And the “Weiner Award” for Courting the Bikelash Vote Goes to… Bo Dietl

Ripping up bike lanes wasn't a winning message in 2009 or 2013. Will this be the year it scores at the polls?


The Republican contest to go up against Mayor Bill de Blasio is barely underway and candidates are already competing to stake out the most retrograde positions on streets and transportation policy.

Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis recently attacked speed enforcement cameras as “a gimmick to raise revenue,” despite evidence that speeding, the leading cause of fatal crashes in NYC, drops dramatically where cameras are deployed.

And ex-cop/Fox News personality Bo Dietl got the “biggest applause by far” at a Wednesday evening Republican forum when he declared he would “rip out bike lanes” and suggested “doing [the] same with Times Square plazas,” according to Times reporter J. David Goodman.

The Observer’s Madina Toure reported last night that Dietl said “he’s learning how to drive a bulldozer and would take out the bike lanes if elected.”

Apparently, Dietl’s hatred of car-free spaces and bike-riding New Yorkers was even more popular with forum attendees than his story about being treated harshly by a judge who “looked like Chirlane de Blasio” (referring to the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray), which reportedly got laughs from the room. Dietl has spent the day trying to contain the fallout from his Trumpian remarks about McCray.

But a room full of Republican primary voters isn’t representative of the NYC electorate. If Dietl’s going to go full bikelash, he’s out of touch with most New Yorkers there, too. Things tend to not work out well for would-be mayors who pick fights with the all-powerful bike lobby.

  • nanter

    Looks like that fat f could stand to ride a bike a bit.

  • Vooch

    it’s great that the loser candidates are bike haters. Easy for winner candidates to compare and contrast

  • Like Trump, Dietl is frozen in some Tom Wolfe/”Bonfire of the Vanities” version of New York circa 1987. It’s quite remarkable how these men remain so out of touch with their city. “Real New Yorkers” who hate New York, essentially.

  • No great, actually. It allows the winning candidate to take soft positions because all he or she has to do is stake out a position that’s better than “Don’t rip sh*t out.” Let’s hope we reach a day when we have a crop of candidates who are each trying to outdo each other on who can be more bike friendly.

  • Vooch

    good counterargument when it’s good vs. good candidate.

    but when it’s a complete loser gadfly, then good candidate will want to support contrary positions

  • Larry Littlefield

    And they say there is no bi-partisanship left in this country.

    “Richard A. “Bo” Dietl (born December 4, 1950).”

    There is your problem right there. At this point the only people I’m willing to vote for who were born before 1970 are those who provide convincing proof they give a damn about those born after 1970. Being a bicycle commuter would help.

    This shows how we’re screwed. If the alternative to our Tammy Hall Dems is this crowd, then the interests that control things here can do to us whatever they damn well want. And they just can’t help themselves.

    Anyone who didn’t vote for non-partisan elections having second thoughts?

  • Joe R.

    I was thinking the same thing.

  • Joe R.

    NYC needs a viable two (or more)-party system but so long as the Republicans keep putting forth clowns like this that’s not going to happen.

    Why can’t the GOP give us a fiscally conservative, socially liberally, pro-environmental candidate who might take on the unions as well? I’d vote for such a person in a heartbeat. I’d run as such a candidate if I thought I had a hope of getting in (which I don’t).

    If fact, why don’t you run for Mayor? Seeing how Trump got in with both the media and most of his party against him you might even have a shot. Anti-establishment candidates seem to be the thing nowadays.

  • kevd

    “Why can’t the GOP give us a fiscally conservative, socially liberally, pro-environmental candidate”

    Because those ideas are anathema to the Republican party.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Why can’t the GOP give us a fiscally conservative, socially liberally, pro-environmental candidate who might take on the unions as well?”

    We had one.

    Then he decided he wanted to run for re-election, and handed out special refund checks to homeowners, who already get a massive property tax break.

    And cut a deal to make the unions happy by paying for bigger than affordable wage increases for police and fire by cutting the pay of new hires to $25,000 per year.

    Then he decided he might want to run for President, so he suddenly handed NYC teachers — who had been promised retirement at age 62 after 30 years of work a full pension at age 55 after 25 years of work, and claimed the change “cost nothing.” (Just like Lindsay, who also wanted to run for President).

    Then he decided he wanted to stay Mayor, and got term limits extended. At least he was able to fix numbers one and four and partially fix number two. Number three — forget it — just screwed the newbie.

    Giuliani did some good things too — for about the first 2 1/2 years he was in.

  • Joe R.

    Probably this makes the case for one-term limits, at least for Mayor. Get in, do what’s best for the city, get out. The second terms of all Mayors seem to be where the bad stuff happens (the deals you mentioned, Guiliani’s quality of life policing gone amok, etc.).

  • Larry Littlefield

    It’s actually in election years that the bad stuff seems to happen.

    Now you’d think that politicians would do deals with already privileged interests BETWEEN elections, but feel pressure to do something of the general public and the common future in election years, when the people are paying attention.

    Instead the reality is that almost no one is paying attention to what actually happens at all. Some of the politicians might try to do the right thing when the special interests aren’t in a position to hurt them or help them, but election years are deal time (although some of the sellouts are timed for right after the election).

    God Help Us if DeBlasio and Cuomo decide to run for President in 2020, or even think about it. They’ll need someone’s future to sell to pick up special interest support and campaign contributions elsewhere, and ours is the only one they will have available.

  • Let’s not get too cocky. It’s not just loony Republican goofballs who carry the anti-bike message, as the mention of Anthony Weiner should remind us. Indeed, if Weiner hadn’t self-destructed, he’d be running as an anti-bike Democrat.

    A Democrat could garner broad support by appealing to the contempt in which bicyclists are held within the general public. He or she would have the support of practitioners of the pseudoscience of traffic engineering who would argue, by means of circular reasoning, that bike lanes are harmful to the City. And, if such a candidate were to pop up and get some coverage, de Blasio would be quick to backpedal (metaphor chosen intentionally) on bicycle infrastructure, and to concede that some bike lanes could indeed be removed. He’d surely remind everyone of his critiques of Sadik-Khan when he was Public Advocate. And just like that, the entire range of debate will have shifted.

    While the guy in this story is a clown, the mayoral candidate who can take the “rip out the bike lanes” message and run with it will emerge eventually. And we’re not going to like how that story plays out.

  • Joe R.

    I don’t think either of them are viable candidates on the national stage. DeBlasio is way too socially liberal. Also, as much as I hate to say this the color of his wife wouldn’t play well in the South. Yes, Obama carried some southern states but the animus towards interracial marriage down south runs quite a bit stronger than any lingering prejudice towards blacks.

    As for Cuomo, at times it seems he’s screwing over NYC precisely to position himself as a (somewhat viable) Presidential candidate but again I don’t think he carries enough national appeal. He’s not going to get enough of the Republicrats to win a general election. He’lldo much better than DeBlasio nationally for sure, but I doubt he would even win the primary. Unless of course the DNC decided to make the same mistake with him as they did with Clinton by essentially coronating him. We all see how well that went. If that happens, be ready for four more years of Trump.

  • HamTech87

    Agreed. Look at the anti-PPW folks — all Democrats. If liberals easily won elections, then Mark Green and Ruth Messinger would have both been mayor.

    If Dietl starts creating stunts and saying ‘look at all the empty bike lane’, it will get ugly. Let’s hope someone like Casey Neistat takes an interest in Dietl to show how wrong he is.

  • Brad Aaron

    Well aware. I wrote this post in part because IMO there is no such thing as a “clown” candidate anymore.

    The bike-hating Dem you speak of — Bill Thompson ran on an anti-bike platform and almost knocked off Bloomberg.

  • Flakker

    There are no “good” candidates is the problem. There is de Blasio who is in theory in agreement with us on street safety but in reality is a lifestyle motorist who doesn’t care about it that much. His consistent theme is legacy-building initiatives that are outside of Cuomo’s ability to squash. This has led to very dumb policy

  • Vooch

    Hillary ?

  • snrvlakk

    Do we all recall Kelly Ann Conway’s offhand remark that New Yorkers aren’t scared of a Trump presidency, they’re scared of bikelanes? So, it would appear that the Republican consensus is to get rid of bikelanes. I’m struck by the report that the supposedly rational Republican, Malliotakis, is as interested in facts and evidence about road & traffic issues as the GOP generally seems to be about climate change, deficit reduction, foreign policy, and just about every weighty policy question. And it is illuminating that Manhattan Republicans, portrayed in mainstream media as the last bastion of reason & moderation in the party (only county in NY Trump lost in the primary–to Kasich) gave their “biggest applause by far” to the Trumpian clown candidate when he promised to rip out the bike lanes. Look at the last century in NYC–LaGuardia, Lindsay, Giuliani, Bloomberg. We will have another Republican mayor soon enough. And then, brothers & sisters, look out.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Thompson — also got NYC’s pension funds into hedge funds.

    So they could lie about what all those retroactive pension increases cost for a few more years, delaying (but vastly inflating) that cost until they were collecting tax-free pensions. For assistance in that like the NYC pension funds paid the hedge funds a 2 percent fee PER YEAR plus 20 percent of all gains — with tax increases and service cuts to make that up.

    And our alternative is these kinds of clowns. It’s all Generation Greed.


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