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Posts from the "Anthony Weiner" Category

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Anthony Weiner, Ready to Erase Bike Lanes, Won’t Be Cowed by “Jihadists”


It may be news to the national audience of BuzzFeed, but Anthony Weiner once said he would hold ribbon cuttings on his first day in Gracie Mansion to rip out the city’s bike lanes. He now insists the expletive-laced promise was a joke, but he’s firm in his opinion that at least two of the city’s bike lanes should be removed. He reiterated that position in an interview with BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith yesterday, adding that he’s “not going to be bullied” on the issue by “policy jihadists.”

Smith’s interview with Weiner provides perhaps the best example yet of the candidate’s “small talk, small stick” approach to bike policy. Here it is in three simple steps:

  • Equivocate on whether you support bike lanes (“There are good bike lanes and bad bike lanes”);
  • Talk about how great Citi Bike is (“You know, I belong to this bike-share thing”);
  • And finally — this is the real wild card — speak off the cuff with a snappy one-liner.

In this interview, Weiner’s off the cuff moment came when he promised that he would stand up to what he described as “policy jihadists,” who he said are “incapable” of understanding “that there are going to be stupid bike lanes, and so you’re going to replace them.” Weiner promised that as mayor, he would not hesitate to rip out bike infrastructure — which, it should be noted, is making streets safer for everyone. ”I’m not going to be bullied by people who are like, protesting outside my house because I made some joke about bike lanes,” he said.

When Smith asked whether Mayor Michael Bloomberg or DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan were “policy jihadists,” Weiner replied, “More the latter.”

The interview didn’t reveal much of substance about Weiner’s transportation policy. (He has twice volunteered an encouraging position on off-street parking reform, an issue other candidates have avoided.) He’s said he would remove bike lanes on Prospect Park West and Broadway, and on BuzzFeed Weiner again spoke against Broadway bike infrastructure. “They take Broadway and get it down to one lane,” he said, arguing that the current street design makes deliveries difficult. “They have to park the truck in one lane of traffic, or on the sidewalk, or in the bike lane. That’s a bad bike lane.”

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Weiner on Bike Policy: Small Talk, Small Stick

Yesterday, riders at the sixth annual Tour de Queens got a preview of Anthony Weiner’s proposal to introduce new city tax breaks for businesses that help employees bike to work. It’s one of the meager transportation proposals in his policy book, “Keys to the City.” There are already plenty of financial incentives to bike — walking is the only mode of transportation that’s cheaper — so, understandably, riders were much more interested in hearing from Weiner about how he’ll make streets safer. But his ideas about street design were similarly underwhelming.

Anthony Weiner has a Citi Bike key fob, but he lacks a coherent plan to make biking safer. Photo: NY Mag

After taking a turn at the mic to hype the tax benefit, Weiner jawboned with about a dozen Tour de Queens participants, including myself, about how he’d make streets safer for biking. He was amiable throughout, but while he insisted he was only joking when he told Mayor Bloomberg, in 2010, that he would “have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your f—ing bike lanes,” he also made it clear that he would, in fact, rip out bike lanes if elected, starting with the Broadway bike lane that runs close to his current residence in Gramercy.

Whereas fellow mayoral aspirant John Liu has said that bike lanes make sense in Manhattan but not elsewhere in New York, Weiner staked out the inverse position: He’ll remove bike lanes in Manhattan while adding them in the other boroughs. When I mentioned the dramatic reduction in injuries on major avenues following redesigns for bike and pedestrian safety, he said that all of his decisions would be “data-driven.” But he wasn’t swayed by the well-documented improvements in safety that I brought up.

In his view, projects like the Times Square pedestrian plazas and Manhattan protected bike lanes aren’t calming traffic, they’re delaying motorists. “When you create an enormous amount of congestion,” he said, “you’re going to have fewer injuries.” Any safety gains, he said, have to be weighed against the added congestion.

Of course, if you look at the numbers, these redesigns aren’t delaying motor vehicle traffic. They’re reducing the incidence of speeding and compelling drivers to take turns more carefully. Manhattan remains a terrible place to drive — same as it ever was. The difference with the new plazas and bike lanes is that now it’s a better place to walk and bike.

Throughout the conversation, Weiner tried to portray himself as a reasonable guy, someone who would take the “divisiveness” (his word) out of bike policy. But listening to him frame successful street redesigns as radical interventions, it seemed like a Weiner mayoralty would mainly take the effectiveness out of bike policy. He never articulated a clear position about how to make streets safer beyond the promise to add more Barnes Dances (all-way, exclusive pedestrian signals).

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At Forum, Mayoral Candidates Back Bus Lanes, Shy Away From Funding

Democratic (top) and Republican and independent (bottom) candidates for mayor talked transportation this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

At a mayoral forum on transportation this morning, the first since a February event hosted by Transport Workers Union Local 100, eight candidates offered ideas on how they would improve the city’s road and transit network. For the most part, the candidates were eager to support buses, quick to get agitated about bike lanes, and short on realistic ideas for how to fund their plans.

The forum, organized by the University Transportation Research Center, packed a room with over 200 students and transportation professionals at Baruch College, with questions posed to the candidates by a lineup of experts. There were two panels: the Republican and independent candidates — Adolfo Carrión, John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and George McDonald – followed Democratic candidates Sal Albanese, John Liu, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner. Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn did not show, leaving empty seats behind their name tags.

Many of the candidates wanted more mayoral control over the city’s transit network, if not an outright transfer of responsibility from the state. While city control of subways and buses is unlikely, Lhota said, “that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bring it up.” Even without full control, he said, the mayor can exert influence through MTA board appointments, providing operating subsidies, and adding bus lanes.

The candidates all cited the need to expand the bus network, particularly Select Bus Service and express buses; many of them also spoke highly of ferries, which require substantial subsidies.

Albanese, Carrión, and McDonald all endorsed “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz’s “fair toll” plan, which would increase or add bridge tolls where there are transit options while cutting tolls where transit is scarcer. Albanese said he would split revenue from the toll plan: Three-quarters of it would go to transit operations, with the goal of reducing the pressure for fare hikes, and a quarter would go to capital investment. McDonald, citing the MTA’s growing operating budget, driven by labor and debt costs, said he would dedicate all of the program’s revenue to capital investments.

Catsimatidis said that he opposes any proposal that would add or increase tolls, while Thompson repeated his long-standing call for assessing vehicle registration fees by weight and reinstating the commuter tax, which would be dedicated exclusively to transit. Liu, while calling a return of the commuter tax unrealistic, said Congress should allocate more funds to transit.

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Caption Contest: Anthony Weiner on a Citi Bike

Photo: NY Mag

I don’t care if this is a carefully choreographed photo op. For one day, at least, we’re not going to run a picture of the Weinermobile in a post about Anthony Weiner. We’re just going to link back to the most recent post with a Weinermobile picture. And we’re going to turn this into a caption contest.

I think this might be the first caption contest we’ve run with the Disqus up-voting system enabled in the comments. We have no prizes to give away this time, just bragging rights. So… captions, anyone?

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Anthony Weiner: I Love Bike Lanes. Let Me Count the Exceptions…

Anthony Weiner, enemy of congestion pricing and infamous bike lane antagonist, is talking about street design on the campaign trail. Though there was plenty of warning this day would come, it’s still kind of surreal.

Weiner told Capital New York’s Azi Paybarah he was just joking when he boasted to Michael Bloomberg and a room full of NYC Congress members, in 2010, that one of his first acts as mayor would be to “have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out all your [expletive] bike lanes.”

These days, Weiner would have us know that he’s a fob-carrying bike-share member, and that “I love bike lanes.”

But not the one on Broadway near his house, and not the one on Prospect Park West near the house of his political mentor, Chuck Schumer. Those two excellent street redesigns might still fall under the “tear out” category.

So this is the new Anthony Weiner. The reinvention is so dramatic we had to recycle the Weinermobile picture Streetsblog first used back in 2007.

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Seriously, Why Is Anthony Weiner So Terrified of Bike Lanes?

If Anthony Weiner has anything in common with his mentor Chuck Schumer, it is that he thrives on attention. And now that he’s created a niche for himself on the national stage as the unapologetic, in-your-face liberal congressman from Noo Yawk, he’s apparently gained a following of disaffected young Democrats who don’t necessarily feel represented by yellow dogs and centrist softies.

Anthony Weiner, equivocator. Photo: Narita Choudhury/Flickr

But as Reid Pillifant notes in his incisive Observer profile, for all the choreographed kookiness and “Oh no he didn’t” one-liners, the man who would be mayor goes all squishy on an issue that should be the unquestionable province of any worth-his-salt progressive. When he isn’t flat-out “ducking” (his word) questions on this particular topic, here’s what the brash Mr. Weiner has to say:

“Are bike lanes a progressive thing? I know a lot of very progressive people who were very pissed off at the bike lane in their neighborhood … I do believe that I’m pro-bike like a lot of New Yorkers are. I do hear a lot of New Yorkers say to me, ‘I love bikes, I bike all the time,’ or whatever it is, ‘But damn these f’ing bike lanes’ … That’s a weird place for us to be. That means that people who would be naturally part of a constituency are getting peeled away because they don’t feel something is right.”

“I do believe that I’m pro-bike.” That clear enough for you?

If not, there are other Democrats who have a more developed sense of self. In Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has pledged to build out 100 miles of protected bike lanes during his first term as mayor. And Weiner’s colleague from Portland Earl Blumenauer has for years been an outspoken proponent of cycling and sustainable transport in general. “It’s all about choice,” he recently told Grist. “In too many communities, people have to burn a gallon of gas to buy a gallon of milk. That’s not freedom. That’s tyranny.”

See? It’s not that hard to say it in a soundbite. How can a few lanes for bicycles be the source of such fretful vacillation for a pol who represents a city where over half the population does not own cars?

Back in 2009, when Blumenauer biked the city with the Streetfilms crew, we asked: “When will we get to see a rep from New York City walk, bike, or ride the bus with Clarence?” You can still be the one, Congressman Weiner. Just imagine the airtime.

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Weiner Alone Incurred One Eighth of Congress’s Unpaid Parking and Traffic Tix

This just in from the muckrakers at Roll Call: Of the $15,000+ in outstanding parking and traffic fines accumulated by members of Congress, more than $2,000 was owed by NYC’s Anthony Weiner alone, according to reporters’ survey of license plates and records.

Weiner promptly paid the fines after Roll Call informed him of the findings. As the local political reporters have been quick to point out today, New York’s contingent of parking scofflaw international diplomats may be feeling some schadenfreude at this moment. Weiner released a press release last year about their outstanding parking fines, saying, “It is insulting to all New Yorkers that countries like Yemen, Zimbabwe and Iran owe the City millions in unpaid parking tickets.”

You may now proceed to write punchlines to the set-up, “What’s the difference between Anthony Weiner and Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations?”

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Weiner: There’s No Need for “Warfare Over Bike Lanes”

Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner has edged a little closer to clarifying his now-infamous “tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes” remark.

Though he previously seemed to confirm what many suspected — that the Times, in its zeal for a juicy lede, turned an off-the-cuff exchange with Mayor Bloomberg into an indictment of transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan — Weiner, who’s not exactly known for holding his tongue, has declined to elaborate when it comes to the question of whether he would maintain or continue the expansion of the city’s program for safer biking and walking if elected mayor.

Yesterday, during a social media exchange that brought in thousands of questions and comments, Weiner had this to say:

“first it was a joke. but it make the story because we now have open and unnecessary warfare over bike lanes. its a false choice : bike lanes and true civic planning.”

It’s not the same as, “No, I’m not going to tear out any bike lanes,” but Weiner appears to be acknowledging that the current bike lane “controversy” has been trumped up in the press. As for saying that New Yorkers can have both bike infrastructure and “true civic planning” — that’s sort of a no-brainer, right?

More to come, no doubt.

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Tell Electeds and the Media: I’m a New Yorker, and I Want Safer Streets

Does Anthony Weiner really intend to someday rip out all the bike lanes in New York City? Or was his remark to Mayor Bloomberg “on a balmy night last June” merely a topical quip blown out of proportion in last week’s Times profile of Janette Sadik-Khan?

We’ve queried Weiner’s office to find out, but the Times piece, more than anything, should serve as a rallying point for those who support the work of NYCDOT. Whether or not Sadik-Khan has hurt feelings or ruffled feathers, her efforts continue to make city streets safer and more accessible for the majority of New Yorkers. Period.

With the axing of the 34th Street pedestrian plaza, you can bet the haters — the “real New Yorkers” for whom pedestrians and bus riders are obstacles on the other side of the windshield — smell blood in the water. Today’s sneering editorial from the Post calling for Sadik-Khan’s job is likely but a hint of what’s to come.

Several Streetsblog readers have posted their letters to Weiner and the Times. After the jump, read what John Petro of the Drum Major Institute wrote to the congressman. At this pivotal moment, consider adding your voice of reason to what is sure to be an ongoing war of words over the very future of the city.

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The New York Times JSK Profile: Politicos vs. Progressive Transportation

Has the Times ever published a profile so singularly devoted to one city commissioner’s relationships with other public figures as this Michael Grynbaum story?

It’s not so much a profile of transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan as a 2,500-word description of her place in New York’s political firmament. The question that drives the piece forward is this: “What is it about Sadik-Khan that gets under the skin of state legislators, City Council members, and other political figures?”

A more revealing piece might have asked: “What is it about a program to make New York a better city for transit, biking and walking that gets under the skin of the city’s political class?”

New York is now seen as a national innovator in progressive transportation policy, emulated by cities all over the country. I would like to know more about why so many elected officials in this supposed bastion of progressivism are so worked up over this development, which has not really affected all that many streets. What is it about some thermoplastic stripes on a street that gives Lew Fidler such agita?

The quote that’s already sending the most ripples has nothing to do with Sadik-Khan herself, and everything to do with the program that’s advanced under her leadership at DOT. It comes from Congress member, congestion pricing foe, and once and future mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, at a Gracie Mansion dinner last year:

“When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing?” Mr. Weiner said to Mr. Bloomberg, as tablemates listened. “I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.”

The strange thing about Weiner’s wisecrack is that he’s on the record supporting the expansion of NYC’s bike network.

In 2007, while he was opposing congestion pricing, he was supporting steps (including bike-share) to increase cycling in New York to 10 percent modeshare.

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