The city’s Department of Transportation just released data showing far more New Yorkers than usual walked over the four East River bridges during last month’s transit strike, yet fewer biked than during the 1980 transit strike. According to figures revealed by Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall in an interview with the New York Times (reg. req’d.), a whopping 34,000 pedestrians a day walked over any given East River bridge while the subways and buses were shut down, compared to a normal average of about 2,000. The total pedestrian “volume” was 14 percent higher than during the 1980 strike.
Yet, Weinshall continued, there were 44 percent fewer cyclists this time around than in 1980. What changed? Probably the weather. The first transit shutdown occurred during a relatively mild April, while the more recent one happened in frigid December.
While some news accounts played these latest strike figures as a decline in cycling, according to an informal survey by the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, there were five times as many people commuting by bike during the strike than on a normal day–a significant jump considering that temperatures were below freezing. And many New Yorkers have apparently kept pedaling. Cycling in the city is up 21 percent since the strike ended, according to Transportation Alternatives, which surveyed rush-hour commuters last week at the three Brooklyn crossings.
In general, daily biking in Manhattan has increased 250 percent since 1980, according to the DOT’s own figures.