HREF="http://www.transalt.org/press/media/index.html">T.A. Quotes in the Media

October 22, 2001


The Road Back: NYC Bike Riding up 50% Since Sept. 11
The Wall Street Journal

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NEW YORK (Dow Jones)-Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Stephen Mack has been riding his bike on short jaunts instead of hopping on. a taxi or the subway.

"It's safer, it's more pleasant and it's faster," said Mack, a freelance film editor who lives and works in Manhattan.

Congested subways and the "slight anxiety" he feels underground also factor into his decision, he added.

Mack is part of a growing number of New Yorkers who are discovering the virtues of bicycling after the World Trade Center's collapse disrupted transit lines in lower Manhattan.

About 150,000 people now ride their bikes into New York City and its boroughs a day, a 50 rise from five weeks ago, according to Transportation Alternatives, a citywide advocacy group for pedestrians and bikers.

In Manhattan's central business district - defined as areas south of 63rd Street - about 20,000 riders are peddling in each day, a 33 rise from Sept. 11. These estimates are based on counts taken on city streets and at river crossings.

Most of the new bicyclists are transit riders tired of crowded conditions on subways, buses and trains, said Transportation Alternatives executive director John Kaehny, while some may also be fed-up motorists.

At bike shops throughout the city, sales are booming.

For example, Bicycle Habitat in Soho has experienced a 20 to 25 increase in bike, lock and equipment sales since the attacks, said owner Charles McCorkell.

At Terrific's Bikes in Brooklyn - about 2 miles away from the Williamsburg Bridge, a route for cyclists traveling into Manhattan - more repairs are contributing to the overall increase in business.

"People who come in, they mention that they're afraid to go on the subway because there could be a bomb or anthrax," said shop owner Tony Williams. "At least on the bike, they can ride away."

Even near Ground Zero, where business has been nonexistent for many shops, bikes are selling at a healthy pace.

Louis Vieira, owner of Gotham Bikes Inc., a West Broadway shop that lies mere blocks away from the remains of the World Trade Center, said he sells three to four commuter bikes - which he defines as those costing $400 and under - a day, 50 more than before the attacks.

Part of it may be that people are "coming out to support their businesses," he said.
In the long run, expect some permanent increase in bicycle riding in the city.
The significant and sudden rise in cyclists suggests that employers and building owners are becoming more flexible about bringing bikes to work, said Kaehny. The availability of bike storage is the number one reason why commuters would switch from public transportation or driving to hiking, he added.

Uncertainty about when major transit lines in lower Manhattan will reopen and the indefinite extension of the single-driver ban at city crossings will also keep some people pedaling away.

Charles Dweck, a retail-store owner who sometimes commutes from Flatbush, Brooklyn, into Manhattan, said: "It's long, it's hard, but there's no other resort."

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