Corey’s New Ride: Speaker Johnson Has Talked the Talk, Now He’s Biking the Bike
The city’s second most powerful official is now the city’s First Cyclist.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson — well known as a pedestrian and a Citi Bike user — took the plunge over the weekend and finally bought himself a bike.
Here’s the 38-year-old Manhattanite’s sweet new ride at B’s Bike Shop in Greenpoint before he picked it up:
Photos of Johnson enjoying his weekend bike rides, and further details about the bike, were not provided, but the man’s glee was apparent.
“I just picked it up!” he DM’d a Streetsblog writer over the weekend.
Once the bliss had settled down, Johnson told us that his decision to get his own set of wheels was linked to the current pandemic.
“Coronavirus has changed everything in our city, including how we exercise, what we do for fun, and how we get around,” he said. “I’ve been taking walks and it’s helped me get through this hard time. I figured the next step up was a bike. I’ll get to experience even more of the city I love this way.”
Johnson, of course, has long argued that New York needs to “break the car culture” if it is to survive in an era of climate change; rising congestion caused by online shopping and the rise of Uber and Lyft; and the death of at least 200 people every year to road violence. The current crisis has only strengthened his resolve, he said.
“It’s clear we need to use this pandemic to re-evaluate what we know about shared spaces and how we get around the five boroughs,” he said. “All of us will need to recommit to mass transit, biking, walking, and sustainable transportation options during and after this crisis if we want to build a more livable, more resilient city for a post-coronavirus world.”
It won’t take long for activists to reach out to Johnson to demand he go on two-wheeled fact-finding tours. Even before anyone knew of the Speaker’s new mode of transportation, residents of Queens were inviting him to visit Flushing Meadows Corona “Park,” which has earned ironic quotation marks because of the number of cars that despoil Queens’s main green space.
How can there not be a connector between these 2? Please @NYCSpeakerCoJo come for a ride, or I'll power walk with you from #corona or #Jacksonheights Once you see, you'll change it. We're any #bikenyc advocates asked about these plans?
— Make Queens Safer (@MakeQueensSafer) May 4, 2020
Johnson, of course, is not the first mayoral hopeful to be seen on a bike. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams often rides around the borough. But City Comptroller Scott Stringer has not been spotted on a bike.
Perhaps that makes Stringer more qualified for the city’s top office; Mayor de Blasio has refused all offers to take a ride with activists, and has been spotted on a bike only twice during his mayoralty: once to launch a bike share program in the Rockaways and once on an impromptu ride in Prospect Park after a press conference (photo right with Adams and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, a regular rider).
But the leaders of many of the world’s great cities — including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, former Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, and pretty much every mayor of every city in Holland — bike, and in a waterfront city struggling with congestion, riding a bike could be seen as giving a candidate a leg up.
After all, he got the mayor to agree to his “streets master plan” bill last year, championed more space for pedestrians and cyclists, advocated for victims of road violence — all before he bought a bike.
In the end, Johnson didn’t link his riding to his campaigning, but did make one part of his personal journey part of his political one, too.
“I want to thank B’s Bike Shop in Greenpoint for all their help. I’m glad we pushed for bike shops to be essential businesses,” he said.