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Mayor Bloomberg at the Citi Bike Kickoff

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the cycling/pedestrian accident in Central Park a few weeks ago. Accidents will never be completely eliminated from our world, however we can all learn from tragic incidents such as that one to help find an amicable plan for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists to co-exist. This city is capable of that challenge. New Yorkers have proven that they have the ability to band together when misfortune occurs. This city should be proud of what it has accomplished but at the same time, we should never lose sight of the safety and wellbeing of our fellow man.

Be proud New York City because you have now taken over the top spot for the 50 Best Cycling Cities in America by the editors of Bicycling Magazine. A prodigious accomplishment! In 2010, NYC was not even in the top ten. In fact, we didn’t crack the top ten until 2011, when we ranked eighth.

So “who” and “what” is responsible for this pinnacle achievement?

The “who” credit should be given to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his staff who launched PlaNYC in 2007. This plan brought together over 20 agencies with a goal of developing a greener city. Bloomberg realized that all major cities are facing exponential growth of their population. He believed the focus should be on the quality of life and the effectiveness of the city’s infrastructure. The plan targeted ten areas including parks, housing, and waterways, but transportation had the highest impact on bicycles. Since 2007, NYC has constructed over 350 miles of bike lanes. Not only lanes, but also separated-cycle pathways, two-way separated lanes and parking-protected bike lanes; the first ever in the U.S. It is important to note that despite the increase in cyclists and bike lanes, the number of accidents has remained constant. In fact, among major cities in the states, New York has the sixth lowest fatality rate for pedestrians and cyclists. That is an amazing statistic considering NYC boasts a population just shy of 8.5 million.

As for the “what,”  credit can be attributed to the implementation of Citi Bike which launched in May of 2013 and has taken New Yorkers by storm. A fleet of some 6,000 bikes are available at over 300 stations, 24/7, 365 days a year. As of May 2014, these bikes have traveled over 13 million miles or 27 round trips to the moon. Add to that over 7 million total bike trips, and one can see the impact the bike share program has had on the Big Apple. Like it or not, this program has had a major impact on the latest number one ranking.

It is no secret that New Yorkers pride themselves in being unique. I now challenge all of you to continue using bikes whenever possible. It is not only a healthy transportation alternative, but it is safe according to statistics. Personally, I cannot think of a better way to view this incredible city. The infrastructure is in place, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision includes continued focus on transportation by bicycle. Let’s all get involved and utilize the bike, and continue to be a role model for the rest of our country.

-John Cap Capobianco M.Ed.

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Bike lanes in New York City. Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

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Citi Bike is used all over New York City. Photo: Courtesy of Flickr