It's Been Awhile....

Avid readers! It’s been quite a long time since I last posted on the blog. As soon as May rolled around, life got supremely busy with a new position at work, which took up a lot of my attention and time, and one of my summer school classes.

This class, Urban Data Analytics, has been very interesting and practical to a lot of the city issues that I’m interested in. It explores how cities, large and small, are using data to improve the services offered to their residents. This doesn’t mean that cities are turning into AI Overlords - it means that cities are getting smarter about how to make peoples’ lives better, which I think is one of the core responsibilities of government of any type.

One of the projects we did for our class was examining some data from New York City’s Open Data Portal. I encourage you to check it out because there’s TONS of interesting datasets at the site and the Portal has an easy-to-use tutorial on how you can do your own analysis of whatever dataset you choose. Being bicyclist commuter, I decided to examine some of the datasets NYC has about bicycle infrastructure, as well as some data on motor vehicle crashes in the city. If you’ve been following some of the bike news coming out of NYC, you’ll be aware that there has been a lot of bike crashes and fatalities in the city, recently. It’s incredibly sad, because bike and pedestrian fatalities are incredibly easy to prevent if cities simply stop designing their streets and infrastructure around the personal motor vehicle.

So the first thing I examined was the amount of motor vehicle crashes (of all types) in all 5 boroughs of NYC between January 1, 2019 and July 22, 2019. Apologies for the crappy formatting.

Borough Frequency Cumulative Frequency Percentage Cumulative Percentage

Bronx 12,636 12,636 13.85 13.85

Brooklyn 24,927 37,563 31.00 44.85

Manhattan 14,927 52,490 24.19 69.04

Queens 22,255 74,745 26.54 95.58

Staten Island 2,256 77,001 4.42 100

 In the table above, Brooklyn and Queens have the highest percentage of vehicle crashes in NYC, followed closely by Manhattan.

The next variable that I looked at was the amount of city-recognized bike routes in NYC. This includes all Class I, II and III bike routes. In a later analysis, I’ll take a deeper dive into the classes of bike routes and injury rates.

Borough Frequency Cumulative Frequency Percentage Cumulative Percentage

Bronx 2,570 2,570 15.41 15.41

Brooklyn 5,065 7,635 30.38 45.79

Manhattan 4,433 12,068 26.59 72.38

Queens 3,802 15,870 22.80 95.19

Staten Islan 802 16,672 4.81 100

The table above shows that Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens are the boroughs with the highest percentage of city-recognized bike routes. Things are getting interesting…….

Now, let’s look at bicyclist injuries in each of those boroughs.

Borough 0 Bicyclists Injured 1 Bicyclist Injured 2 Bicyclists Injured 3 Bicyclists Injured Total

Bronx 12,438 197 1 0 12,6363

Brooklyn 24,262 662 3 0 24,927

Manhattan 14,396 527 4 0 14,927

Queens 21,898 354 2 1 22,255

Staten Island 2,234 22 0 0 2,256

NYC Total 75,228 1762 10 1 77,001

Boom. Brooklyn, despite having the MOST amount of bike routes, also has the MOST bicyclists injured in this 7 month period. Manhattan and Queens are close behind. So despite having a lot of “bike routes”, these boroughs also have the highest amount of bicyclists injured.

One obvious reaction to these tables might be, “DUH!”. Because if you have the most bike routes, then you’ll have more bicyclists, which means that you’ll most likely have more bicyclists injured! That’s definitely true. However, I would submit that simply because NYC recognizes a “bike route” does not mean that it is necessarily safe for cyclists. A further examination of injuries and the different classes of bike lanes is warranted.

I don’t think the personal vehicle will ever go away. It’s woven into the American way of life and seen as a symbol of independence by many. But as more and more people start to ditch the personal vehicle for other modes of transit, especially bicycle, a city has a responsibility to keep those people safe. Cities have a responsibility to keep everyone safe, of course, but for those that eschew a convenient mode of travel for a breath of fresh air and exercise, cities need to do more.