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.
Bike lanes are now not good dinner party conversation. So says New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "Bike lanes, I put that now in the category of things you shouldn't discuss at dinner parties, right? It used to be money and politics and religion. Now in New York you should add bike lanes," the 2013 candidate for Mayor said, chuckling, as a luncheon audience of Broadway and tourism officials chuckled with her.
(For a famous dinner party conversation about bike lanes, read here.)
"Start wherever you want," urged WNYC's Brian Lehrer, who was hosting the event. "But talk about bike lanes, and pedestrian malls, and all things Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan."
"Bike lanes are clearly controversial," Quinn said. "And one of the problems with bike lanes -- and I'm generally a supporter of bike lanes -- but one of the problems with bike lanes has been not the concept of them, which I support, but the way the Department of Transportation has implemented them without consultation with communities and community boards. "
The City DOT disputes that, and has provided reams of evidence over the years of community board interest in bike lanes.
In her remarks, Quinn kind of acknowledged that, but still maintained there wasn't enough community notification.
"So, for example in Chelsea, the Ninth Avenue bike lane south of 23rd street was put in place -- and the Community Board Four loves the bike lane, LOVES the bike lane, been asking for bike lanes for years and years and years. It was put in on Ninth Avenue without notification to my office, and I was speaker at the time.
"That's a problem, right?," Quinn went on. "That's a problem particularly in a community like Chelsea, where there is such interest in bike lanes but then you just create tension. It's also a problem for example in Lew Fidler's district in Brooklyn, where I'd say the jury's mixed about bike lanes. They were okay with the idea of the bike lane, they just wanted it moved one block over. "
Quinn's remarks -- a variation of which have been uttered by many of the Democratic candidates running for Mayor -- came despite polls showing bike lanes are favored by a majority of New Yorkers.