Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

A Brief History of New York City Mayors on Bicycles

Mayor de Blasio is very rarely seen on a bike, but he certainly enjoyed this protected bike lane. Cyclists want more. Photo: Eric Phillips

Mayor de Blasio was in the Rockaways this morning to announce the first of four dockless bike-share pilot areas. We'll be running reader reviews of the different services on offer -- stay tuned. For now, the big news is that six months into his second term, de Blasio has finally been spotted riding a bicycle.

The mayor biked the last leg of his trip to the press conference, side by side with Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

Based on the footage reporters posted to Twitter, de Blasio acquitted himself well on a Pace bike, despite what appears to be a seatpost set a little too low for his 6'5" frame (which might be the highest setting available). I personally approve of the decision to go helmetless on a hot summer day biking on a nearly empty boardwalk.

While it took a few years to reach this moment, congratulations are in order. De Blasio is the first New York mayor since Ed Koch to be recorded riding a bicycle, or at least the first one to leave a record that Google image search is capable of retrieving.

There are a few images on the internet of Mayor Bloomberg on a bicycle, but you can't find one where he's pedaling. Rudy Giuliani and David Dinkins, meanwhile, do not appear in the same frame as a bicycle in any online photo.

You have to go back 38 years, to this grainy black and white photograph of Ed Koch ringing in the short-lived Sixth Avenue protected bike lane in October 1980, to see another mayor caught in the act of bicycling.

Mayor Ed Koch in October 1980.
Mayor Ed Koch in October 1980.
Mayor Ed Koch in October 1980.

Abe Beame apparently wasn't a bike mayor -- this is the closest thing to a picture of him with a bicycle.

But John Lindsay, mayor during the first Earth Day in 1970 and responsible for the first car-free hours in Central Park, gave posterity this beautiful photograph:

But de Blasio is definitely the most photogenic mayor on a bike since Lindsay. This is going to be hard to beat.

— Streetsblog New York (@StreetsblogNYC) July 13, 2018

Next step for de Blasio: Riding a bike on the street with traffic. The mayor's on a roll this week bike policy-wise, but there's nothing like experiencing the stresses of New York City cycling first hand to make you a believer in the need for better bike infrastructure and an all-out effort to get cops out of bike lanes.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Komanoff: A ‘Noise Tax’ Can Ground NYC Helicopters

A proposed $400 “noise tax” on “nonessential” flights is a start — and it will work.

April 18, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Welcome to the War on Cars, Scientific American

Our favorite story yesterday was this editorial in an unexpected place. Plus other news.

April 18, 2024

Meet the MTA Board Member and Congestion Pricing Foe Who Uses Bridges and Tunnels For Free Every Day

Mack drives over the transportation authority's bridges and tunnels thanks to a rare perk of which he is the primary beneficent.

April 18, 2024

Randy Mastro Aspires to Join Mayor’s Inner Circle of Congestion Pricing Foes

The mayor's reported pick to run the city Law Department is former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani and notorious foe of bike lanes and congestion pricing.

April 18, 2024

Donald Shoup: Here’s a Parking Policy That Works for the People

Free parking has a veneer of equality, but it is unfair. Here's a proposal from America's leading parking academic that could make it more equitable.

April 18, 2024
See all posts