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Reference > Transportation Planning > Bicycle Network Development Printer Friendly Version
Bicycle Network Development

<< Return to Bicycle and Greenway Planning

The goal of the Department of City Planning, New York City Department of Transportation, and the Department of Parks and Recreation Bicycle Network Development program is to reduce congestion by promoting cycling in New York City. The central objectives of the program are to implement and maintain New York City's on- and off-street bicycle network; improve cycling safety; improve bicycle access on bridges and mass transit; and institutionalize cycling in public and private organizations.

The program continues to implement a city-wide network of bicycle lanes and paths that would result in an increase in bicycling in all five boroughs. This program also involves the collection of annual bicycle ridership data and taking part in the “NYC Bike Month” events which takes place in the month of May.

Program Objectives:
  • Encourage increased use of bicycles as a viable mode of transportation by providing expanded facilities for bicyclists.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan for improving bicycle facilities throughout New York City.
  • Implement an all-agency bicycle policy for New York City aimed at institutionalizing the planning, design and implementation of bicycle facilities.
  • Implement facility improvements, as funding allows. Include bicycle facilities in capital and expense budget projects of other government agencies.
  • Coordinate with the plans and programs of advocacy groups and city & state agencies.

Program Participants:
Since 1994, the year of its inception, the Bicycle Network Development Program has been a joint project between the Departments of City Planning (DCP) and Transportation (DOT). Through the team effort and the helpful input of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and volunteers, a 900-mile bicycle network of on- and off-street routes was identified and planned.

In 1996, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) joined the BND Program. The goal of this federally-funded project is to promote cycling and to increase public awareness of existing and planned bicycle paths and bicycle-related projects.

Program Funding:
The BND project is financed through the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program. This federal program provides funding for the planning, design, and development of bikeways as a means of:
  • Improving air quality,
  • Reducing congestion on existing roadways,
  • Helping to provide for lower overall transportation costs.

Program Products:
I. New York City Cycling Map:

One major product of the BND program is the New York City Cycling Map, which shows existing bicycle lanes, existing and planned greenways, as well as a network of bicycle-friendly streets. The proposed routes are the result of extensive fieldwork, involving the analysis of traffic conditions and the assessment of the connectivity and accessibility of the routes. A major goal of the New York City Cycling Map is to show its users how to get from point A to point B quickly and safely. Further features of the map are informational panels on how to ride safely through traffic, i.e. how to share the road, how to access mass transit, and how to access recreational areas throughout the city.

With the latest release of the 2012 Cycling Map we have printed and distributed over 2,775,000 maps since the first edition in 1997.

II. New York City Bicycle Master Plan:

One other significant product of the BND program is the New York City Bicycle Master Plan which:

  • Identifies a 900-mile, bicycle network to guide the implementation of on-street bicycle lanes and off-street paths;
  • Promotes bridge and mass transit access and recommends improvements;
  • Reports on funded Greenway projects and outlines future projects;
  • Proposes a Comprehensive Bicycle Program to encourage cycling in the areas of engineering, enforcement, and education;
  • Provides guidelines on the design of bicycle lanes, paths, and signage.

Benefits of Bicycling:
The bicycle is one of the most environmentally-efficient modes of transportation. By using a renewable energy source, the human body, the bicycle, in contrast to the automobile, is non-polluting. The bicycle also uses much less space than the automobile, and is considerably quieter than other modes of transportation. These benefits are especially attractive in New York City, as we struggle with noise and congestion issues, and are attempting to meet the federal mandates of the 1990 Clean Air Act.

The bicycle also has tremendous health benefits. Cycling is ranked among the top three exercises for improving cardiovascular fitness. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the most effective activity regimens are moderate in intensity, individualized and incorporated into daily activity. Cycling to work, school or shopping as part of ones regular daily routine can be both a sustainable and time-efficient exercise regimen for maintaining acceptable levels of fitness. Studies have shown that bicycle commuters work more efficiently, arriving to work eager and alert and, due to a cyclists improved health, have fewer job-related injuries. Cycling can also generate a sense of liberation and pride. Traveling by bicycle, the rider becomes a part of the environment rather than isolated from it, getting to know different neighborhoods in the city and finding attractions that could be missed in an automobile, bus or subway.

Finally, the bicycle is economically efficient. According to estimates by Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group, bicycle riding costs the frequent cyclist only one-quarter as much as driving, assuming cyclists must replace their bicycles every three years due to bicycle theft and bad pavement. Transportation Alternatives estimates that the annual savings would average $1,100 per motorist.

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