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NYC biking study sees more women, more observant riders

A woman walks over a snow-covered foot bridge

A woman walks over a snow-covered foot bridge with her bike in Brooklyn on Jan. 23, 2014. Credit: Getty Images

More women are riding bikes in Manhattan thanks in part to a bike-share program, and cyclists in general are paying more attention to traffic laws, according to a study released Wednesday by Hunter College.

Researchers reached those conclusions after observing more than 4,300 cyclists in lower and central Manhattan between June 10 and Nov. 1, 2013.

Despite the pervasive belief that cyclists pose a danger to motorists on the streets of New York, the report found that an increasing number of cyclists follow the rules of the road.

For example, 28.4 percent of male recreational or commuter cyclists -- referred to in the study as "general" cyclists -- stopped fully at a red light when observed, as did 38.3 percent of female riders.

The study also found that 47.8 percent of male general cyclists and 55.7 percent of female riders wore helmets.

Researchers said those percentages were all up significantly, compared with findings in 2009.

Far more men than women ride bikes in Manhattan, but the gap is closing, according to the new study.

The percentage of female riders has doubled in the last 4 1/2 years, to 23.6 percent. And female cyclists are more likely than men to abide by traffic and safety rules, the study found.

The authors of the report said greater compliance with traffic rules can be attributed in part to outreach efforts by bike clubs, advocacy groups and government agencies.

Another factor is last spring's launch of Citi Bike, a bike-sharing program that has drawn a large number of new riders, the researchers said.

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