Ignoring Dozens of CB Votes, Lhota Says Bike Lanes Drop From the Sky


When it comes to bicycling, Joe Lhota has a penchant for ignoring facts in favor of opinions. As Hurricane Sandy approached landfall, the then-MTA chief tweeted a photo of a man riding in a shared lane on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, implying that bike lanes are to blame for bike-bus crashes. This May, he said that DOT didn’t coordinate with the fire department on bike-share station siting, when FDNY said that, in fact, DOT vetted the locations with them.

Now, we have another example of the Republican mayoral candidate ignoring reality, captured by YouTube user gifterphotos and tweeted by New York Observer editor Colin Campbell. Lhota was speaking on Sunday at the Flatbush Jewish Community Relations Council when he got to the topic of community consultation: “We now have more and more bike lanes. Let’s not debate whether or not we should have bike lanes,” he said. “But how is it possible that bike lanes go in your street without any community input whatsoever? The community boards don’t know about it. It just happens.”

Has Joe Lhota been to a community board meeting lately? Maybe he missed the bike lane planning and requests led by community boards in Co-Op City, Middle Village, Long Island City, Bay Ridge, Staten Island, and the Upper West Side, to name a few. Maybe he forgot that Local Law 90 requires DOT to give community boards a comment period on significant streetscape changes, including most new bike lanes. Perhaps he wasn’t aware that DOT was already doing this type of outreach before the law passed, and that while community boards are advisory bodies, the agency usually defers to them, even when it means a dangerous street design will remain in place.

Lhota continued: “When was there a speech or a major understanding of what the strategy is about bike lanes in New York? Where do you want to go with it? What is the vision for that? It just happened, and it just keeps being rolled out.” Maybe Lhota wasn’t paying attention during Mayor Bloomberg’s agenda-setting PlaNYC speech in 2007, or didn’t see the documents and updates that followed. Perhaps he didn’t see the city’s street design manual, which lays out which types of streets are fit for particular street safety interventions, including bike lanes.

For someone who once occupied the post of deputy mayor for operations, those are some awfully big blind spots about how the city currently operates.

Claiming the city has a one-size-fits-all approach to bike lanes, Lhota went on to cite an example on Staten Island — it’s not clear where, exactly — of DOT importing a Manhattan-centric approach to bike lanes and turn restrictions. “I’ve just had this issue on Staten Island. DOT makes decisions…for Manhattan and then they roll it out to all of the boroughs,” he said. “What’s good for Midtown makes no sense [on Staten Island]. But all of a sudden, they come to the conclusion, ‘If it’s good for here, it’s good for everywhere.’ And it’s not. It really isn’t.”

While Lhota didn’t specify what street on Staten Island he was talking about, he might want to know that Community Board 1, chaired by Republican consultant Leticia Remauro, passed a resolution last month asking DOT for bike lanes on Clove Road. According to Staten Island bike advocates, Remauro was particularly interested in protected lanes.

It’s not just cycling that’s fallen into Lhota’s blind spot: His platform doesn’t include anything about bicycling, walking, or street safety. Although Lhota said on the John Gambling Show that pedestrian safety would be his second transportation priority as mayor (behind syncing the stop lights), he hasn’t mentioned it since. Streetsblog asked the Lhota campaign if the candidate has any policy ideas on these issues. We’ll let you know if we hear anything back.

  • Clarke

    Imagine going to a job interview and going on a rant about the company or organization the position is within, thus revealing that you’ve done absolutely no research about said company or organization. You’d be laughed out of the room.

    Wouldn’t worry about anything different happening with Lhota come this election.

  • Have you reached out to the Lhota campaign to comment? I’d love to hear their excuse. What a disappointing candidate considering his background.

  • Ari

    Down by a 3-to-1 margin in the polls, you’d think Lhota would do something dramatic to shake things up. But he continues to pander to a subset of voters with this garbage.

    Strange.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I did. See the final line of the post.

  • Whoops. My bad.

  • Anonymous

    Egads! I’ve spent about as much time in Community Board meetings addressing bike lanes as Joe Lhota has spent running for mayor (or does it just seem that way?)

  • JBS

    Already starting to refer to BdB as Mayor de Blasio.

  • Just a few minutes ago, I was laughing at the parody Twitter mayoral candidate Rip Out the Lanes and commiserating with his not having won either main party’s nomination. I now realize I was wrong. Joe Lhota is, in fact, Rip Out the Lanes.

  • Alex

    It really is odd. I keep saying he seems to be running for Mayor of Staten Island. Someone should tell him that Staten Island’s population accounts for less than 10% of the entire city and that he does in fact have to gain at least some support in the other four boroughs as well.

  • But on current form, would you want to see Joe Lhota’s idea of how to shake up the campaign? I’ve a nasty feeling it could be pretty grim.

  • I’ve spotted the Staten Island thing. It’s like his polling people have put a zero too many on the Forgotten Borough’s population.

  • Voter

    This garbage has real consequences. It’s irresponsible talk like this that causes communities that are already a tad wary about accepting bike and pedestrian safety projects to accept them even less. This should not be acceptable, least of all from a Republican who has wasted no opportunity to explain how we’re ALL GOING TO DIE if Bill de Blasio is elected mayor

    So thanks, Joe Lhota, for ensuring that the people of these communities will continue to suffer the consequences of dangerous streets.

  • Mark Walker

    I was predisposed to at least listen to Lhota due to his MTA background (however brief) but he is working remarkably hard to avoid getting my vote. I don’t trust Blaz any farther than I can throw him but this neanderthal is not a viable alternative.

  • This also legitimizes the Nimbys’ claim to be The Real Voice of the People, which in most cases they’re not.

    It’s very unfortunate.

  • Ian H

    Great headline! It gave me a great, big laugh this afternoon.

  • Anonymous

    Yah, he should’ve been like “what would Jay Walder do?” and he would’ve gotten a lot more support. Transit issues are messy and if you demonstrate an expertise, then that’s a real advantage (policy and electoral).

    But yah, if you’re the former head of the MTA, and you make clueless and erroneous statements like he has, then he deserves to lose and lose badly.

    NY’ers will elect Republican mayors. It’s not a problem. Joe’s just a really shitty candidate (though, not as bad as Cats — his campaign was performance art)

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Maybe Lhota wasn’t paying attention during Mayor Bloomberg’s agenda-settingPlaNYC speech in 2007.”

    There is a lot more Lhota doesn’t remember. The Giuliani Administration for example. Wasn’t he a Deputy Mayor at the time?

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bike/cwbm.shtml

    Ahem: “The New York City Bike Map is a free bike map that the city produces each year and shows the network of existing and planned bicycle lanes, routes, and greenways…The Bronx and Staten Island editions of the bicycling map were the first to be released in 1997, and in 1998, maps for all five boroughs were produced. Eventually, the individual borough maps were combined into one single map.”

    Planned bike routes? Who came up with that plan, and who approved it?

    That’s right, it started in the Giuliani Administration, though no one gives that administration credit or blame depending on your bikelash politics. Lhota, if he wanted to, could have claimed this mantle and bashed DeBlasio’s flip flopping on the issue. Perhaps after the election, someone should ask him why he didn’t.

  • Joe Enoch

    “Lhota was speaking on Sunday at the Flatbush Jewish Community Relations Council” — perhaps he was just pandering?

  • @Ari – Maybe another “Kill the Subway Kittens” press conference?

  • krstrois

    I had never seen that photo so thank you for that.

  • Anonymous

    Lhota knows damn well what he’s doing — those audiences are going to believe him no matter what lies he tells. Fortunately there are not enough of them.

  • Anonymous

    Grand Prospect Hall? Making all your dreams come true?

  • Anonymous

    Hey, maybe Eastern Queens and Staten Island will succeed and make Rudy and him co-emperors.

  • Joe R.

    I live in Eastern Queens and there’s no way I would vote for him. About the only positive thing in his campaign is his desire to expand the subway. Realistically, that’s probably not going to happen anyway, so he brings nothing to the table for me.

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