Weiner: There’s No Need for “Warfare Over Bike Lanes”

Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner has edged a little closer to clarifying his now-infamous “tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes” remark.

Though he previously seemed to confirm what many suspected — that the Times, in its zeal for a juicy lede, turned an off-the-cuff exchange with Mayor Bloomberg into an indictment of transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan — Weiner, who’s not exactly known for holding his tongue, has declined to elaborate when it comes to the question of whether he would maintain or continue the expansion of the city’s program for safer biking and walking if elected mayor.

Yesterday, during a social media exchange that brought in thousands of questions and comments, Weiner had this to say:

“first it was a joke. but it make the story because we now have open and unnecessary warfare over bike lanes. its a false choice : bike lanes and true civic planning.”

It’s not the same as, “No, I’m not going to tear out any bike lanes,” but Weiner appears to be acknowledging that the current bike lane “controversy” has been trumped up in the press. As for saying that New Yorkers can have both bike infrastructure and “true civic planning” — that’s sort of a no-brainer, right?

More to come, no doubt.

  • Moser

    Don’t forget that an opinion poll on bike lanes has emerged in the interim. 15% margin in favor of the program, so what’s a politician to do?

  • Daphna

    This quote from Anthony Weiner does not make much sense and does not clarify his stance on bike infrastructure. I would rather Howard Wolfson than Weiner as a mayoral candidate!

    What are Eliot Spitzer’s attitudes towards bike/ped infrastructure, congestion pricing, parking maximums, transit, pedestrian plazas, penalties for drivers that injure pedestrians, etc. What if he ran for mayor?

  • station44025

    He didn’t work very hard to clarify his stance on the issue after the article came out, so I assume he’d like to have it both ways by leaving his position ambiguous. He’s probably made the calculation that if he comes out strongly in favor of bike lanes the downside is that he’ll definitely alienate the tabloid papers, Schumer, maybe some people at the NYT editorial page, and a certain number of voters who just hate lanes/bikes. By saying that he supports them “in principle” he can still oppose any instance that is controversial, and hopefully placate the lane supporters. It’s a triangulation for sure, but I think it smells like capitulation. I prefer people to take a position and defend it with a reasoned argument, but I’m obviously not running for office either. The only way forward is to convince politicians that there is enough voter mass behind bike lanes that they should give a damn.

  • Glenn

    The funny thing is that Weiner strikes me as precisely the kind of guy who would go neighborhood to neighborhood and cut deals with the local motorhead elites in exchange for their support to change bike lanes location and configuration until they are a disconnected, out of the way unusable mess. That struck me as similar to Thompson and Markowitz who seem to support every anti-bike lane group but somehow remain in favor of bike lanes in concept. Maybe you can have one along side the sewage treatment plant (but then again, lots of people park there!!)

  • Geck

    Brad Lander for Mayor.

  • Jan

    Weiner, is the Congressional rep for the areas around Western Jamaica Bay. Over the last several years he secured funding for establishment of miles upon miles of bike lanes throughout Gateway National Rec Area (i.e. Jamaica Bay) and along the water front (e.g. Fort Tilden). BTW a great summer ride for those interested. He has also lambasted the city for claiming the Plumb Beach bike lane (a city park) restoration was complete when they never got around to repaving it (currently it is not passable on a road bike and only barely on a mountain bike). I don’t think it is fair to say that he is anti-bike. I also think that some of the new bike lanes solutions are marginal at best and I believe they will be adjusted over time.

  • J

    Jan,
    Bike lanes at the beach are nice for recreation, but these are not serious transportation infrastructure. They do nothing to calm traffic or provide transportation choice. Supporting beach bike lanes is like being in favor of children.

    Calling the cycle tracks “marginal at best” makes me think you haven’t actually ridden on them. For a good comparison of old and new, try riding north on 8th Ave from 14th Street in Manhattan. I’d be happy to go on a ride with you, and we can truly experience the difference as we cross 34th Street.

  • csm

    J wrote: “Bike lanes at the beach are nice for recreation, but these are not serious transportation infrastructure. They do nothing to calm traffic or provide transportation choice. Supporting beach bike lanes is like being in favor of children.”

    Wow, what an incredibly ignorant comment! I wonder, do you ever ride your bike outside Manhattan?

    I have a co-worker who commutes by bike from the Rockaways to lower Manhattan, and now he has to take an inferior route (riding on the sidewalk on Flatbush Avenue up to Marine Park instead of taking the bike path to Emmons Avenue), since the path along the Belt Parkway by Plumb Beach is so badly eroded.

  • “Over the last several years he secured funding for establishment of miles upon miles of bike lanes throughout Gateway National Rec Area (i.e. Jamaica Bay) and along the water front (e.g. Fort Tilden).”

    Yeah I ride these paths about twice a year. I ride the new bike lanes in Manhattan and Brooklyn at least 300 days a year. I don’t care if Weiner considers himself anti-bike or not. He’s made hostile statements about transportation infrastructure that is most important to me and he has refused every opportunity to retract them. I will oppose his candidacy in all ways available.

  • David

    I like Wiener in general (that sounds funny). He seems to have balls in congress and won’t back down. Seems smart. Don’t like his anti-bike mantra, if he is indeed anti-bike. I’ll write and let him know.

  • J

    @csm,

    I wasn’t trying to knock the Rockaway bike paths. I love biking to the Rockaways (& in the Bronx and Queens). It’s beautiful out there, but a bit scary to bike there. I’d also love it if there were better paths to get there. However, creating a better bike path to the Rockaways, which would run mostly through large parks, is going to do much less for increasing the total number of cyclists than, say, creating a protected bike path that goes by lots of homes and stores. You certainly would help some pretty dedicated cyclists, and I think that’s important, but I honestly don’t think there are that many people willing to bike 15 miles to work, regardless of the paths.

    You definitely would get a lot less political resistance for the Rockaway path than you would for a cycle track in a commercial district, but you also get a lot less bang for your buck.

  • csm

    “However, creating a better bike path to the Rockaways, which would run mostly through large parks, is going to do much less for increasing the total number of cyclists than, say, creating a protected bike path that goes by lots of homes and stores.”

    Wrong. The best and most popular kind of bike path is one that has as few intersections with traffic as possible. The West Side Greenway (which doesn’t go by lots of homes and stores) did far more for cycling in the city than all the segregated lanes put together.

  • csm

    And no one is talking about “creating a better bike path” to the Rockaways. We’re talking about maintaining the one that exists. It used to be great, and now it’s unrideable.

  • Brandon

    Lets put curbs blocking half the intersections in NYC, creating a city of frequent auto-friendly streets, albeit where they are all disconnected so you cant get anywhere on them.

    Thats whats happening already for cyclists with poor bike infrastructure planning. You get a great ride for 3 blocks at a time, with hell to get to the next spur of safety. This also means that many people wont ride at all.

  • J

    @csm,
    Why the hostility? The West Side Greenway is near lots of homes and destinations, which is exactly my point. I rode it every day for nearly two years at all times of the day. I can assure you that the most heavily used parts of it were the ones closest to homes and destinations (i.e. south of 59th Street). In those locations, you don’t have to go very far out of your way to use it, and you don’t have to ride very far on it to get someplace.

    Greenways near people and destinations are ideal. However, there aren’t that many places where such greenways are even feasible (although there are some waterfront and former railway routes with great potential). Due to the lack of such space, we need to find other ways of putting useful bike routes through our city. Cycle tracks have proven very effective in this regard, and my point was that they go way beyond “marginal” improvements, I would also guarantee that the 8th Ave path gets many multiples of bike riders each week than any stretch of the Rockaway path, and 8th Ave has TONS of intersections. That is why I think Mr. Weiner’s position seems half-hearted at best.

  • Albert

    @David
    Weiner isn’t just anti-bike. He also fought congestion pricing. He is also on record blaming traffic congestion on commercial trucks rather than on private cars. He wants to charge commercial trucks rather than private cars and actually recommended restricting commercial trucking to non-daylight hours (i.e., to the “non-commerical” time of day) to reduce traffic congestion. NYC will truly be the city that cannot sleep.

    Weiner is clearly much worse than just anti-bicycle; he is also virulently pro-private car. Sure, he’s smart, and a great speaker, too — as most demagogues are. Be very, very afraid of Weiner.

  • Jan

    David – Weiner fought congestion pricing as that is what his constituents overwhelmingly wanted him to do, simple as that. He represents South Brooklyn/Queens which has a substantial number of families with cars and is underserved by public transit. You’ll have to forgive them for understanding that the ferry promise was a bunch of BS. Nobody was talking about using the substantial amounts of revenue to build out the former Bay Ridge/Staten Island freight/ passenger train tunnel (which at one point was started and then filled in), or the extension of the IRT down Flatbush Ave – which was the plan in the beginning (you can even see it on old maps) or reopening the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Line in Queens – Which BTW would make a fantastic bike lane.

  • Cormac Flynn

    Who. That is an optimistic spin on Weiner’s comments. From where I sit, he still hasn’t said that he will not dismantle the bike lane initiative. In fact, he has now posited the idea that bike lanes are something seprate, though not irreconcilable, with “true civic planning.” Sounds pretty hostile to me.

    What I’m really not clear on is Brad Aaron’s contention that “many” suspect that the NYT has mischaracterized Weiner on this. Why would anyone expect that? This is a guy who ran for mayor last time on the platform of repealing the restaurant smoking ban. His entire career MO has been to oppose or be snide about difficult, visionary initiatives – especially those popular with young, educated, reformer types – in favor of showing himself a “common-sense, no nonsense, working-class, middle-class values beer-drinking kind of guy.”

    THis may be a useful election strategy for a Democrat who wants to reassure swings voters he is no namby-pamby nike-riding, white-wine cafe drinking, metrosexual progressive, but it is not reassuring to those of us favoring visionary urbanism.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    I still think Weiner has the potential to be the Menachem Begin of bike lanes. Just as it took a right-wing Israeli prime minister to make peace with Egypt, we require a non-elite, outer borough, everyman mayor to convince New Yorkers that bikes and bike lanes are a good thing.

  • Westchesterite

    I know this is not on-topic, but I thought it interesting that when a bicyclist was killed at 96th Street on Friday, Michael Grynbaum is not covering the story for the New York Times.

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  • Mgardner

    and what about Clinton and how he used the cigar with Monica Lewinsky. He didn’t resign! and he cost the American taxpayer loads and loads of time, lying, and money. Why should Weiner resign????

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