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Bike Lanes Fall Short in New York City

Samuel Staley
April 19, 2011, 10:07am

New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo has a hard hitting article on New York's much vaunted bike lane program. He outright calls the city's claims of success with the bike lanes a lie. I can't validate the claim, but the figures he cites from the Post's own survey seem pretty compelling that the actual impact of the bike program has been minimal. Cuozzo reports:

"We asked the Real Estate Board of New York, the landlords' group that represents owners of most of Manhattan's 400 million-odd square feet of office space. Last Thursday -- a bright, sunny day offering optimal cycling conditions -- REBNY collected responses from owners and managers of 77 million square feet in Midtown and Downtown.

"They reported a total of just 278 bicycles either in the racks or carried up to offices that day.

"Using a standard space-use formula that allocates 250 square feet to each employee, those 42 million square feet hold about 308,000 workers. Thus, a mere .09 percent of employees in those buildings went to work by bike.

"That's fewer than 1 out of every 1,000 workers biking to the office -- far fewer than even the paltry 0.6 percent the NYU study found citywide in 2009.

"After seeing the REBNY numbers, fearing they might be skewed, we asked employees at certain specific office buildings to count bikes immediately.

* At 1 Bryant Park -- the new Bank of America tower at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street, where 8,000 people work daily -- a mere 11 of 30 bike slots were taken in a secure, indoor room. That sunny day, about one out of 727 percent of employees at 1 Bryant Park went by bike.

* At Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle -- which wasn't included in the REBNY poll -- a 25-cycle rack in the building's garage is similarly free to anyone who works there, whether in an office, store, restaurant or hotel. On that same bright day, our source in the building counted exactly one bicycle.


The New York Times hosted a roundtable on the issue last December in their on-line forum "Room for Debate." Unfortunately, it looks like my predictions that this program is a massive subsidy for the few is bearing out.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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