Bicycle Use Soars in Aftermath of WTC Attack
Bikes were everywhere in the days and weeks following 9/11. Veteran cyclists continue to be wide eyed at the streams of bike commuters flowing over bridges and up avenues. Just released counts by the Department of Transportation show that bicycle traffic on the East River Bridges soared by 30% in the weeks following the terror attack. And, despite a big citywide slump in retail activity, major bike shops report substantially higher sales. The increase in bike use probably stems from crowded and delayed subways, and brutal traffic at entrances to Manhattan. Hopefully, one enduring aspect of the big jump in cycling will be employers and building managers allowing bikes into their buildings permanently instead of on an emergency basis. It is also likely that more people are walking, but year-to-year statistics on pedestrian traffic are not kept by city agencies.
The weeks long, post disaster ban on motor vehicles south of Canal Street and the closure of all streets in front of the 100 or so police precincts in New York City, was the largest sustained experiment in reducing motor vehicle routes ever conducted in New York City. On many Manhattan streets the result was substantial reductions in traffic congestion, and a vastly improved pedestrian environment. On West 30th Street (which is still closed to motor vehicles between 6th and 7th Aves.), T.A. measured a reduction in noise from 60 to 53 decibels at 12 floors above street level. Additionally, eastbound fire trucks on emergency calls are able to traverse 30th St. between 7th Ave. and 5th Ave. in 40 seconds versus five minutes previously.