Cycling in the City

Bicyclists riding in the bike lane on tree lined street.

NYC DOT is pleased to announce the release of Cycling in the City, an update on cycling trends in New York City. This brief examines data from the New York City Community Health Survey and national surveys, on-going bike counts, and Citi Bike to assess how frequently New Yorkers are using cycling as a mode of transportation and how that frequency is changing over time.

Approximately eight hundred thousand (773,000) New Yorkers ride a bike regularly. It is estimated that over 530,000 cycling trips are made each day in New York City—more than triple the amount taken 15 years ago.

As part of the Green Wave, NYC DOT installed 29.5 lane miles of protected bicycle lanes in 2020. NYC DOT also installed 10.4 lane miles of dedicated cycling space in Priority Bicycle Districts—neighborhoods with comparatively high numbers of cyclist fatalities and severe injuries and few dedicated cycling facilities.

With the expansion of the bicycle network on city streets, miles of new greenway paths in public parks, the expansion of bike share, and the introduction of the Commercial Cargo Bike Pilot program, there have never been more people biking in New York City. In recent years, as a result of this new infrastructure, the city has experienced a sea change in the way that people ride bikes: new bike lanes and greenways encourage New Yorkers to use bikes to get around their own neighborhoods and for recreation; protected lanes and Citi Bike make cycling a more comfortable and convenient transportation option.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which affected much of the world in 2020 and continues into 2021, also disrupted transportation routines. While many modes of transportation used by New Yorkers showed declines, cycling—driven in part by weekend ridership—increased during the pandemic. Citi Bike usage also increased, with record-setting amounts of trips on the weekends as well as across the East River Bridges.

Historically, evaluation of cyclist activity in New York City has centered on counting the number of bicycles entering and exiting the Manhattan core, but this approach did not account for the wide variety of trips that increasingly occur around the city. In an effort to better understand the widening breadth of cycling, NYC DOT partnered with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to include questions about cycling in its annual Community Health Survey. The introduction of a Citywide Mobility Survey provides another important data source to better understand the transportation choices of New Yorkers.

By focusing on the cyclist and not the trip, these surveys provide a more holistic approach to quantifying cycling activity, especially when used in combination with long-term census data on bike commuting, on-going bike counts on the East River Bridges and in Midtown, and data from Citi Bike. Taken as a whole, this information helps paint a more accurate picture of cycling in New York City than we have ever had before.

Cycling in the City—A Snapshot

  • Nearly eight hundred thousand New Yorkers (773,000) ride a bicycle regularly (at least several times a month)
  • 26% of adult New Yorkers, approximately 1.6 million people, ride a bike (at least once in the past year)
  • 1,375 lane miles of bike lanes installed in New York City as of 2020
  • 546 lane miles of protected bike lanes installed in New York City as of 2020
  • On a typical day, there are over 530,000 cycling trips made in New York City

Cycling in the City—Trends Over Time

  • Daily Cycling
    • 116% growth in daily cycling, 2009-2019
    • 26% growth in daily cycling, 2014-2019
    • 4.7% average annual growth rate of daily cycling, 2014-2019
  • Peer Cities
    • Cycling to work has grown more than five times as fast in NYC as in other major cities (26% growth in NYC compared to 5% growth in peer cities)
  • Commuters by Sex
    • 10% average annual growth rate of female commuter cycling, 2009-2019
    • 28% of all Citi Bike subscriber trips (5.5 million) were made by females in 2020
  • East River Bridges
    • 2.4% average annual growth rate of cycling on the East River Bridges, 2010-2020
    • 21% growth in total cycling trips on all East River Bridges, 2019-2020
  • Midtown
    • 6.5% average annual growth rate of cycling at 50th Street, 2010-2020
  • Citi Bike
    • 95% of pre-COVID ridership in 2020
    • 19.5 million Citi Bike trips in 2020

Past Cycling in the City Reports

Cycling in the City - 2020 Cycling in the City - 2019 Cycling in the City - 2018 Cycling in the City - January 2017 Cycling in the City - May 2016 Cycling in the City - March 2013