Advocacy group pedals ‘bike mayor’ for New York

With more CitiBikes coming and other increases in bike ridership, the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives is leading the call for the creation of the city post of “bike mayor.”

BY GABE HERMAN | Now that the city has a ‘nightlife mayor,’ could a ‘bike mayor’ be next?

The nonprofit group Transportation Alternatives, which advocates for street safety in the city and nonvehicular forms of travel, is calling on Mayor de Blasio to appoint the city’s first so-called bike mayor.

The group says this person would be an “an interagency representative who would serve as a liaison between city government and people who ride bikes in the five boroughs.” The group also started an online petition for the cause (campaigns.transalt.org/petition/nyc-cyclists-demand-bike-mayor).

Transportation Alternatives stressed several reasons why a bike mayor is needed: Protected bike lanes are not growing fast enough; two-wheeled transportation will be expanding with expansions to the CitiBike program and pending City Council legislation to legalize electric scooters and all e-bikes; and there were four recent cycling deaths in the city, including two in just the first week of 2019.

“It’s no secret that streets where people have physical protection from moving vehicles are safer and more attractive for biking,” said Ellen McDermott, Transportation Alternatives interim director. She credited the city’s Department of Transportation for expanding bike lanes. However, she added, “There are still too many streets that repel would-be riders because they lack safe space for people on bikes.”

Cold weather doesn’t stop cyclists on the Hudson River bike path in Chelsea. Villager file photo

Several international cities already have a bike mayor, including Amsterdam, Mexico City, Sydney and Sao Paolo. An Amsterdam-based organization called BYCS has led the international Bicycle Mayor Program, “to bring together the public and private realms to uncover the massive economic, health and environmental benefits of increased cycling.”

In fact, New York wouldn’t even be the first American city to have a bike mayor. That distinction belongs to the bustling metropolis of…Keene, New Hampshire, population 23,000. Its first bike mayor, Tiffany Mannion, was inaugurated in 2017 and has launched programs such as bike share, community rides, business partnerships that give discounts to cyclists, and a “bike kitchen” that provides tools and training for people to fix their own bikes.

Anna Luten, who was Amsterdam’s bike mayor from June 2016 to November 2017, said in a statement, “Since [I moved] to New York, it’s clear that people who ride bikes in the five boroughs are not well-represented in city government.

“The bike mayor can take the lead in building meaningful campaigns to spread the right message toward all road users,” she added. “In Amsterdam, we were able to build safe infrastructure for all citizens. This would not have been possible if not for the city making a commitment to people on bikes and making sure their interests had a voice in the administration.”

McDermott of Transportation Alternatives said, “A bike mayor would be instrumental in bringing safe bike accommodations to more neighborhoods, and could help advance the Vision Zero Street Design Standard, which would speed up the growth of the protected bike-lane network by syncing street redesigns with repaving projects.”

9 Responses to Advocacy group pedals ‘bike mayor’ for New York

  1. Another 100k+ paid position to prosthelytize about the bicycle “utopia” is not necessary. Let’s keep things balanced; bicyclists, pedestrian, and motorists ALL have a place in this city.

  2. Just watch out when I'm crossing the street. I don't want to get hit by a bicycle!
    Frankly, far too many bikes and far too many irresponsible riders seem to be on our Village streets.

  3. Bike Fanatics are Destroying NYC
    I grew up in NYC and lived here for most of my life. The DOT is destroying NYC with their maze of bike lanes, parking spaces in the middle of avenues, lightpoles covered top to bottom in confusing and contradictory signs, no turn rules arbitrarily enforced and an army of completely useless traffic agents whose only task is to make drivers suffer enough that they never want to come back into the City. Bikes are great. They belong in parks not on the most congested and busy streets in the U.S. It is an absurd notion that riding a bike in the intense air pollution and traffic of Manhattan is "healthy," "safe" or environmentally helpful. It's dangerous fro the bike rider, pedestrians and the drivers of cars. It's even more absurd to encourage tourists who haven't been on a bike since they were kids to rent Citi-Bikes and tool around Manhattan as if they were in a suburban neighborhood. It used to be the case that hundreds of thousands of people from the outer boroughs came into Manhattan on a regular basis to shop, eat, party, see shows…. Thanks to the DOT these real New Yorkers have largely been replaced with millions of tourists. Most people I know who live outside of Manhattan avoid ever going there unless absolutely necessary. The amazing variety of stores that once existed throughout Manhattan have been completely replaced with cookie cutter chain stores that primarily serve tourists and which are completely useless for anyone who lives in NYC. The entire idea of replacing real New Yorkers with tourists is largely the work of the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, that Disnified the City, and turned everything over to corrupt BIDs (Business Improvement Districts). Lastly, as far as the completely unsubstantiated accusations in the article (defamation, libel, slander?), naming groups of residents who dared to politically face off with the DOT and the well-connected bike advocates who were destroying their neighborhood, it is at least as likely that bike advocates are responsible in what may have been a false flag operation to garner sympathy for the bike lanes. After I wrote this the Mayor appeared on The View and got roasted by Whoopie Goldberg and the other hosts for his bike lanes and other DOT atrocities. The bike advocates have become a vicious cult that wants to force their "belief system" on everyone else. That di Blasio goes along with this madness shows him to be an incompetent fool.

  4. Can we please have a Pedestrian Mayor first?!
    We need someone who's looking out for the walking people most likely to be hurt, and hurt the worst, on our streets when people with metal-movers of every kind don't follow the law. There are far more pedestrians than either bikers or car folks, so let's get our priorities in order here.
    We need a Pedestrian Mayor to keep sidewalks for walking, to keep killing machines out of our crosswalks, and to makes sure that City laws prioritize our most vulnerable travelers. We need a PM to make sure that traffic lights consider more than just cars. We need a PM to educate tourists how best not to get hurt or get in residents' & workers' way.
    We need a PM to make sure that everyone keeps to the right on our sidewalks, that people don't walk 3-abreast or more, taking up the entire sidewalk, and that make sure that people staring at smart-screens pull over, if they're not walking here. Maybe we need parking spaces for i-zombies who are texting instead of walking).
    I'm not against a Bike Mayor, but clearly, a Pedestrian Mayor is far more important and could do far more good on our City streets, so please tell me if there is any reason a Bike Mayor matters more.

  5. Whoopie Goldberg tells off di Blasio about bike lanes on The View: https://nypost.com/2019/01/16/whoopi-goldberg-sla

  6. I was riding a Citi Bike yesterday 16 January, and I compared 6th Ave to Madison Ave. 6th has a Bike Lane which ends at 51st , Madison has no bike lane.

    I have a small mirror on the right side of my helmet, which works great when the Bike Lane is on the left. You know hack drivers want to “floor it”.

    So I’m coming up Mad in the 37,38,39 blocks, and it’s a sea of brake lights ahead, and about 5,000 pedestrians… I am cautious because pedestrians are unpredictable. I also know the rate I am coasting, I will catch up with the cars ahead ( who passed me a few blocks before incidentally ) in ten seconds.

    Is it not against the law to blast a car horn in midtown? There is nowhere for these hacks to go , even if I move over, which would put me too close to the sidewalk full of pedestrians.

  7. And the 10th avenue proposal of March 2018 would leave 5 lanes open to cars, I just looked at my tablet to confirm this.

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