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Anthony Weiner

Seriously, Why Is Anthony Weiner So Terrified of Bike Lanes?

3:14 PM EDT on April 6, 2011

If Anthony Weiner has anything in common with his mentor Chuck Schumer, it is that he thrives on attention. And now that he's created a niche for himself on the national stage as the unapologetic, in-your-face liberal congressman from Noo Yawk, he's apparently gained a following of disaffected young Democrats who don't necessarily feel represented by yellow dogs and centrist softies.

Weiner. Photo: adsf/Flickr

But as Reid Pillifant notes in his incisive Observer profile, for all the choreographed kookiness and "Oh no he didn't" one-liners, the man who would be mayor goes all squishy on an issue that should be the unquestionable province of any worth-his-salt progressive. When he isn't flat-out "ducking" (his word) questions on this particular topic, here's what the brash Mr. Weiner has to say:

"Are bike lanes a progressive thing? I know a lot of very progressive people who were very pissed off at the bike lane in their neighborhood ... I do believe that I'm pro-bike like a lot of New Yorkers are. I do hear a lot of New Yorkers say to me, 'I love bikes, I bike all the time,' or whatever it is, 'But damn these f'ing bike lanes' ... That's a weird place for us to be. That means that people who would be naturally part of a constituency are getting peeled away because they don't feel something is right."

"I do believe that I'm pro-bike." That clear enough for you?

If not, there are other Democrats who have a more developed sense of self. In Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has pledged to build out 100 miles of protected bike lanes during his first term as mayor. And Weiner's colleague from Portland Earl Blumenauer has for years been an outspoken proponent of cycling and sustainable transport in general. "It's all about choice," he recently told Grist. "In too many communities, people have to burn a gallon of gas to buy a gallon of milk. That's not freedom. That's tyranny."

See? It's not that hard to say it in a soundbite. How can a few lanes for bicycles be the source of such fretful vacillation for a pol who represents a city where over half the population does not own cars?

Back in 2009, when Blumenauer biked the city with the Streetfilms crew, we asked: "When will we get to see a rep from New York City walk, bike, or ride the bus with Clarence?" You can still be the one, Congressman Weiner. Just imagine the airtime.

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