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The Era BSK

December 11, 2011

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Via Felix Salmon at Reuters:

This is a chart of the number of bike commuters in New York. It’s known as the NYC Commuter Cycling Indicator, and it comes from surveys taken ten times per year at predetermined points around the city. It doesn’t give a good count of the number of bike commuters in New York, but it gives an excellent idea of the trends: bike commuting has essentially quadrupled in the past decade, and has doubled over the past four years. Which just happen to be the four years during which Janette Sadik-Khan has run the Department of Transportation.

This is important because it shows just how effective strong leadership can be, when combined with a dedication to creating good infrastructure.

If you really want to get excited, imagine what kind of information could be added to this chart one year from now.  The city’s bike share system will bring with it a treasure trove of open data that will start to give a picture of how people move by bike within the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, which is something DOT does not currently measure.

We can’t take anything for granted–the next mayor could be New York’s version of Toronto’s Rob Ford–but in my opinion the toothpaste is out of the tube.  An anti-bike administration may succeed in removing some cycling infrastructure after 2013 rolls around in an effort to appease the NBBLers and other members of the city’s elite motoring class, but such victories will be minor historical hiccups.  Future documentarians who chronicle the rise of cycling in New York City may have to refer to all dates prior to 2007 as BSK, Before Sadik-Khan.

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