Bike riding continues to grow in New York, but the City’s curbside bike rack program has been shrinking.
Everyone wants to talk about Citi Bike, e-bikes, and scooters, but the humble curbside bike rack requires serious attention from City Hall and the City Department of Transportation.
CityRacks — the program that installs public bike racks along city streets — has been one of the bedrock city government programs supporting everyday bike riders since 1996.
People need places to lock bikes for shorter and longer stays, and the hassle of finding an odd sign pole or scaffolding support can even put someone off from using a bike for easy trips or errands. Well-sited curbside bike racks organize parked bicycles and keep sidewalks and bus stops free of obstruction.
Following a burst from 2010 to 2013, when over 3,500 racks were installed in 12 months, installation of new CityRacks has unfortunately been in a downtrend for the past 5 years. Only 800 were installed during the 2018 fiscal year.
am New York spotlighted the trend last week, but the city hasn’t explained why CityRack installation has slowed even as the bike lane network and the number of cyclists across the city continue to expand rapidly.
The Mayor’s Management Report – i.e. city government’s annual performance report card – does indicate that the “desired trend” for CityRack installation per year is “up,” and we agree!
Bike New York hopes to help CityRacks expand faster in coming years. We are working on a policy proposal to bring curbside bike parking to more of the city more quickly.
Several main points the policy will cover:
- Pairing CityRacks’ popular (indeed, vastly oversubscribed) “request-a-rack” approach with a larger strategic program aimed at installing large numbers of racks quickly at key sites like transit stations, schools and other significant locations
- A standard that would ultimately lead to CityRacks on every block in NYC, in numbers corresponding to building density and activity
- A long-overdue update to online data on CityRacks locations and numbers, and to city policy on bike rack installation
We’ll also try to see what we can find about funding for the program, to determine if that has played in a role in declining per-year installation.
On-street bike racks are neither the last word or nor the only game in town for bike parking. Indoor, parking garage, and other forms of more secure bike parking can be essential for commuting to work. But CityRacks was one of New York City’s first systematic commitments to getting around by bike. It offers great convenience for bike riders and better streetscapes for everyone where the racks are available, and there are still nowhere near enough racks across the five boroughs. Bike New Yorkers think it deserves more attention and further development by city leaders.