Keeping a car in the city – and using it regularly – is too expensive for the vast majority of New Yorkers, who depend on alternatives such as public transportation, ride sharing, or taxis to get from place to place.
Increasingly, city residents are using bicycles as an alternative to other types of public transportation. According to the Department of Health1, over 800,000 New Yorkers regularly ride a bike – which represents a 70% increase in daily cycling over five years.
Related Reading: Biking in NYC: How to Keep Your Bike Safe
Taxis are expensive, subways are crowded, and other types of service can be limited or unreliable. Biking, however, offers significant benefits to the city – reduced CO2 emissions, and air and noise pollution. Benefits extend to the rider as well – cycling improves cardiovascular health, is comparatively inexpensive, and allows the rider to explore the city at their liberty.
After all, it’s all about the journey, right?
However, as an urban bicyclist surrounded by other motorists, taxis, and buses, it is essential to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your fellow riders.
How to Make Biking in NYC Safer
1. Become a Frequent Rider.
As more cyclists take to the roads, the community will have more influence, which will help add additional bike lanes and improve road safety. If you are considering becoming an urban bike rider on an occasional or regular basis, you may need a push in the right direction to make the change. Check out the health benefits of bicycling, how bikes help with environmental and traffic congestion in cities worldwide, and information on protected bike lanes over at Streetfilms.
Streetfilms is an organization that creates short films promoting people-friendly transportation alternatives, such as bicycling, helping to establish bike lanes and car-free events throughout the U.S. and Latin America.
2. Learn How to Ride.
Whether you are an experienced bike rider, a complete newbie, or if you learned to ride in your distant youth but could use a refresher, take a class to help you become a smart and safe city bike rider. Bike New York, a local non-profit organization, offers many courses in bicycle riding, maintenance, and safety across all five boroughs.
3. Understand the rules of the road.
The city has instituted bike laws enforced by the NYPD. Bicyclists can be ticketed for riding on the sidewalk, failure to have the proper equipment such as headlights, reflectors or bells; or failure to obey traffic control signals. Know your rights and responsibilities by reviewing – and making sure you comply with – the city’s bike laws.
4. Take Action - Improve Bike Safety.
The DoT has created and maintains 1,133 miles of bike lanes throughout the city – up from 513 in 20062. Bike lanes are not only safer for riders, pedestrians, and motor vehicles; they can also help to boost participation in ridership programs. While there are several projects underway for 20193, anyone interested in promoting bicycle safety through improvements in infrastructure and traffic policies can help. Transportation Alternatives is an NYC non-profit dedicated to promoting walking, biking, and public transport to make New York a greener, safer city for everyone.
Transportation Alternatives offers many ways to get involved: from signing a petition, to participating in community action and supporting local initiatives, city bike riders can combine their efforts to make a positive change in bike safety in NYC.
Getting around the city can be a challenge. The NYC Comptroller’s office4 estimates that subway delays cost workers and businesses nearly $400 million per year, with 74% of survey respondents reporting being late to a meeting, 65% being late to pick up or drop off a child, and 13% suffering lost wages as a result of subway delays. With the institution and expansion of bike lanes and bike sharing programs throughout the city, more residents are considering bicycles as an alternative to other types of transport.
To learn more about biking in NYC, and to become involved in improving bike safety for yourself and others, check out the NYXT content partners that promote urban biking here.
Subscribe to the NYXT newsletter
Learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and new organizations looking for your help.