How the Mayoral Candidates Stack Up on Safe Streets for Biking, So Far

Matt Flegenheimer got five leading mayoral candidates on the record about bike lanes for a story in the Times today, and one of the encouraging things about it is that you can start to see the candidates running against each other (and not just the three-term, lame duck incumbent) on bike policy.

It’s still early in the race, but here’s what the Times story tells us about these five so far:

John Liu: Probably going to wipe out some bike lanes in Brooklyn and Queens if he’s elected. Doesn’t believe the Quinnipiac, Marist, or Times polls that consistently show about two-thirds of New Yorkers support bike lanes. Apparently he would put more faith in a poll commissioned by bike lane opponents. (May we suggest this one, which found… about 3-2 support for the Prospect Park West bike lane.) But it’s okay, he’s an avid biker!

Joe Lhota: Open to bike lane removal where he sees fit. Like where? Well, he’s under the impression that bike lane stripes are somehow interfering with buses on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, but it’s been common knowledge since before the bike lane was installed that double-parked cars and traffic congestion are the real problems. Lhota even tweeted about the non-problem of the Fifth Avenue bike lane on the evening Hurricane Sandy struck, so, with beliefs this irrational, who can say what other streets would fall victim?

Bill Thompson: Here’s where things start to look up. Thompson seems to have made progress on this issue since his 2009 mayoral bid, when he said he would rip out the Grand Street bike lane. Now he’s telling the Times he’s not going to remove any bike lanes and would consider expanding the bike network if bike-share proves successful.

Christine Quinn: No firm statement about bike lane expansion, but she supports cycling in general and bikes on days off at the shore. City biking seems to be a different matter. While she claims too much credit for DOT’s public process for bike lane implementation (the agency was doing thorough outreach for bike projects before the City Council mandated community board review in 2011), she also acknowledges the enthusiasm for bike lanes in her district.

Bill de Blasio: Gave the Times a statement, posted in full on the public advocate’s site, which is a departure from recent remarks to the Brooklyn Paper that appeared to be heavily influenced by opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane. De Blasio now says unambiguously: “I fully support bike lanes and I want to see them continue to expand around the city. They are clearly making many NYC streets safer.” Gone is the assertion that the data on bike lanes is “biased.” But his appeal for “proactive outreach” overlooks all the ways the current DOT has opened up the planning process, with web-based planning portals gathering ideas for street improvements in Jackson Heights, and community-based efforts like the Grand Army Plaza Coalition finally having a seat at the table.

If you want to get more specifics out of Quinn or de Blasio, both will be attending a Downtown Independent Democrats candidate forum in Tribeca tonight at 6 p.m.