Toeing the NBBL Line, Bill de Blasio Runs for Mayor of 9 PPW

Bill de Blasio’s comments in today’s Brooklyn Paper are straight out of the “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes” playbook.

Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign is rehashing talking points from bike lane opponent and former deputy mayor Norm Steisel.

To a question about whether he would dedicate space for biking and walking as mayor, de Blasio replied:

The motivation [for bike lanes] has been noble but the approach has often been without the kind of communication with the community that I’d like. What I’d say is that let’s look at actual evidence, not biased evidence, but actual evidence about what has happened with each of them. Where they’ve worked, great, let’s keep them. Where they haven’t worked let’s revise them or change them.

This is more than mealy-mouthing. In the thick of the 2011 bikelash, de Blasio met with bike lane opponents Norman Steisel, Louise Hainline, and Lois Carswell, along with their attorney, Jim Walden, “to discuss bike strategy,” according to documents obtained by Streetsblog through a freedom of information request.

A month later, de Blasio sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan that characterized the department’s evaluations of several projects as “rubber stamps” — echoing NBBL propaganda from its campaign to discredit DOT and erase the Prospect Park West bike lane. Soon after, DOT announced that it had abandoned plans for a separated busway on 34th Street.

Last night’s vote for safer streets on the Upper West Side adds to a long list of publicly vetted and community-backed bike and pedestrian projects. The real “biased evidence” is the cherry-picked data trumpeted by NBBL for its PR war against a project that grew from the ground up.

In his nascent campaign for mayor, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has yet to take a stand for measures that are preventing injuries and saving lives. Instead he is parroting the line of a handful of insider malcontents who would reverse the public process to make the streets more dangerous for millions of New Yorkers.

  • J

    Does anyone actually believe this crap? I understand that a good number of people don’t like what DOT is doing in the city (less space for cars), but to critique the process is simply ridiculous and purposefully misleading. It’s the cynical Birther strategy that if you repeat a lie enough times, people will believe it. It appears De Blasio is quickly becoming the Donald Trump of bike lanes.

  • J

    Does anyone actually believe this crap? I understand that a good number of people don’t like what DOT is doing in the city (less space for cars), but to critique the process is simply ridiculous and purposefully misleading. It’s the cynical Birther strategy that if you repeat a lie enough times, people will believe it. It appears De Blasio is quickly becoming the Donald Trump of bike lanes.

  • Rose Cotton

    I wish I could vote for this man in clear conscience so, so badly….he seems the lesser of several evils.  However, at least going by his campaign website, he has no opinion or plan of action on reducing traffic deaths, and he has over and over issued the same tired soundbite listed in the BK Paper regarding how to safely accommodate other modes of travel besides cars.  “Where they’ve worked, let’s keep them” does not address his opinion on implementing more infrastructure that promotes pedestrian and cyclist safety and access, especially if those ARE, in fact, requested by members of the community.  If things keep going the way they are, I am afraid that the only vote I will be able to cast in the mayoral race is one of no confidence.

  • Guest

    The problem is that in trying to distance themselves from Bloomberg, candidates like Quinn and de Blasio continue to distance themselves from the truth.

  • Anonymous

    Why do none of these geniuses remember the anti-livable streets/anti-public transportation platform of Bill Thompson–i.e., the last Democrat to go down in flames trying to pander his way to the mayor’s office?

  • Joe R.

    We all saw how useful bike lanes are after an event like Sandy which renders our subways useless, and the streets clogged with motor vehicles. Why do people like de Blasio continue to fight against something which is both great for the city, and as popular as anything is ever likely to be in NYC? How many other facets of public policy regularly garnish 60 to 70% approval ratings? Stop trying to appease the dwindling minority of motorists who will never be happy unless they have parking right in front of their destination, and can travel freely at highway speeds all the time. Seriously, history shows what happens when you try to appease power hungry, unreasonable people. Stick with making the majority happy here. Chances are good also that most of the pissed off motorists are suburbanities who can’t vote for you anyway.

  • Bolwerk

    Based on actual, not biased (whatever that is), evidence, I bet a bike lane could be placed on nearly any street in any mixed use neighborhood the city and work pretty well – that is to say, it would attract users and probably even induce demand in places where there isn’t much. And I might even be inclined to extend that comment to include any residential street in the city too.

  • Larry Littlefield

    As the reasons to vote against each candidate continue to roll out, it appears that voting in the Democratic primary for Mayor will be about as much fun as voting in the most recent Republican primary for President.  Good thing I’m not in either party.

    Because the Democrats are the party of privileged special interests in the public sector.  The Republicans beat them as the party of generational inequity.  And neither has any real concern for the serfs.

  • car free nation

    Isn’t this the guy who killed the outer-borough taxi plan? Bill de Blasio does not care about people like me, who don’t get around by our own private car.

  • JustTheFacts

    Just printed and sent this article from the American Journal of Public Health to Bill’s office:

    http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300762

     

  • Morris Zapp

    @a647a0ebdd8d45b78d6cd494aca6b3b2:disqus That was once my thought too, but I think it’s the wrong approach.

    I think we should instead let candidates of all stripes know that we will be voting, and that our vote hinges on which one presents the most promising platform to further the cause of street safety.

    Best case scenario: we have a mayor who gets it, or who can be educated. Worst case, they lie like Cy Vance did, and we can at least hold them accountable for it in four years.

  • Changed Mind

    Christine Quinn suddenly looks like a choice.

  • Anonymous

    I would really like to as de Blasio, who claims to be “representing the little guy,” if he thinks most of the “little guys” in the city drive a car every day like he does.  I would love to ask him if he thinks that policies that make driving easier but increase air pollution (resulting in higher asthma rates) are good for the “little guy.”

  • Mary Alden

    Yes, let your reps know that you fine bikers vote.  And also let them know you are predators to all pedestrians and that you never stop at red lights.  Tell them that too.

  • Eric McClure

    Nice try, @c3b7a102061b36fad410ca57b5aa2b9b:disqus . I always stop at red lights (whether on my bike or in my car). And I always vote. And I’m not alone.

  • Anonymous

    @c3b7a102061b36fad410ca57b5aa2b9b:disqus I recommend contacting the parents of Mathieu Lefevre and Rasha Shamoon –both of them cyclists who were killed by incredibly negligent drivers–and telling them that their children were “predators to all pedestrians.” Try it. I dare you. 

  • Asked about Times Square Plazas on WNYC, de Blasio’s answer:  “As a driver, I don’t go to Times Square.”

    de Blasio is a mon-modal auto advocate from Park Slope. 
    Guess this proves that the Slope is made up of more than organic food bicycle nuts.  Which it always was and is diversified.

    It’s too bad I can’t/won’t vote for de Blasio.  It’s not just his anti-bike stance, but worse, his total ignorance of the traffic safety disaster going on in this city.  More people killed by cars than by guns, but that’s just business as usual.

    Quinn is just as worse.  Another one who rolls over and plays dead for the Police Department, no criminality suspected….

  • Predator

    As predators, we bikers are doing a terrible job! Not a single killing in years even as our numbers grow. We should talk to motorists and get some tips. They kill one person almost very day!

  • For Mary and other drive-by aggressors, you need to recognize that this is not about “bikers” and especially not about the crude stereotypes in your head. The central problem with the democratic mayoral candidates is they have no identifiable principles. They are just a bundle of loyalties to murky interest groups, and they are brazen about it. Supporting streets that are less dangerous and more usable for the whole of the public should be an obvious choice for the liberal party in a liberal stronghold. Instead we get these retrograde puppets who apparently have no idea what it is like to walk around the city everyday, even though most of the millions of people they hope to govern do exactly that. They are obsessed with driving and parking, even though most of us have no cars.

    I encourage you to read this blog seriously and see how many stories are about how it should not be permitted to run down the elderly in crosswalks with no consequence (as is the status quo), about the people who are allowed to park illegally on the sidewalks with impunity, and about the changes that make it possible for the public to once again use its streets, before you malign the readership as predators.

  • Joe R.

    @c3b7a102061b36fad410ca57b5aa2b9b:disqus First of all, your statement that “bikers” never stop at red lights is categorically false. Just in this thread we have two people who always do-Eric McClure and dporpentine. I’m sure they’re not the only ones in NYC. And I always stop at red lights if there are either pedestrians crossing or cross traffic. I’ll admit I roll through when nothing is coming, but I at least obey the spirit of the law here, although not the letter. Second, do you always wait for the walk signal to cross the street when you’re walking, even when nothing is coming? I doubt it-99.9% of NYC pedestrians don’t. Therefore, you have no high ground here. We have statistics to support the case that irrespective of whether or not “bikers” obey traffic traffic laws to the letter, they’re just not a major danger to pedestrians. The last time someone was killed by a cyclist was in 2009. Several hundred pedestrians (actually maybe over a thousand) have been killed by motor vehicles since then. As Nathan suggests, stick around and read the daily articles on this blog. Maybe you’ll see the real problem here, and it isn’t on two wheels. The irony is the majority of city residents support street changes which would greatly reduce the carnage, but we have far too many politicians like de Blasio who shamelessly cater to the dwindling motoring minority. The cyclist stereotypes in all the daily papers aren’t helping matters any, either.

  • Bolwerk

    Bikers often shouldn’t stop it at red lights. They have a moral imperative to break the law when their safety is at stake, and nobody else’s is.

    And why would bikers go around hitting people willynilly?  It’s not like a bike weighs several tons. Even a malicious biker has very little incentive to run into someone, first of all because the biker might get hurt in the collision and second of all because the victim is likely to have a perfectly operable pair of fists.

    Being predatory on the road is almost the exclusive province of motorists.

  • Anonymous

    @8179d1cf90a9edba40e7dac63bbf2254:disqus

    a moral imperative to break the law when their safety is at stake, and nobody else’s is.

    Oh please. In more than five years of biking ten miles a day in Brooklyn I’d say that my safety has been at stake in such a way as to force me to run a red maybe twice. And if I’m remembering those events correctly, both times came only after I’d stopped and it was clear some nut in a car behind me was acting very, very dangerously. I would’ve gotten out of the way even if I’d been in a car.
    Most red right running is just for the convenience of the cyclist. Maybe in a small number of cases it’s the result of some general conviction that doing so is safer. But why gin this obvious reality into some Kant-inflated crapola?

  • jrab

    @8179d1cf90a9edba40e7dac63bbf2254:disqus is absolutely correct.

    I am a thinking bicyclist, but I don’t understand how to reconcile these two ideas:

    1. Bicyclists should at all times assume their own invisibility and that motorists do not realize they are sharing the road with bicyclists.

    2. Bicyclists should at all times stop at every red light so that motorists feel better about sharing the road with us.

    If you take no. 1 to heart, no. 2 seems futile and ridiculous, like sharing fish with a bear. 

  • Bolwerk

    @dporpentine:disqus: your definition of safety must not include much consideration for your own self-preservation then.  If I’m so much as a little unsure what the dink in an SUV is going to do at an intersection, I assume he’ll do the worst and will get a head start. And, yeah, I guess I agree with your numbers – I’m pretty sure that’s saved my life about once or twice in the past five years, which was the intended purpose.

    I know, there’s a small chance s/he’ll have no regard for my life, but if you gamble wrong, all future betting is off. But why is the convenience of the cyclist not important, anyway?

    …Kant-inflated crapola….

    I know this is besides the point, but I think the position I took was more consequentialist than deontological (Kantian). Kant would probably agree with you, not me.

  • jooltman

    Bill DeBlasio’s choice is simple: Pander to a small group of potential campaign donors or endanger the lives of children in his own neighborhood.

  • Mark Walker

    De Blasio’s contempt for the consensus building that made possible the PPW bike lane bears more than a passing resemblance to Cuomo’s contempt for the consensus building that would have made for a multi-model Tappan Zee Bridge. This pattern of behavior is troubling. Hell, we might as well vote for Republicans.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve little doubt passing red lights makes things safer because I’ve tried it both ways. The sheer number of near misses or otherwise dicey situations dropped from several per ride down to once a week, if that, once I gave up stopping religiously at every red light. The pack of accelerating vehicles all jockeying for position when a light flips green is simply not a good place for a cyclist to be, ever. The usual solution given to this, which is to hang back until the cars are ahead, is ludicrous. One, because it doesn’t always work. Two, as it is any cyclist waiting the full cycle at red lights will be caught at a light every 2 or 3 blocks on most streets given the horrible light timing. Hanging back for the cars to get away will make that more like every block. At that point you might as well forget the bike because you’ll be able to walk as fast. Another great thing about passing red lights is you’ll have the street to yourself, at least until the pack of cars waiting at the light catches up. The less cars and bikes are in close proximity, the better.

    And yeah, even if safety wasn’t an issue here, it’s generally accepted for other modes in transportation engineering circles that delays of even 50% are not acceptable. “Normal” red light timing on most NYC streets results in delays of 100% to 300% for cyclists, depending upon riding speed (fast cyclists are delayed a greater percentage).

    Oh, and I get leg cramps which can suddenly occur without warning if I stop one too many times. I’m sure I’m not the only one. The human body is a great machine, but you can’t treat it as a motor vehicle. No cyclist can stop every three blocks on rides of 20 to 40 miles (that’s more or less the usual range of my rides).

    From my extensive reading on this subject, the countries where red light compliance among cyclists is fairly high are also countries where traffic signals are seldom used. Trying to get high red light compliance in a place like NYC is like drilling a hole in water. Besides, beyond “it’s the law”, I’ve yet to see a compelling reason why cyclists (or pedestrians) should wait out every red light. The stuff about motorists respecting you is just rationalization. They don’t even notice, at least until they’re honking at you while you’re in front of them trying to get back up to speed (assuming they don’t just run you off the road first). If all cyclists stopped at lights, the bike haters would just find something else to complain about. “Oh, those bikers are so sloooooow. I hate having one in front of me when I’m trying to go 50 mph”. For multiple reasons, the less bike and cars are near each other, the better. Going through red lights accomplishes this as well as anything.

  • Driver

    I wholeheartedly agree with Joe R. about waiting at red lights and having cars gun it to get past you when the light changes. Jockeying for position among a cluster of cars is one of the last places I want to be on a bicycle.  The one situation I can think of that is worse than that is standing in the middle of a two way intersection waiting to make a left turn.  I find it much safer to cross over to the wrong side of the road when there is no traffic or pass the red light when there is no cross traffic than to be a sitting duck in the middle of an intersection with moving traffic. At least when you are moving you can avoid just about any vehicle if you have to.  If you are stopped in an intersection, you are screwed if a car hits you, or if two cars hit each other near you. What is legal is not always the safest, or even safe at all.

  • Anonymous

    @SB_Driver:disqus @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus @85211970d034887d032f8c319f70adbb:disqus And my experience is that stopping at lights, participating in the general flow of traffic, all while staying aware of my surroundings, etc., feels safer. And that experience is exactly as valid as yours. And thus takes us nowhere.Meanwhile, I’m the same person on a bike as I am in a car. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why my choice of vehicle abrogates my responsibility to obey the law.

  • Bolwerk

     @dporpentine:disqus: nobody is telling you not to stop at lights.  If stopping makes you feel safer, have at it. It’s your life. It’s just a little unfair to expect other people to follow your example, given that I think at least four of us here have had wildly different (and probably more representative) experiences with the attendant problems with stopping at lights.

  • Joe R.

    @dporpentine:disqus You’re exactly right that your experiences are as valid as anyone else’s. Remember we all ride different places at different times. 95% of the time when I hit an intersection with a red light there’s literally nothing there. And here a lot of the light cycles are very long due to the timing of the walk signals so pedestrians can cross wide streets. It’s not going to benefit me in any way, shape, or form sitting and staring at empty space for 40 or 60 seconds, probably dozens of times in a ride. And what happens if my legs cramp when I start up again? Remember the public transit here is often not too great even in the day. Really, outside of “it’s the law”, I can’t think of any reason cyclists or pedestrians should wait out the full cycle of red lights. By all means slow or stop as needed to allow those with the legal right-of-way to pass, but after that, what purpose is served by staring at empty space? What I would like to know is why the law feels it’s OK to impose a set of requirements on me which quite literally steals time from me for no valid reason. This isn’t about safety. We could engineer traffic signals so they only go red if something is actually crossing. The fact that the state chooses not to, using dumb, timed signals instead, shouldn’t be my problem. In fact, I could probably fight the law on that basis, or at the very least eventually get a ruling to force NYC to use pedestrian and vehicle detectors at every traffic signal (or remove them if they can’t or won’t). Actually, they should be doing the latter anyway. 75 years of experience has shown us traffic signals rarely if ever increase safety. Most of the time in fact they do the opposite.

  • Anonymous

    @m_walker:disqus What’s amazing is that the Democratic candidates are acting un-democratic.

  • jooltman

    P.S. Great article title, Streetsblog!  Mayor of 9 PPW indeed.

  • Compliance Monitor

    Mr. de Blasio’s point of view couldn’t be colored by the fact that he’s accepted nearly $10,000 in campaign donations from progressive law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and progressive attorney Jim Walden now, could it?

  • Compliance Monitor

    To borrow a phrase from our friend Louise Hainline, perhaps Bill is suffering from “Contribution Bias.”

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