New York City joins the bike path

NEW YORK - Bicycle lanes, cycling lessons for adults, and soon 10,000 bikes in a sharing program: New York is pedaling hard to join the world's growing love affair with the bicycle.

The number of New Yorkers taking the two-wheeled option to commute has doubled in the last five years, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office.

They are still a relatively rare sight as they zigzag between the yellow cabs and heavy traffic pouring through Manhattan each rush hour.

But if this can still be a perilous activity, that's starting to change, with 350 kilometers of new bike lanes put down since 2007, bringing the total to 683 miles (1,100 kilometers) and a target of 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) by 2030, according to the mayor's office.

Cyclists couldn't be happier with Bloomberg and his prominent transport commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.

"Their leadership and vision have been tremendous," said Brent Tongco, spokesman for Bike New York, a non-profit promoting bicycle use and safety.

"With many more bike lanes, people feel safer," he said.

Tongco said an attraction to bicycling is part of a broader awareness among New Yorkers about their health and protecting the environment.

Next summer will see 10,000 bikes deployed in the world's third largest bike-sharing scheme after Hangzhou in China and Paris.

The scheme was met with enthusiasm, at least among some New Yorkers, when announced September 14. Within a week, almost 6,000 visits had been made to the official Internet site for the project, where residents could use an interactive map to suggest locations for the future bike stations.

The city has rolled out demonstrations and a large crowd came in the rain at Union Square on Thursday to get their first glimpse of the colorful bicycles.

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