Glenn Beck’s Advice to de Blasio: “Lose the Stupid Bike Lanes”

America’s favorite right-wing conspiracy theorist has some advice for Mayor-elect de Blasio.

The Observer asked people they deemed to be “influential” New Yorkers for a short piece of advice for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Of the 57 members of what the Observer calls “the peanut gallery,” 14 had something to say about transportation.

If nothing else, it’s good for some insight into what New York’s drive-everywhere class (or, in many cases, the driven-everywhere class) thinks of pedestrian plazas and bike lanes.

Not that everyone on the Observer’s list is a cars-first curmudgeon — there are a lot of good ideas in there. But here are the cranky ones who just want city streets to live up to the car commercial fantasy:

  • Glenn Beck: “Lose the stupid bike lanes on the streets, and worry less about my fat intake.”
  • Writer Jay McInerney: “Reopen Broadway around Times Square. Get rid of the concrete islands/turning lanes on Eighth, Ninth and all other avenues — one thing Bloomberg didn’t fix was traffic flow.”
  • New York Times columnist Frank Rich: “A pet peeve: Reconfigure Times Square so it might be a true Crossroads of the World again rather than a hideous quasi-food court for idling suburban tourists.”
  • Talk show host Wendy Williams: “Open Herald Square back up to traffic. Fix the potholes… And get rid of these bicycles! They’re in the way, taking up too much room.”
  • Bhairavi Desai, executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance: “Recognize that taxi drivers are central to the transportation system. That means not replacing us with bike lanes or denying us access to bus lanes…”
  • Soho NIMBY extraordinaire Sean Sweeney: “The city… must cease catering to realtors, tourists, chain stores and cycling zealots.”

Don’t despair — some prominent New Yorkers have good suggestions that range from the simple to the inspired:

WNYC host Brian Lehrer lays out how transportation could fit into de Blasio’s agenda.

  • NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan: “New York needs better infrastructure — better roads, better bike lanes, better subways, better airport trains, better airports, faster buses, healthier bridges. It requires some political courage for a politician to commit to something that won’t show results for a decade, but that’s the sort of vision that will be critical.”
  • New York Fashion Week creator Fern Mallis: “I wish he’d do more about trucks double-parking and add more cabs without raising prices.”
  • Anne Fulenwider, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire: “I’d like better F train service on the weekends!”
  • Red Rooster chef/owner Marcus Samuelsson: “Harlem is evolving by leaps and bounds, so why aren’t we included in the places to install Citi Bikes? If we’re going to give urban America the same opportunities as the rest of the country, we need to provide the same amenities and healthy choices.”
  • Former EDC chief Seth Pinsky has a somewhat ironic suggestion: “Encourag[e] investment around underdeveloped transit nodes.”
  • Porn impresario Michael Lucas: “I want the mayor to continue along the path toward a quieter, more humane city. I want fewer private cars and more bicycles. I want pedestrian zones and crosstown trams. I want more green and less honking…I want a city that’s built for humans, not machines.”
  • WNYC host Brian Lehrer expanded on his questions for de Blasio last month: “When tackling inequality, don’t forget transportation. The Bloomberg era has seen higher housing prices close to Manhattan, therefore longer commute times for people gentrified into living further out. At the same time, many new jobs are not located along the inbound-outbound subway grid, so bus rapid transit is probably a key to future improvements in transit. There are other ways to improve transit too, but my advice: Physical mobility matters to social mobility.”

So, who is more in tune with progressive transportation policy, Glenn Beck or Brian Lehrer?

  • Mark Walker

    Mark Walker: “Empower the city’s car-free majority. Make all of Manhattan and substantial parts of the outer boroughs car-free. Implement strong traffic calming elsewhere. Send drivers who kill to jail, revoke their licenses permanently, and confiscate their vehicles so they can’t be used to kill again.”

  • Danny G

    Wow, when did Glenn Beck move to New York?

  • Joe R.

    I’ll second everything you wrote.

  • HamTech87

    You really see that the limo-driven class cares most about car speeds and potholes. If anything shows the class divide, it is these answers.

  • Well, at least we can take solace in the knowledge that if there’s one person whose advice de Blasio isn’t likely to take, it’s Glenn Beck.

  • Bolwerk

    Wow, the most insightful comment came from a mildly fascist gay pornographer. An attempt at guilt by association?

    Other than some selfish demands, no love for the subways from our lizard overlords, eh? Even from Lehrer, who made an otherwise insightful comment.

    P.S.. The only people who give a damn what Glenn Beck thinks probably spend their copious amounts of leisure time sitting on the floor batting their own poop around.

  • EricBoucher

    Pretty sure hes been here for a while. All the shows he has had in recent memory all film in New York.

  • f

    All the media personalities who hate cities and city folk live in or work in NYC. Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Anne Coulter…

  • qrt145

    I’m not surprised by the selfish and bike-hating remarks by some of the people you quoted, but I really don’t understand at all where Frank Rich is coming from. What’s so glamorous about having Times Square be nothing more than a perma-traffic jam? “Crossroads of the world”… give me a break!

  • And yet they completely ignore the data that shows that closing Broadway to traffic and creating pedestrian plazas has helped traffic flow, increased average traffic speed, and decreased average trip times. If they really cared about the needs of cars, they would be demanding more closures.

  • krstrois

    Reporters who work in Times Square are among the worst nostalgists for its old look. Loud megaphones, too, hélas.

  • krstrois

    hate-based life forms.

  • The Disneyfication of Times Square began under Giuliani and wouldn’t change even if you got rid of the pedestrian plaza tomorrow, barring some economic catastrophe or change in the law that allowed porn shops and strip clubs back on Broadway. Frank Rich may think that it is the plaza that attracted people to Times Square, but its really the changing fortunes of Times Square that made the need for safe space for pedestrians so urgent.

    And way to insult those “idling suburban tourists” who pump billions of dollars in the New York City economy. Why do these self-professed guardians of the real New York hate jobs for New Yorkers so much?

  • J_12

    I think the biggest positive take-away from this is that more people are starting to recognize how important transportation is to NYC. I have long felt that it is the most important single issue, but even if not everyone agrees, at least it is getting to the point where people see it on par with issues like crime+safety, schools, and taxes. It is certainly far more important than terrorism, by at least an order of magnitude.

    It’s true, as Pat Kiernan said, that investments in transportation infrastructure will have little impact on the time scale of a mayoral administration. But they are critical to keeping NYC’s status as one of the most desirable cities in the word in which to live and work over the long term.
    I think the subways get so little mention because it is very difficult for the mayor to have any direct influence over them given the structure of the MTA and its funding.

  • What does Wendy Williams and Glen Beck have in common? They’re both idiots.

  • JoshNY

    “Open Herald Square back up to traffic. … And get rid of
    these bicycles! They’re in the way, taking up too much room.”

    I don’t even… but… this makes me want to bang my head against a wall until my brain functions so poorly that this makes sense.

  • JoshNY

    And, unfortunately, this is also why most politicians won’t tackle this sort of challenge: it’s no help getting re-elected/elected to higher office to start a disruptive project that won’t be done in the short term. See also, notably, the halfassed new Tappan Zee Bridge we’re getting.

  • I’m kinda surprised that Wendy Williams didn’t say: Require all taxi drivers to wear 3 foot long hair extensions.

  • psw

    and who knew that Jay, man of letters, is a misogynist motorhead http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/02/the-juice-jay-mcinerney-review

  • Jim M.

    And neither live in New York City!

  • Jim M.

    Glenn Beck lives and hosts his radio show in Texas. He lived in NYC for years, but moved out maybe two years ago.

  • Joe Enoch

    Michael Lucas makes a lot of sense. Let’s have a city built for people, not machines! (unless of course we’re talking about sex machines!)

  • FrumpyDoo

    If I’m Glenn Beck, I’m thinking….”how can I make money on this issue?
    What is the best way to sell survival seeds, $378 mommy jeans or collectible gold coins to these yankees?”
    Glenn Beck is a real Texan ya’ll!

  • Ben Kintisch

    Ben Kintisch: Create a safer, quieter and healthier city by promoting cycling and walking as active transportation options. Prosecute vehicular violence with the same zeal as is shown for prosecution of other violent crimes. Try again for congestion pricing. Use city dollars to rapidly expand Citibike.

  • Andrew

    Mark Walker for mayor!

  • kevd

    I think Jim M. is right.
    Beck was here for a long time, and most of the work for his show is done here, but he made a big show of relocating himself to Texas.

  • • No way, we need those bike lanes so that the Agenda 21 black helicopters can have highly-visible places to land. Doesn’t this guy read his own fiction?

  • Bronxite

    This is definately a time for activism in the form of education. Whenever you hear someone spew some BS about transportation, correct them with statistical fact. Opposition to liveable streets improvements are ignorant to the real improvements they bring.

    Ignorant, hateful or stupid…kill ’em with knowledge.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I think that if you look at the age of the grump auto-firsters (4 of 6 born 1955 and earlier) and the age of those speaking up for transit, pedestrians, etc. you see where things are going.

    Lehrer and Mallis were ahead of their time.

  • Nathanael

    D. P. Lubic has been talking about the generational shift for a while.

  • Nathanael

    Jay McInerney doesn’t understand that closing Broadway at Times Square SPED UP AUTO TRAFFIC. (This is documented. It’s due to “Braess’s Paradox”. And it’s actually the reason why Broadway was closed off; if you read the initial plans and reports for it, JSK was doing it in order to speed up auto traffic, not in order to improve the pedestrian situation.)

  • BBnet3000

    No, he lived in Jersey iirc when he hosted the show in NYC. He considered the city “too dangerous”.

  • ? A reminder: Beck is the guy who wrote (well, had a ghost-writer pump out) a ridiculous sci-fi “novel” based on the idiotic Agenda 21 U.N. takeover conspiracy. I’m pretty sure he’s not at the top of the list of leading lights in urban planning.

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