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Thursday’s Headlines: ‘Bike Death Mayor’ Edition

Scores of cyclists decried the mayor not only for a rising death toll, but for his inaction and dismissiveness. Plus other news.

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman|

“The bike death mayor.” That’s not the motto Eric Adams would choose, but if the toll fits…

The big story yesterday, of course, was that more than 200 cyclists showed up for the "Enough!" ride-and-rally for safe streets — a protest provoked by the 26 cyclists (not to mention more than 65 pedestrians and more than 90 motorists) who have died in crashes so far this year.

Clarence Eckerson of Streetfilms was there and put together a great first draft of history:

In addition to the protesters caught on Eckerson's camera, also present was Frédérique Uster-Hug, whose husband, Adam, was killed by a truck driver in Brooklyn in May. Echoing her moving Streetsblog op-ed earlier in the week, she spoke eloquently about how street safety is not just about cyclists, but about all road users, including the drivers who kill us and are also killed in huge numbers, too.

Frédérique Uster-Hug addressed the crowd just months after her husband was killed (and inches from her husband's ghost bike).Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Here are a few more shots from the rally:

A would-be cyclist wants the mayor to see conditions for himself.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris whipped up the crowd before the ride.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
The names of the dead were laid out on the plaza next to City Hall.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The problem is: will anything change with this mayor? When 20 cyclists were killed in the first months of 2019, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a "Green Wave" plan, which didn't solve all the problems, but it did at least address some of them. And, most important, deaths dropped.

But this mayor is not easily shamed, even by his own failures. Indeed, one day before the rally, Mayor Adams dismissively told a reporter that he's a great mayor because you can "ride your little bike safely," which is not only not true, but also dismissive of just how untrue it is. Imagine saying to a cyclist, "You can ride your little bike safely..." in a year when a record number of cyclists have been killed. (Streetsblog and amNY covered.)

But to give the administration a second chance, on Wednesday, hours before the rally, Streetsblog's Dave Colon asked DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez what he thought of Adams's doubly dismissive comment. Rodriguez had a long windup before promising that he and the mayor do care about the rising cyclist death toll.

"We have the best engineering team at DOT led by Eric Beaton and the whole team that worked so hard to widen more bike lanes, to do more bike lanes such as Third Avenue," he said. "New York City has more bike lanes than any other city sometimes even more than three or four cities combined. Are we happy where we are? No, we need more."

He then claimed that the Adams administration is doing more for "the underserved community ... the working class community" and is "committed to continue making it safer."

Rodriguez declined to comment on the rally itself. "We have the best transportation department on the whole globe," he said. "We run the most complex Transportation Department among all countries."

Complex? Definitely. But 26 cyclists dead in nine months? Definitely bad. And Rodriguez can tout the bike and bus lanes his team is building, but he's way behind the legally mandated benchmarks in both categories, according to trackers posted by Transportation Alternatives and Riders Alliance.

You don't have to believe the advocacy groups — it's in the mayor's own Management Report: Bike lane construction was down 22 percent. And he's watered down DOT initiatives on McGuinness Boulevard, Fordham Road, Flatbush Avenue and Ashland Place, among others.

"At the end of the day, the mayor and Ingrid do not like these projects," one administration source told Hell Gate last month.

The good thing is that more and more people are getting hip to what's going on with this mayor and street safety — even important people who have the full range of city issues to worry about:

There was only one other story yesterday, it seemed:

  • Lots of outlets covered the mayor's announcement of new rules about containerized trash. We, of course, went with two stories, an overview and a mayoral story looking at the revolutionary repurposing of curbside space for garbage instead of parked cars. Other outlets went in a different direction:
    • Gothamist and the Post focused on the minimal cost to building owners, who will now pay $45 for a bin (rat extermination and summonses are a lot more expensive than that, as the mayor well knows!)
    • The Daily News framed it as part of the mayor's war on rats (with no mention of the sidewalk space being stolen from pedestrians).
    • amNY played it straight.
  • Finally, our Photoshop Desk had some fun after we saw that the NYPD's space-hogging squad car had disappeared from the pedestrian and cyclist path on the Brooklyn Bridge. But by the end of the day, the car was still absent. Could this silly practice of clogging up the path be over?

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