New Yorkers Take to Biking Since Attacks
- New Yorkers Take to Biking Since Attacks
By Kathy Chu
The Wall Street Journal
Page B11F Copyright (c) 2001, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
NEW YORK -- Since the Sept. 11 terrorist 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," says Mr.
Mack, a free-lance film editor who lives and works in
Manhattan. Congested subways and the "slight anxiety" he
feels underground also factor into his decision.
Mr. Mack is part of an increasing number of New Yorkers who
are discovering the virtues of bicycling after the World
Trade Center's collapse disrupted transit lines in lower
About 150,000 people a day now ride their bikes into New York
City and its boroughs, a 50% rise from six 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, says
Transportation Alternatives executive director John Kaehny,
while some also may 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,
says owner Charles McCorkell.
At Terrific's Bikes in Brooklyn -- about two miles away from
the Williamsburg Bridge, a route for cyclists traveling into
Manhattan -- more bicycle 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," says
shop owner Tony Williams. "At least on the bike, they can
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, says he sells daily three to four commuter bikes --
which he defines as those costing $400 and under -- 50% more
than before the attacks. Part of it may be that people are
"coming out to support their businesses," he says.
In the long run, some observers expect a 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, says
Mr. Kaehny at Transportation Alternatives. The availability
of bike storage is the No. 1 reason why commuters would
switch from public transportation or driving to biking , he
Uncertainty about when major transit lines in lower Manhattan
will reopen and the indefinite extension of the single-driver
ban at city crossings also is expected to keep some people
pedaling. Charles Dweck, a retail-store owner who sometimes
commutes from Flatbush, Brooklyn, into Manhattan, says: "It's
long, it's hard, but there's no other resort."