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Counting Bicyclists on NYC’s Manhattan Bridge!

Since this has been an such amazing year for NYC bike commuting (after all Bicycling Magazine now says we are the #1 bike city, right?) two dear friends of Streetfilms (Steven O'Neill & Brooklyn Spoke's Doug Gordon) who frequently ride the Manhattan Bridge bike path joined me this morning to count some bicycles.  We spent 20 minutes during the AM rush hour (specifically 8:49 am to 9:09 am) tallying commuters just for the fun of it.

It was a beautiful morning for riding and the numbers didn't disappoint - you'll need to watch the short video to find out the final tally. But the count was not shocking to anyone riding in NYC, after all the Manhattan Bridge has seen the numbers of bike commuters swell over the last five years, and the advent of Citi bike has only made the growth continue.

The October 2013, 12-Hour screenline count from NYC DOT was 4,004/day. Of course our one hour average came out much higher than that but it was done during rush hour. It will be interesting to see 2014's numbers yield.



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  • Eric McClure

    Love it! Who tipped off the cyclists that you were counting today?

  • Koen

    Some years ago, the Netherlands gifted New York some posh building because of 400 year Dutch- American relations. I heard that it was put to a whole different use than intended very soon after, of course because it just wasn't a practical gift. How I wish we had given a cycle path or a waterfront cycle track, or a bicycle-friedly intersection, or ANYTHING related to bicycles... Great seeing al these people cycling. I have good hopes that soon you will get better infrastructure anyways.

  • Komanoff

    Lovely video and esp'ly the presence of Steve O. Quantification is cool.

    The flood-tide of Manhattan-bound cyclists you guys recorded may not necessarily portend a higher 2014 screenline count vs. 2013. That's because, as Clarence acknowledges, rush hour counts are so much higher than 12- or 24-hour averages. According to NYMTC's most recent (2102) "Hub-Bound" report, 16.0% of all people entering the CBD on a typical 2012 weekday did so during the single hour of 8-9 a.m. If you ratio up the 20-minute count from the video, the figure you get is just 10% greater than the 4,004 figure in Clarence's post (which may have only been 12 hours, besides).

    The video definitely makes a strong case for adding cycle capacity to the East River bridges!

  • BBnet3000

    Can we at least re-mount the fence posts on the OUTSIDE of the low railing? Who decided to put them on the inside? Also put an acute angle railing where those 90 degree concrete corners stick out presently.

  • Joe R.

    But NYC isn't Amsterdam! I don't know, but looking at all those bikes this video easily could have been shot in Amsterdam.

    For the mathematically minded, if you're lucky a single lane of highway can carry about 1800 cars per hour. If those cars all have one occupant, which is the usual case, that's 1800 people per hour. You can fit two bike lanes into the space of one highway lane. Here we had 700 cyclists per hour but there were some notable gaps. A single bike lane easily could carry 1500 cyclists per hour and still be free-flowing. So one car lane devoted to two bike lanes can carry ~3000 people per hour, if not more. If we're concerned with moving people and not cars, it's obvious where our priorities should be.

  • Kevin Love

    The All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby!

  • wkgreen

    The MB bike path gets me home to Brooklyn every evening. It's the only piece of transportation infrastructure that I know of in this city that truly belongs only to bicycles and it's the best part of my commute. We need this everywhere, and not just on bridges!

  • Kevin Love

    They did give something related to bicycles. Specifically, bicycles. The Kingdom of the Netherlands gave New York 200 orange Batavus bicycles. Details here:


    And here is a photo of the King and Queen of The Netherlands riding those bicycles in New York.


  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    I have one of those Batavus!

  • Koen

    Ah, of course... now I seem to remember. But wouldn't it have been great if we had given a nice track along the Hudson, with a couple of bridges or ramps thrown in for good measure???

  • Reader

    10% higher than the 4,004 screenline count would still be an impressive gain since 2013, if it bore out in a scientific count!

  • Scott J. Epstein

    And this is why I try to be across that bridge no later than 7 AM... (Prefer to go before the rush...) :)

  • datbeezy

    I think it's a gross fallacy to say that it's the "usual case" that those vehicles have one passenger. Count and find out!

  • Richard Miller

    It was ok with me that Doug wasn't wearing a helmet. I hope it was ok with everyone else.

  • Kevin Love

    In my opinion, the greatest gift given by The Netherlands was to translate their CROW Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic into English. Now everyone can RTFM and realize just how crappy our bicycle infra is... and know exactly what to ask for to make it better. See:


  • Alexander Vucelic

    highway lanes carries way more than street motor lane. Therefore, protected bike lane Even more in city

  • http://jqr.posterous.com Jonathan R

    You can see also that at the 700 cyclist per hour rate shown in the video, the bike traffic starts to bunch up and slow when crossing Canal Street. Looks like that part is actually the choke point, not anywhere on the bridge path itself.

  • Joe R.

    It's a given that 700 bikes/hour isn't sustainable if there are traffic signals somewhere down the line.