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Bill de Blasio

Carpocalypse Now … And Forever?! Mayor de Blasio Cheers Phase 2 Traffic Jams

2:07 PM EDT on June 22, 2020

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Brooklyn Heights. Photo: Patch

Mayor de Blasio's well-known windshield perspective was on display Monday — as he evoked devotion to the automobile even as the carpocalypse returns to New York City.

“In a funny way, it’s reassuring to be in a traffic jam,” de Blasio responded when a reporter asked about the Department of Transportation’s possible plan to transform a car lane into a bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The comment comes after an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 New Yorkers — retail workers, hair salon employees, and some restaurant workers —  started going back to work amid the Phase II reopening of the city. Traffic surged this morning, according to journalists, commuters and transportation advocates.

“On my morning run, just after 7am, there were already huge traffic jams on Hamilton Avenue and the BQE, and the smog is coming back," Sarah Goodyear, cohost of the "War on Cars" podcast, tweeted. "@NYCMayor, you own this. All the lost time, all the asthma, all the heart disease, all of it. You could have made a plan. You dropped the ball.”

She wasn't alone in noticing the choking traffic. A CBS reporter reported, “a definite uptick in traffic at the Hudson River crossings,” while an ABC newsman sat in an incipient traffic jam on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Traffic statistics, meanwhile, showed that the influx of cars was already beginning last week during the Phase I reopening — up 24 percent on the East River bridge and 10 percent on the Harlem River bridges — on Thursday, June 18, compared to June 4.

De Blasio’s car-choked highway comment sparked outrage among transportation advocates and New Yorkers.

“Failure is a reassuring success, says the lazy and incompetent mayor.” tweeted Second Ave. Sagas — just one of a chorus of such opinions.

Regarding the question of adding a bike lane to the Brooklyn Bridge to relieve dangerous congestion of pedestrians and cyclists on the existing shared walk and bikeway, the mayor completely punted:

"I have not heard that previously," the mayor said, even though the announcement by a Department Of Transportation staffer had received extensive press coverage last week. "In a funny way, it's reassuring to be in a traffic jam again. But again, the future has got to be not about automobiles, but about mass transit. But the Brooklyn Bridge is – that one's a sensitive one because it's such a crucial artery." [Point of fact: The Brooklyn Bridge's import as an "artery" will change dramatically once congestion pricing is rolled out in New York City, which can be as early as January 2021.]

For her part, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg suggested it last week's media coverage was inaccurate.

"[Articles] said that the DOT had completed our study of looking at whether the promenade on the bridge could accommodate more space for bikes. We haven't," she said. "It has been sort of a long-standing question for the East River bridges ... about whether we can take a look at traffic lanes. It's something the agencies look at – to be fair to the Mayor, I don't think the discussion has made it to his level yet."

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