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.
NYC Mayoral Candidate Lhota Likes Bike Share, But the Racks, Notsomuch
Thursday, May 02, 2013 - 01:23 PM
Yet another New York City mayoral candidate is trying to parse the bike issue. Republican Joe Lhota used the shock some people felt at the sudden arrival of docking stations as a way to distinguish himself from Mayor Bloomberg's management style. But, Lhota said, he's "absolutely in favor of" bike share, and in "no way, shape or form" means to criticize bike share or bike lanes.
As we've been reporting, bike lanes and biking have become a signifier in this mayoral campaign for what many candidates see as Mayor Bloomberg's haughty approach to governing. City Council Speaker Chris Quinn has said bike lanes raise such fierce opinions that she won't discuss them at dinner parties. And Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has said that while he, too, favors bike lanes, the mayor hasn't been pro-active enough in reaching out to different communities.
Now comes a new wrinkle from Joe Lhota, who says Bloomberg hasn't been top down enough. He said the mayor and his deputies, when choosing where the docks would go, needed to demand more coordination among city officials.
"You bring in the police commissioner and the fire commissioner and the DOT commissioner and you coordinate all of the issues related to, for example, where the new bike racks are going." Lhota told WNYC's Brian Lehrer. "I don’t know if they’ve done that," he said about the mayor's office. "I’m just using this as an example," he added. "You just don’t put the new bike racks -- which I’m absolutely in favor of, this is by no way shape or form a criticism -- it's about management style. I think leadership begins at the top."
The New York City DOT held 400 community meetings at which participants chose sites for the bike share docks, and most community board managers have been effusive in their praise of the process. But now that actual racks are hitting the streets -- and New York's angled racks are longer than those in many other cities -- some residents and businesses have expressed alarm.
Lhota said there hadn't been sufficient care to make sure, for example, the racks didn't go where emergency vehicles typically park. "That's insensitive," he said.
Polls -- taken before the docks began to be installed -- have shown overwhelming support for bike share.