Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
(Andrea Bernstein) WNYC's Brian Lehrer asked his listeners today for suggestions to help New York City Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith raise money for New York City. Two ideas were suggested by BL callers: 1) make business improvement districts contribute to the MTA, based on the theory that high rises directly profit from all the transit riders the subways bring to their doorsteps and 2) charge cycling licensing fees. Here's Goldsmith's answer, and a back-and-forth on bike lanes and bike share.
(You can listen to the segment here, the transit discussion starts about 15 minutes in and the answers excerpted below begin at 16:45.)
BL: And the buildings with proximity to transit?
SG: You have a great show, these ideas are great. So there is for new development a kind of a concept that you have transit-aided development, so if you have a subway stop in a place, it's going to create value for the buildings that are around it. It does create value. Without that stop, the buildings have less value. And it's legitimate then to create a district to take part of that increment into generally the capital budget of that project. Whether you could do that on the operating side is an interesting one, particularly with
existing buildings, but it's a fascinating idea and one we at least ought to think about.
BL: And as fast as the city as getting into the bicycle enabling business, how about licenses for bikes?
SG: I don’t know. I think we have a lot, maybe too many licenses and permits in the city and using that as a revenue source I have some anxiety about. I would say that we could do a better job with traffic enforcement and enforcement against bicyclists that don’t follow the rules and write more tickets for that.
So I think we can produce the conduct we want to produce without the regulatory apparatus, so I’ll take that one under advisement
BL: Are you involved in the bike sharing proposal that’s out today, for people who haven’t heard it: thousands of bikes for rent with pick up and drop off points all around Manhattan with private companies making the investment but the city sharing in the profits. Is that a Goldsmith idea?
SG: That’s a DOT idea from the creative DOT commissioner -- and basically her approach is the following: we’ve created bike lanes, and the bike lanes could be used more. And there are a lot of folks who go short distances. And around the world and several cities in the US there are bike-share programs.
The city doesn’t have the money to invest in bike-share programs and if a commercial operator could produce one where the bikes are safe and secure and clean, then she’s interested in getting the proposal. So this is -- for folks listening to the show --
[Bike Share] is not about more bike lanes per se, this is about use of existing bike lanes for tourists and others going short distances, and local residents.
It’s an interesting proposal let’s see what comes in and then see how good it is.
BL: You say its not about more bike lanes but bike lanes seem to be providing almost a cultural crucible moment in the city right now, heated debates over lanes on the Upper West Side an Prospect Park West and Borough Park The city has added about 250 miles in the last four years of bike lanes: will we see another 250 miles by 2014?
SG: I’ve learned early in my short career in New York City, if there’s any subject I don’t want to address its bike lanes. I've made a couple of comments I thought were really harmless, which have led to thousands of blogs and tweets and I’ve noticed the ongoing series of articles the last couple days in city papers. You know, I think from the Mayor’s perspective and the commissioner perspective at DOT that the goal is to create a more livable city and to figure out how to do that balancing the legitimate needs of motorists with the environmental aspects and opportunities of bicyclists, I think those are often difficult trade offs where reasonable people can disagree we’re going to have to be sensitive to seniors and others and congestion issues it’s a much more creative and livable city today than it was when the mayor started or the mayor before him started, so we will see what happens.