Meet Anna Luten, Amsterdam’s Bicycle Mayor


At Transportation Alternatives’ Vision Zero Cities conference yesterday, I got to spend a few minutes speaking with Anna Luten about her job as Amsterdam’s first “bicycle mayor” — a sort of ambassador, spokesperson, and inter-agency operative for bicycling in her city.

I wondered if creating a similar role here in New York could be helpful.

Should NYC have a bicycle mayor? What would the job look like here? Who would you nominate? Most people I spoke to thought it would be an excellent idea. Take a look:

  • Vooch


    NYC isn’t ready.

    no bicycle mayor for NYC. This would just ghettoize cycling in NYC. The bureaucrats would simply push everything onto the bike mayor to further stall progress.

    What NYC needs is another couple of years steady growth to expand the cycling population and further normalize cycling.

    We are very close to a tipping point in attitudes towards cycling. Lower Manhattan already has cycling traffic jams during rush hour which is a great sign of progress. The expansion of Citibike this season plus the critical tweaks to the PBL network being installed in 2017 will expand cycling far beyond any of our dreams in Manhattan.

    Citibike is going to exceed 80,000 daily trips by Labor Day.

  • Well you aren’t ready. But plenty love the idea.

  • Vooch

    I’ll go with the flow. Whatever TA decides I’ll support 🙂

    as for mayors – why not JSK ?

    JSK for mayor

  • Well if you are talking real mayors – I mean JSK, who wouldn’t want that!

  • Vooch

    Yes – Now we are talking

  • Kevin Love

    I believe that Steve Vaccaro really hit the nail on the head here. Building proper cycling infra involves so many different agencies to effectively cooperate that a strong leader is required to pull everything together. A strong leader with the clout to impose real consequences upon bad actors who are recalcitrant or actively obstructive. Yes, here’s looking at you, NYPD.

    Let’s face the reality of human nature: if nobody is in charge then it is difficult to get anything done.

  • Rop Thom

    Seriously, I would nominate lots of people. Do it like they did in Amsterdam, have an on-line competition, final four or five go to a special event where they each do a presentation and a committee selects the final winner! It’d be a good thing for NYC to have a Public Advocate Bike Mayor. Even if they have no power, they could constantly be talking and making appearances on behalf of cyclists.

  • Having a City official in charge of bike policy would certainly not ghettoise bicycling! It would do just the opposite: it would elevate the importance of bike-related issues.

    But even better than one operative whould be a full-time Department of Bicycling in the City government, with a commissioner and full staff. This department would be in charge not only of installation of bike lanes, but also of their maintenence, as constant re-painting is necessary in order to keep our bike lanes visible. It would also be in charge of enforcement, with the power to tow away any vehicle that is parked in a bike lane.

    What’s more, the DOT should probably be subsumed into a Department of Bicycling, becoming a sub-unit. This would send the clear message that the policy of this City going forward is to create a more just and more healthy distribution of street space, one which prioritises and promotes bicycling, and which discourages driving.

  • Jesse

    I would nominate Steve Vaccaro for the position actually. No joke.

  • Vooch

    Good points but for me I don’t want cycling to become just another special interest group. I am afraid a Bike Mayor would reinforce the idea that cycling is abnormal.


  • Kevin Love

    I would second that nomination. Steve Vaccaro has the skills to transform NYPD. All he needs is the power and the authority.

  • Vooch

    Steve is awesome but if he is bike mayor who will be establishing accountability in the courts ?

    Steve V. has doggedly created a change in the judicial culture regarding traffic violence.

  • Vooch

    Love the idea of having the DOT become the DOB.

    because our goal should be the normalization of cycling.

    (but then people who wear shorts in the dead of winter might have to get some long pants 🙂

  • AMH

    Speaking as someone who has worked on too many projects where nobody is in charge, you’re absolutely right–without leadership, NOTHING gets done.

  • Not negotiable!

  • Vooch



The Bicycle Uprising, Part 5

This is the concluding installment of a five-part series looking back at the victory over the Midtown bike ban, 25 years ago. Read parts one, two, three and four for an overview of the bike ban, the advocacy of the 1970s and 80s, and my recounting of the activism that followed the uprising against the ban. Activists are […]