Israel Barraza grew tired of the cost and time it took him to commute to work every day, so he decided to ride his bicycle.

But record-high gas prices weren't part of the reason Barraza started to ride his bike because he takes public transportation from his home in Jersey City, N.J. to his job as the manager of 14th Street Bicycles in the East Village of Manhattan. What he really wanted was to cut down on his commute time and avoid fare increases.

Barraza now rides his foldable bike to a train station in New Jersey, takes his bike on the train to Manhattan and then rides to the East Village.

“It saves me money and tons of time," Barraza said. "I would have to take a bus to take me to the station and then another bus after the station to get to my job. It could be half an hour quicker if I use a bicycle instead of public transportation.”

Barraza is emblematic of the increase in bicycle riding in and around the city. Since 2000 the number of riders in the city has increased by 75 percent, according

 

to the city's Department of Transportation. The growth has also been reflected in bike advocacy as the city's bike week in 2004 expanded to bike month, which was just held in May of this year.

The so-called bicycle boom that has taken place in New York has spread to other parts of the country and has been accelerated with the rising fuel costs. But in New York, most people don't drive. So they aren't avoiding a $4 gallon of gas, but are instead turning to bikes to cut down on their commutes, avoid public transportation fare increases and for exercise. The city has also played a part by investing millions in creating bike lanes and routes in all five boroughs.

With the increased demand and the bargain-hunter mentality of New York shoppers, online bike re-sellers (see slide show: The Drug Dealer of Bikes) and used bike shops (see video to the right) have done quite well, as have the traditional bike retailers that sell new models.

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