Press Releases

Press Release #09-049

NYC DOT Announces 26 Percent Increase In Commuter Cycling And Calls On Cyclists To Use Lights To Be Seen And Safe

New counts show a dramatic increase in New Yorkers biking to work, reinforcing a growing need for motorists and cyclists to be aware of each other

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced that commuter bicycling in New York City has increased by a dramatic 26% in the last year, building on last year’s unprecedented growth and representing a more than doubling in bike commuting in just the last seven years. The increase comes alongside the expansion of the City’s bike network, with the number of bike lanes nearly doubled the last three years. To help increase the visibility of the growing number of cyclists, DOT staff will distribute bicycle lights at two East River bridge commuter bicycle paths during tonight’s evening rush hour as part of its annual Daylight Saving Time giveaway, reminding cyclists to ride safely and lawfully by using headlights and taillights at night, and particularly during the dark evening commute.

"Cycling in the City continues growing rapidly as our bike network expands and becomes safer," said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "With more cyclists using roads alongside motorists, both need to take safety measures and look out for each other when sharing our streets."

DOT first conducted screenline counts of cyclists in 1980 and has been doing so annually since 1984. This year DOT conducted monthly 12-hour counts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April to October 2009 and compared them to data from the same period in 2008, yielding an increase of 26%. The DOT uses these counts to create the NYC Commuter Cycling Indicator, which makes use of the most robust data available to estimate trends in commuter cycling. While not every commuter cyclist in New York is counted in the screenline, the count locations are highly used 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. In July 2009, DOT completed the last of 200 new miles of bicycle routes to the on-street bicycle network over a three-year period. DOT continues to build the on street network, at a rate approximately of 50 miles a year. There are currently more than 425 miles of on-street bike lanes citywide.

Forty-five percent of bicycle fatalities in New York City occur after dark, so staying visible at night is critical to cyclist safety. In fact, the use of lights by cyclists is required by New York State traffic law. All riders must use white headlights and red or amber taillights from dusk until dawn when riding on streets Citywide. To help the growing legion of New York City cyclists, DOT staff will distribute more than 900 bike light sets on the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge from 5-6:30 p.m.

To view the newly released data, visit

What: NYC DOT distributes bike lights to commuter cyclists in recognition of Daylight Saving Time and the continued growth of commuter cycling.

Location: Manhattan side of the entry to the Williamsburg Bridge and the Queens side exit of the Queensboro Bridge.

Date and Time: Monday, Nov. 9 from 5-6:30 p.m.

Visuals: Cyclists receiving free bike lights, as sun sets due to Daylight Saving Time.