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.”