cities, that estimate would place DC second only to Portland, Oregon as a bike commuting hub.”
“DC has been coming up strong for several years,” said Darren Flusche, policy director for the DC-based League of American Bicyclists, in an interview. “It’s the nation’s capital; I keep waiting for someone to say they’re the nation’s bike capital.”
Washington is the leader. However, New York City, with 1.2%, is up from 0.6% in 2009. The actual number is 46,000 daily bike commuters, about as many as Portland and DC combined. New York added an estimated 10,000 bike commuters in 2013 alone, its fifth straight year of growth. Those 10,000 net new bike commuters in New York accounted for essentially the entire nationwide increase in bike commuting in 2013.
People for Bikes continues: “Flusche credited the Michael Bloomberg administration, led by former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, for rapidly dedicating miles of space on New York streets for painted or protected bike lanes. The 2013 figure reflects the effects of the first six months of Citi Bike, the wildly popular bike share system launched last year in Manhattan.”
“I think we’re finally seeing the benefits of those decisions made as far back as ’09, ’10, ’11,” Flusche said.
DC also benefits from a strong and growing bikeshare program, but it was launched earlier and not on the same scale as Citi Bike.
The Census numbers of bicycle commutes show nearly twice as many men as women biking. However, women outnumber men as pedestrians by a narrow margin. It seems women walk more.
In New York, bicyclists became part of rescue services getting into places that cars were not able to during the crisis of Sandy. In the midst of the disaster recovery, one found many faces on bikes, sharing bikes, and bringing in food on cargo bikes.
“DC’s Capital Bikeshare is a Red Hot Success Story in One Year“ shares a similar story: “The Washington Post reported that after last week’s earthquake, ridership tripled between 2pm and 4pm, compared to the previous day! When traffic snarls were reported all through DC, bikers did not have too many complaints! CaBi has become another means of getting around for DC workers and residents, that is environmentally friendly and carbon friendly!
Image Credit: People for Bikes