Analysis of NYC's Bike Lane and Bike Share Program

Objective

Review New York City’s current bike share and bike lane programs from multiple perspectives (transportation engineering, public space administration, environmental sustainability), identify problems and successes, and develop a set of recommendations for improvements. Optionally, develop model international guidelines for bike lane and bike share programs that would be of interest to policymakers in cities worldwide.

Background

Beginning almost a decade ago, the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg embarked on a transformative transportation initiative that added 350 miles of bicycle lanes in streets previously dedicated to automobiles. This expanded system of bike lanes has become a topic of lawsuits, neighborhood squabbles, and debates over the proper role of government.

In May 2013, Mayor Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan rolled out “CitiBike,” a long-awaited bike-share program. At its debut, the program offered more than 6,000 bicycles available at 330 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn for about 15,000 people who paid a $95 annual membership fee. The launch represented the culmination of years of work, planning, community meetings, and some delays and technology failures. Many New Yorkers effusively praise CitiBike as the first major transportation alternative in decades. Others have expressed complaints, e.g., that the program will reduce road safety, absorb parking spaces, and tarnish the streetscape with unattractive bike stations. The city plans to eventually install many more bike stations in upper Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.

Polls find that 66% of New Yorkers say they support bike lanes, and about 72% say they support CityBike. But the controversies continue. Mayor Bill de Blasio, despite criticism of bike lane selection during the Mayoral campaign, has retained both programs.  The CitiBike program has been plagued with fiscal challenges and criticism, and has been subject to an extensive audit by the NYC Comptroller’s Office. This study will examine the role of bike transportation within the city’s mix of transportation modalities, using NYC as a case study, and will compare and contrast other urban model successes and failures to identify best practices.

Suggested Approaches

  1. Conduct research: Building on prior work in sustainable transportation classes at City College (see, e.g., http://ccnybybike.blogspot.com/ and https://transportationsustainability.blogspot.com/), analyze the data and identify gaps or additional information needed with respect to bicycle lane and share placement, safety, and other bicycle program issues. Expand the research to encompass comparative research into similar programs in cities worldwide.
     
  2. Identify policy issues: Identify and analyze the major policy and program administration issues, e.g., safety, signage, helmets, lane and bike rack placement, aesthetics, urban planning considerations, environmental benefits, social equity concerns, incentives, etc.
     
  3. Develop recommendations: For both the bike lane and bike share programs, create a set of recommendations for improvements or changes.
     
  4. Optional further phase—international model guidelines: Drawing upon research into both US and international programs, develop model international guidelines for bike lane and bike share programs that would be of interest to policymakers in cities worldwide.