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A Brief History of New York City Mayors on Bicycles

2:02 PM EDT on July 13, 2018

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.

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.

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