Uber Makes the Case for NYC Cyclists to Download Lyft

It’s hard to make livable streets advocates take the same side of an issue as the taxi medallion industry, but Uber’s general manager in New York, Josh Mohrer, is giving it his best shot.

In a Q&A with Kevin Roose about Uber’s clash with City Hall, Mohrer completely flubbed his chance to make a pitch for congestion pricing or Donald Shoup-inspired curbside parking reform as the alternative to a cap on new for-hire vehicles.

If it’s not limiting new Ubers on the road, what should New York be doing about congestion?

Well, first of all, the mayor’s never cared about congestion before. It’s kind of a new thing for him. But if I were mayor and congestion was my top priority, I would think about: why are 2.7 million people coming into the city every day in their own car? What is behind that? And what are the real reasons for congestion? We’re all ordering on Amazon, and UPS and FedEx trucks are double-parked during the day? I love Amazon, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have it. But maybe it’s impacting congestion. Or bike lanes, which I love! But that’s one less lane of traffic.

Bike lane scapegoating from a company whose professed intent is to upend private car ownership. Another ingenious PR moment for Uber, whose NYC customer base must include many thousands of people who also make trips by bike.

Blaming a safety improvement like bike lanes for congestion is emblematic of the farcical public debate about Uber in New York right now. Rethinking the for-hire vehicle industry should be an opportunity to put big ideas on the table. But instead of talking about what we want from our streets and transportation system, we’re having a big shouting match about what’s responsible for traffic and congestion.

City Hall, Uber, and even Streetsblog have played into this framing of the problem. I think we can do better, and tomorrow I’ll post some thoughts about how to reframe the discussion.

In the meantime, I’m downloading Lyft.

  • Andres Dee

    When Segway launched, they included an app on their website that let you calculate how much faster you’d get places if you took a Segway instead of walk.

  • Joe R.

    I’m trying to figure out how to PM you. I didn’t see any way to do it through Disqus.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    FB ?

  • Miles Bader

    Look at pictures of places with lots of urban cyclists… there are clearly way more than one every half-block (regardless of how you define block).

    If the bicycles are going somewhat slowly, which is often the case in dense urban locations, they can be packed in quite closely. So to some degree it’s self-regulating: in less-dense areas, where there are often longer distances to be covered, you’ll probably find higher bicycle speeds and less dense packing of cyclists; in denser areas you’ll probably find slower speeds and denser packing.

  • Miles Bader

    Many Tokyo train lines handle a million or more passengers a day, on a single dual track (one each direction) and approximately 20 operating hours.

    [The Yamanote line has a daily ridership of 3.7 million passengers / day, on a single dual-track line, but as it’s a circular line with many extremely popular intermediate stations, so it’s likely that many trips occur on non-overlapping segments.]

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Über Dude,

    like when are you going to support MoveNY and protected bike lanes ?

    the best way to reduce congestion and help your drivers are reducing CBD traffic by 10% ( MoveNY ) and removing even more cars from avenues ( protected bike lanes )

    A 6′ bike lane carries more traffic than a 12′ motor lane in the CBD.

    bikes are between 10-25% of roadway traffic in the CBD – don’t you agree that devoting 7% of roadway space to protected bike lane helps your drivers ?

  • Josh Mohrer

    We publicly support MoveNY. Lets connect offline to discuss how we can help more (josh at uber). I said this publicly on CNBC on Wednesday morning.

  • Bolwerk

    I remember the original version of that. Who added 2012?

  • ahwr


    Click on the graphic and it links to an updated one with 2012. I assume threestationsquare updated it.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Dude !

    you are like halfway there

  • William Farrell

    It’s quite incredible that someone in the business of transportation could sincerely believe that more lanes will result in less congestion.

  • Charlie

    Don’t forget those pesky sidewalks. Those could be more lanes for cars too!

  • Reinaldo Hahn

    what if NYC implemented some sort of surveillance-based tariff system capable of robo-fining any (licensed) motorized vehicle found to be illegally obstructing a bike lane? the technology is there, non? Although I’m sure many pedestrians would demand equal ‘ticket revenue’ fom sidewalk cyclists and ‘boarders, robo-fining illegal bike lane-blockers could be enacted without Cuomo’s blessing (I think), and would generate serious benjamin$ for future infrastructure projects…

  • Abie



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