New York's Bike Requests as a Map of the City's Yuppies

Poorer neighborhoods aren't getting a lot of requests for the city's bike share program

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Michael Bloomberg loves biking. In the past four years alone, the mayor's administration has paved 250 miles of new bike lanes throughout New York City, and Wednesday morning, it announced an aggressive plan to place 10,000 bikes at 600 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn as part of a new bike share program. Everybody in New York seems very excited about joining the pack of bike-equipped cities like Paris and London, and the city is tapping into the fervor by crowdsourcing the task of deciding where to put the bike stations. Only a few hours into the Google Maps exercise, the response as been exceedingly positive; the bike station requests have completely obscured most of the city. But there's a noticeable lack of interest in the city's poorest neighborhoods.

In Brooklyn, station requests show up on almost every corner in the more affluent areas like Park Slope and Fort Greene. On the other side of Bedford Avenue, though, it's a different story. The much poorer neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Brownsville are completely barren.

East Harlem is pretty sparse, too.

It's not as if people don't live in these areas. In fact, census data shows that the areas with fewer bike station requests in central Brooklyn have some of the highest population density in the borough. The same goes for East Harlem.

The correlation of poor neighborhoods to few bike station requests could be attributed to a lot of things. Maybe, folks in Crown Heights have less access to internet connections that would let them get online and cast their vote. Perhaps people folks in Brownsville don't like to ride bikes. It's possible that East Harlem residents prefer the subway. However, there's also the cost factor. Since the city's not spending a dime on the program--it's funded by advertisements and fees from participating bicyclists--it's also worth considering Bloomberg's new plan is too expensive. With an anticipated price of about $100 a year, the bike share program will be much cheaper than the subway. But it's still $100 more than some New Yorkers can probably spare.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.