Despite all the fist-shaking and agitated sighing over Bloomberg's expansion of the city's bike lanes and pedestrian plazas, a study from the DOT shows that contrary to widely-held belief, traffic has actually sped up over the past few years.
The 2012 Sustainable Streets Index offers information compiled using taxi GPS data, which the DOT began collecting for traffic studies in 2007. According to the Index, average taxi speeds in Manhattan's central business district increased from 8.9 mph in 2011 to 9.3 mph in 2012, and nearly 7 percent since 2008.
Other interesting statistics from the study include:
- There has been a 58 percent increase in year round cycling since 2008
- Since 2003, there has been an 11.3 percent increase of transit ridership to Manhattan's central business district, and a 6.5 percent decrease in vehicular traffic.
- There has been a 9.5 percent increase in citywide transit ridership since 2003.
- Bus ridership outside Manhattan's central business district decreased by 3.6 percent in 2011.
Critics have accused the DOT of skewing the data, and several lurking variables may have contributed to the reassuring numbers. Christopher McBride, a transportation specialist with AAA New York told the Times that though traffic volumes have held relatively steady recently, they've decreased dramatically in the past decade—perhaps because motorists have just thrown in the towel.
“It is more of a hassle now than ever to drive into the central business district,” he said. “Some of these changes that have occurred, they’re more intimidating for drivers. And a lot of parking has been eliminated.”
The goal, of course, is not for cars to reach new high speeds on city streets: If anything, the new mayor will more than likely slow traffic right back down again.