For Big Apple bicycle supporters, one of the more distressing parts of having our impending bike share program pushed back from last summer to this spring is that it will give New Yorkers less time to get used to the new mode of mass transit before a new mayor can arrive and take them all away. A fear that isn't exactly assuaged when the frontrunner to replace Mayor Bloomberg goes and gives some plain old wrong statements about bike lanes. "Bike lanes, I put that now in the category of things you shouldn’t discuss at dinner parties, right?" City Council Speaker Christine Quinn reportedly said at a luncheon for Broadway and tourism officials. "It used to be money and politics and religion. Now in New York you should add bike lanes." And she went on from there.
According to Transportation Nation, Quinn's comments came at the urging of WNYC's Brian Lehrer, the event's host, who urged her jokingly to "talk about bike lanes, and pedestrian malls, and all things Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan." So she did:
"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."
Sigh. Yeah, because the Department of Transportation doesn't ever go to community boards and talk (and edit) their plans. Ever. Oh wait—though this is a regular City Council complaint—they actually talk to the public all the time. Even the famously "controversial" Prospect Park West bike lane was installed at the Community Board's urging. Just because someone doesn't bother to follow their local CB does not mean that the DOT hasn't been very careful in sticking to the rules with this stuff. You think Sadik-Kahn wants to give Steve "Bike Lanes Are Cancerous" Cuozzo more ammo?
Still, Quinn went on!
"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."
Yeah, that's a problem Quinn, but maybe not the problem you think? As Brooklyn Spoke astutely points out:
Both of Quinn’s sentiments cannot be true. Either the DOT does not consult with community boards or it gets requests from community boards such as CB4 “for years and years.” The only thing that seems to be missing, then, is some sort of personal phone call from Janette Sadik-Khan to Quinn herself. But such a petty complaint begs the question: what other changes to neighborhoods and streets require direct notification to the speaker’s office? Or is it just bike lanes?
But back to the beginning of Quinn's comments, isn't it a little weird to call something with "wide support" among New Yorkers "controversial?" Though it isn't like our current mayor always has the most balanced approach to safer streets:
Bloomie admits to caller: "We don’t enforce the bicycle laws as much as we should" in NYC.
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) January 11, 2013
At any rate, Quinn better be careful not to anger the "radical bike lane lobby." Let's not forget that Anthony Weiner was itching to become mayor and rip out all the bike lanes, and look what happened to him! A Christine Quinn social media sex scandal is one thing we can all agree we DO NOT need.