NYers Not Sold on Notion That Livable Streets Are Wrecking Economy


Here’s a chart breaking down New York Times exit poll results from the mayoral election.

What sticks out to us is not so much that 3 percent of voters rated transportation as the "one issue" that mattered most to them, since many who participated could care a great deal about transportation and you wouldn’t know it. Notice instead how Bloomberg dominated the issue of economy and jobs, even in this terrible downturn, despite Thompson’s attempts to portray livable streets improvements as assaults on small businesses.

Obviously, despite the low level of interest indicated here, transportation matters. Otherwise pols wouldn’t drone on about the MTA ad nauseam. But what do these numbers tell you?

  • But what do these numbers tell you?

    That we have a lot of work to do. Transportation is tied into each of those other choices, and if New Yorkers don’t realize it, they will get a transit network that doesn’t suit the needs of the city. I know not everyone is going to care as much as I – or most Streetsblog readers – do. But that 3% figure is disturbingly low.

  • This Poll is Stupid

    Not much.

    A better poll would have had people rank them in importance, but this is just silly newspaper stuff. But Mr. Kabak is right: transportation – and many of these other topics – are interconnected. It is hard to separate one from the other.

  • As Benjamin points out, transport is tied into the other choices. No one’s mentioned Thompson’s one clear area of strength: housing. His campaign made a big point of talking about affordable housing. Bloomberg talked about it too but clearly Thompson’s message resonated more. If he had been elected and acted on this, it would have been interesting to see if the housing were transit-oriented or just another parking-centric crypto-suburban boondoggle.

  • Free public transit would be a tremendous boost for small business. They would have better access to the labor market, their delivery trucks could get in and out more easily, customers would not have to fight for parking, etc. We need free transit and the gradual elimination of the car… then the streets will be liveable!

  • I think you guys are really stretching to connect Thompson’s loss to Livable Streets issues.

    I would never have voted for Bloomberg despite some terrific Livable Streets initiatives, because of his overturning of term limits, his unyielding support for Atlantic Yards and Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, the Coney Island fiasco, etc., etc.

    Still, I couldn’t vote for Thompson because of his (stated) opposition to some of those same important Livable Streets initiatives, and his (less enthusiastic) support for Atlantic Yards.

    So I voted for Billy Talen.

    But I don’t think the Livable Streets things were very important to the vast majority of voters. Bloomberg spent an absurd amount of money and still almost lost, because people were pissed about term limits. Thompson couldn’t beat him despite that because he was a weak candidate and didn’t hammer at Bloomberg’s greatest vulnerabilities.

    The election didn’t turn over bike lanes or Times Square.

  • Ian Turner

    The fact that civil rights (including the term limits change) did not make this list makes the whole thing highly suspect.

  • J:Lai

    This poll, to the extent it indicates anything (not much), indicates that transportation issues are a lower priority for most voters. “Livable Streets” is even lower than transportation, as almost no one even knows what that is.

    This says that it is wishful thinking to believe that candidates in a city wide election are going to have a platform with a signficant focus on transportation – not enough people care.

  • Nick

    Bloomberg did exceptionally well on Staten Island, getting 70% of the vote. This was despite some very unpopular traffic initiatives like the installation of bike lanes in neighborhoods where absolutely nobody requested or wanted them. All the lanes did was make traffic worse. So I also think it was a non-issue.

    But now that the election is over I think many of the dedicated bike lanes (like on North Railroad and South Railroad Avenues) will be eliminated. The “share the road” bike lanes are less of a problem.

    BTW, 59% (29,553) of Bloomberg’s 50,342 vote margin of victory was on Staten Island.

  • Nick, according to the city bike map, N and S Railroad Aves don’t have dedicated bike lanes, just sharrows. Is the map wrong?

  • Ian Turner

    Nick, the way I read it is that it was a highly partisan election, with Democratic parts of the electorate voting for the democratic ticket, and republicat parts of the electorate voting for the republican one. The ballot is set up to make this kind of voting easy to do, and not by accident is it thus.



  • Nick

    Mike, North and South Railroad Aves have dedicated bike lanes from Beach Avenue to Jefferson Avenue. That includes New Dorp Plaza North and South.
    South Railroad from Beach Ave to Guyon Ave has the “share the road” signage with the bike image and arrows.

    Ian, I just thought that even for a republican borough it’s unusual to see such a big chunk of Bloomy’s victory marging coming from the city’s least populous borough.


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