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Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson Talks Bike Lanes on Brian Lehrer

10:28 AM EDT on March 24, 2011

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, sender of this week's memo on "Office of the Mayor" letterhead defending the city's bike policy, should be on the air at WNYC momentarily. This is the follow-up to yesterday's segment with Jim Walden, who's suing the city on behalf of Prospect Park West bike lane opponents.

Update: Here are some slightly paraphrased notes of Wolfson's responses.

"The truth is bike lanes are popular in New York City. Polls show people want them... In this city it is impossible to make change without upsetting some people."

Mentions Q poll showing 54 percent support for bike lanes, 39 percent opposition: "If you had a political candidate who won by 15 points in an election, you'd call it a landslide."

On the Prospect Park West opponents: "In this instance they've hired an outstanding attorney to engage in a legal process. If we let the threat of lawsuits deter us from heeding the will of the majority of the people, change would never happen. The DOT did nothing wrong, and I am quite confident in the outcome of the legal process."

"The memo is an attempt to get the facts out, and I think it's incumbent on me and everyone in the administration to make sure people know the truth. Based on what they read in the papers, they wouldn't know that there's been 40 community board votes in support of bike lanes. You would think reading these accounts that there are bike lanes going up on every street in the dead of night, and that's not true."

"The mayor is foursquare behind the commissioner."

"It's about providing choices to New Yorkers. We want to make sure that when they choose to go by bike, they're going to be safe. Bike lanes make streets safer for everyone."

Question from caller about irrational NYPD enforcement of bikes. It seems at odds with the city's policy of encouraging cycling. Response: "Everyone who uses our streets needs to obey the traffic safety laws. I agree as a pedestrian, you are much more likely to be killed by cars than a bike, but at the same time, bike riders need to obey the law. Just like if you're driving a car, you'll get ticketed."

Question from caller about Schumer and Weinshall's role in Prospect Park West opposition. Is this all sour grapes? Response: "I had the privilege of working for Chuck when he ran against D'Amato. I don't ascribe malevolent motives to people in this debate. I am willing to concede that people oppose bike lanes for sincere reasons. I think they're wrong, but I don't want to ascribe bad motives to anyone."

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