Armyda Escobar, Christopher Lutsker, Natalie Gorodetsky

Based on the data tables we have generated, when we compare bicycle network coverage to the percentage of adults suffering from obesity across the regions of Brooklyn, we do not notice a clear correlation. One region in Brooklyn worth mentioning is Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, which has the highest reported percentage of streets with bike lanes at 45%. They have an adult obesity percentage of 26%, which is only 1% below the Brooklyn average of 27% of adults with obesity across all the regions. Based on our hypothesis, we would expect Crown Heights and Prospect Heights to have an obesity percentage in the 15%-20% range. Another region of importance based on the data is Bensonhurst, with just 2% of streets with bike lanes. Bensonhurt’s reported percentage of adults with obesity is just 21%, which is even lower than Crown Heights and Prospect Heights’ 26% of adults with obesity. These two values, when compared against each other, disprove our hypothesis that installing more bike lanes will decrease obesity.

On another note, our data tables show a clear peak at the point of 9% bike lane coverage, which is the region of Brownsville with 41% of adults with obesity. Another peak is Borough Park, with 8% bike lane coverage and just 15% of adults with obesity. The difference in bike lane coverage is just 1%, yet the percentage of adults with obesity in Brownsville is nearly triple that of adults with obesity in Borough Park. This once again disproves our hypothesis because such a small difference in bike lane coverage is met with a staggering difference in obesity rates.

This might mean that bike lane coverage does not necessarily correlate with obesity. Other factors need to be taken into account, like the amount of smokers, consumption of sugary drinks, and unemployment. In Brownsville, the unemployment rate was 14% whereas in Borough Park it was 6%. Brownsville has 17% of adults who smoke, while in Borough Park it is just 10%. Lastly, Brownsville had 35% of adults drinking more than one 12-oz sugary drink per day, whereas in Borough Park it was just 22%. The different values observed here can be a clear indicator of why Brownsville has larger obese adult population than Borough Park, despite there only being a 1% difference in their bike lane coverage.

Despite this finding, it is also worth noting that in a study conducted in North and Central Brooklyn, 11.6% of the observed cyclists were recorded as obese, 27.2% as overweight, and 61.3% as normal/underweight. This is a stark difference from the average population in North and Central Brooklyn–29.1% of the population is obese, 34% is overweight, and 37% is normal/underweight. This may indicate bike lanes may be attractive to those that are physically active, since bike lane coverage is not correlated with its usage among all of the residents in a given neighborhood. Additionally, 21.3% of cyclists indicated that they were biking for physical activity, indicating that the bike lanes helped offer an outlet for regular physical activity. However, most of the cyclists surveyed were already normal/underweight. A future survey should be done to specifically ask obese cyclists about their reasons for biking.

Another factor worth noting is that the regions of Brooklyn occupy different areas and square mileage. 1% in one area may not be the same square mileage amount in another area. Future research can look into square mileage data rather than percentages because population density plays a role when large amounts of people are utilizing a small amount of bike lane space. In the future, we suggest looking into reported daily food consumption or the ratio of bodegas to supermarkets when looking for the root of obesity among Brooklynites.