Press Releases

Press Release #08-47

DOT announces 35% increase in commuter cycling from 2007 to 2008 and calls on cyclists to use lights to be seen & safe

DOT giving away light this week; Calls on drivers to be more aware of fastest growing street user

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced findings showing that commuter bicycling in New York City has increased an unprecedented 35% between 2007-2008. Cycling levels in the City have doubled during the last six years. With increasing numbers of cyclists on the streets and Daylight Saving Time ending this weekend, DOT will also distribute over 1,500 bicycle lights over the next few days, to help keep New York's ever-growing legion of cyclists more visible. Drivers are reminded to be aware of cyclists and share the road safely with them.

"This unprecedented increase shows we are well on the way toward our goal of doubling the number of bike commuters," said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "As these numbers rise, cyclists should take all safety precautions, while drivers must be vigilant when sharing our streets with this growing population."

DOT first conducted screenline counts of cyclists in 1980 and has been doing so annually since 1984. Counts were historically taken once a year, during the middle of the week for a 12-hour period from 7 am to 7 pm In 2007, DOT expanded the time window to 18 hours and added two additional counting dates. The 18-hour count showed that over a quarter of cyclists counted use City streets earlier in the morning and later in the day than previously believed. While commuter cycling has doubled over the past six years, DOT has found that some facilities have gotten much more popular. The cyclist volume on the Williamsburg Bridge has quadrupled from 2000-2008 to 4,000 cyclists on a typical day.

DOT's NYC Commuter Cycling Indicator makes use of the most robust data available to estimate the trends in commuter cycling. While not every commuter cyclist in New York is counted in the screenline, the count locations are high usage areas where trends are easily spotted. The screenline count looks at cyclists crossing the four East River bridges, those entering and exiting the Staten Island Ferry's Whitehall terminal, as well as cyclists crossing 50th Street on each avenue and the Hudson River Greenway.

This growth in cycling follows two years of DOT efforts to rapidly expand and improve New York's bicycle network. DOT added 140 miles of new bicycle routes to the on-street bicycle network in 2007 and 2008.

DOT staff will be distributing 1,500 bike lights today on the Manhattan sides of both the Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges from 5:00 to 6:30 pm Cyclists are required under state traffic law to use white headlights and red taillights from dusk until dawn on all New York streets. Staying visible at night is critical to safe cycling as approximately 45% of bicycle fatalities in New York City occur in the dark.

To view the newly released data, please go to:

What: Department of Transportation distributes bike lights to commuter cyclists in advance of Daylight Savings Time and in recognition of the substantial 35% increase in commuter cycling in the past year.

Location: Manhattan side of the entry to the Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bridges.

Date and Time: Thursday, October 30th from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Visuals: Cyclists receiving free bike lights in preparation for Daylight Savings Time.