London Mayor: Get Bigshots Out of Cars, Onto Transit “Like Everybody Else”

When was the last time Chris Quinn or Bill de Blasio rode transit to work? Left photo: ##http://nymag.com/news/features/christine-quinn-2013-2/index2.html##NYT/Redux##. Right photo: ##http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2012/10/27/nyregion/27deblasio.html##NYT##.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, whose entertaining quotes about Mike Bloomberg have been ricocheting around New York’s political circles today, could teach a thing or two to the candidates running for mayor here in NYC. Yesterday, “Boris from Islington” called in to a radio talk show with a recorded question for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg about Parliament’s profligate spending on cars for political leaders. It’s a question New Yorkers can appreciate.

“Get all those government ministers out of their posh limos and on to public transport like everybody else,” Johnson said. “How can we possibly expect government to vote for increases in infrastructure spending, which we need in this city in upgrading the Tube, which we all need, when they sit in their chauffer-driven limousines payed for by the taxpayers?”

Imagine, for a second, if any of New York’s crop of mayoral contenders stood up for transit riders like this. Instead, the NYC hopefuls are driving around the city, trying to convince New Yorkers, most of whom depend on transit to get around, that they feel their pain.

Although residents outside Manhattan struggle with long commutes on pokey buses, the candidates vying for votes in Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island have yet to mention Bus Rapid Transit on the campaign trail. At the same time, streets where you can walk or bike without fear of getting run over by a speeding driver have apparently become something to campaign against.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has been busy proving his bona fides as a man of the outer boroughs by repeating misinformation about bike lanes. Meanwhile, Comptroller John Liu has been trying to undermine bike-share, and Manhattan’s own Christine Quinn hasn’t even mentioned transit in the transportation reports she issues from the City Council.

In his quest to become mayor in 2009, Bill Thompson, like his primary opponent Tony Avella, campaigned against safe streets and bus improvements. That worked out tremendously for Democrats that year, so why switch strategies now?

Johnson, who was born in New York, joked with the Times that he might want to run for mayor here once he’s done in London. Given the current options, straphangers just might want to take up the offer.

  • Albert

    Even if it was only rarely, even if it was calculated, just the fact that Mayor Bloomberg actually rode the subway as an example was one of the most admirable things he’s done.

  • Anonymous

    They don’t want to mingle with the unwashed locals as they travel with their noses sticking up in the air. Started with Robert Moses who did not drive but always travelled by chauffeur.

  • Bolwerk

    And Johnson represents the right-wing of British politics. He’s less banal than our so-called leftists, like the conservative narcissists Quinn and Liu.

    It’s best that BRT not be mentioned. The whole point of BRT is propagating the transit problems we already have. We need subway expansion and modernization, with LRT on the surface – preferably both would could be OPTO or even driverless. BRT is of limited use or importance.

  • Joe R.

    I sincerely hope he does run for Mayor here when he’s done in London. The current group of candidates are, shall we say, uninspiring.

  • Bolwerk

    @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus: too bad he renounced his U.S. citizenship. 

  • Anonymous

    Charming quote from Johnson on his passport:

    the thing competed for by everyone from Rupert Murdoch to the most desperate Mexican wetback.

    Yes, he’d make a lovely mayor of New York . . . 

  • Anonymous

    Is De Blasio talking on his cell phone while driving in that photo?  Hard to see.

  • Anonymous

    @HamTech87:disqus  If you click through to the see the photo on the NYT site, it’s clear he doesn’t have a phone in his hand. But it does seem as though he has a hands-free earbud thing. The caption on the NYT thing is quietly vicious, if unintentionally so: One
    of the most frequent complaints Mr. de Blasio hears is about traffic
    and parking, and he can relate to them, because he usually drives
    himself to events.

  • Bolwerk

    @dporpentine:disqus: He’s just saying what Christine Quinn, et al, are thinking!

    (On all fairness, I’m not sure he understood what he was saying is regarded as disparaging.)

  • Nathanael

    Please note that this is the TORY — Conservative — Mayor of London.

    Things are pretty twisted over here, aren’t they?

  • Anonymous

    @e022fdea653897e77dd613c84576950d:disqus Yeah, it was probably intended as evenhanded-to-positive (“He drives *himself*! What a man of the people!”), but to someone from a handlebar perspective . . .

  • Anonymous

    Do agree that he twisted little here and try to mold the things to other way, might be out of transit was his little tricks to drive. Their is much traffic because increase number of Toronto airport limo services there.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

STREETSBLOG USA

London’s New Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Pledges to “Accelerate” Cycling Progress

|
London bike advocates proved they were a political force to be reckoned under Mayor Boris Johnson. After cyclists demonstrated that they would not be satisfied with half-measures, Johnson started to make serious headway on safe bike infrastructure in his second term. It looks like that progress will continue even with a new mayor from a different party. Last week, Londoners chose Sadiq Khan of […]

Today’s Headlines

|
NYCT Prez Howard Roberts Forced to Step Down in MTA Shakeup (NYT, News) Meet His Replacement: Former NYC Subway Chief Tom Prendergast (News) How Will Bloomberg Pay for His Transit Promises? (2nd Ave Sagas) Mayor Expected to Face Stiffer Resistance From City Council in Third Term (NYT) NYC Dems Blame Obama, Quinn for Thompson Loss […]

London Mayoral Candidates Vie to Be the Most Bike-Friendly

|
Remember the Times of London’s “Cities Fit for Cycling” campaign? Earlier this year one of the most prominent dailies in the UK pulled out all the stops to make bicycling safer in British cities, promoting a comprehensive policy platform. The campaign is for real: The Times is now getting London mayoral candidates on the record […]