More people pedaling in NYC

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With more New Yorkers biking, the city is converting old parking meters into bike racks.Photo courtesy of the NYC DOT
With more New Yorkers biking, the city is converting old parking meters into bike racks.

As New Yorkers spin their wheels thinking of ways to save money with the nation in the midst of a recession and gas approaching $4 per gallon, a record number of residents are spinning a different set of wheels.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) announced recently that biking has doubled over the last four years, and almost 10 percent more New Yorkers are taking to their bikes compared to last year.

The estimates come from DOT observations at six locations throughout the five boroughs — Staten Island, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Queensboro Bridge and the Hudson River Greenway at 50th Street.

An average of 18,846 cyclists were observed each day at the six locales, more than double the number of riders recorded just four years ago. Bike riding at the Queensboro Bridge rose 18 percent between 2009 and 2010.

As the number of bikers grow, so do the number of bike lanes lining city streets. Over the past four years, more than 250 miles of bike lanes have been added in the five boroughs.

A recent Quinnipiac Poll found 53 percent of Queens residents were in favor of expanded bike lanes, finding cycling to be a greener and healthier alternative. Residents also overwhelmingly support a city program that will allow New Yorkers to rent bikes. Over two-thirds of borough residents approved of New York City Bike Share, which is planned to launch next summer. More than 50 percent of residents favor having a bike rental lot in their neighborhood.

To keep up with the rising numbers of cyclers, the city is converting individual parking meters — now obsolete with the proliferation of munimeters — into bike racks. The DOT has installed 175 of the parking meter bike racks throughout the city, including along 37th Avenue between 73rd Street and 77th Street.

“Our infrastructure needs to keep pace with new demands on city streets,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “By transforming obsolete parking meters into off-the-rack bike parking, we are recycling old facilities to meet this growing need.”

The city issued a Request for Proposals for a vendor to manufacture 6,000 additional racks.