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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian C.'s Avatar
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    Bike lane issue in Mayoral Race

    I live outside the City, so I've got no dog in this fight, but I like the bike friendly attitude in City Hall. I think Thompson is wrong on this one. He has promised to dump Bloomies Transportation Commissioner over bike lane progress.

    below is the full article from City hall news

    http://www.cityhallnews.com/newyork/...yors-race.html

    Benjamin Lim, a 26-year-old web developer in Midtown, is an avid cyclist who says he votes Democratic “99.9 percent of the time.” For months, Lim paid little attention to the mayor’s race—until he heard Comptroller Bill Thompson say he intended to fire Janette Sadik-Khan, the plucky, bikefriendly transportation commissioner, if elected in November.

    Suddenly, Lim had a stake in the race. “Many of my friends have expressed the same sentiments and many of them are registered Democrats,” he wrote via e-mail. “Even some of my friends who don’t ride bikes love [Sadik-Khan] and are voting for Bloomberg as a result.”

    Lim created a Facebook page called “I’m voting for Bloomberg because I love Janette Sadik-Khan,” which has grown to over 100 members so far.

    “That’s obviously not going to swing an election,” Lim noted, “but it was nice to see that I wasn’t the only person who felt this way.”

    Since Thompson vowed to ax Sadik- Khan in the first Democratic primary debate, he has escalated his rhetoric, promising to remove some of the bike lanes that Sadik-Khan has made a linchpin in her effort to transform the city’s streetscape.

    “I favor bicycle lanes, however, you are hearing the complaint all over the city of New York, because the communities have not been consulted,” Thompson said.

    Thompson’s comments ignited a firestorm of disbelief and anger among transportation buffs across the city, many of whom view Sadik-Khan not as some dispensable government hack, but as a visionary who understands the importance of sustainable, liveable streets.

    But Thompson’s stance has earned him praise in other circles. Sean Sweeney, the director of the SoHo Alliance, a civic group, says that those who believe that bike lanes are being “shoved down our throats” will undoubtedly look more kindly on Thompson.

    “That’s wonderful,” Sweeney said of Thompson’s promise to remove Sadik- Khan. “It has invigorated me to work harder for Mr. Thompson’s election.”

    Sweeney says he doubts fans of Sadik- Khan like Benjamin Lim will make much of a difference at the ballot box.

    “There is no vast public outcry for bike lanes or public streets or closing off Times Square,” Sweeney said. “Why this crazy emphasis on turning the Big Apple into Portland?” The Bloomberg campaign accused Thompson of playing politics. “Mr. Thompson continues to criticize without offering vision or coherent strategy for how he’d tackle small business—killing congestion or air pollution” said campaign spokesperson Andrew Doba.

    Iris Weinshall, Sadik-Khan’s predecessor, was never such a political lightning rod, and the idea that a number of votes may hinge on whether the transportation commissioner remains in her job is still unusual and hints at the over-sized role Sadik-Khan is playing in New York politics.

    George Arzt, a veteran Democratic political consultant, said Thompson appears to be making a grab for working class, outer borough votes with his calls to remove bike lanes and dump Sadik- Khan.

    “It’s a 718 issue, as we used to say,” said Arzt. “He sees this as an advantage to do something for the car drivers, many of whom hate the bicycle lanes and are fearful of running over a cyclist.”

    Ross Sandler, a New York Law School professor who served as transportation commissioner under Mayor Ed Koch from 1986-1989, said that vast improvements in public safety over the past 20 years have increased competition for public space, which goes towards explaining Sadik- Khan’s controversial role in the political landscape, as well as the growing clamor for her removal.

    “Everybody wants that space,” Sandler said. “Parkers, truckers, drivers, cyclists, skateboarders. It is the most competitive space in the city.”

    Sadik-Khan’s successful efforts to transform streets into pedestrian plazas and create hundreds of miles of bike lanes has also earned her the enmity of a growing number of politicians and community groups who claim these projects have not been properly vetted in the community. And some of these criticisms have blossomed into outright hostility toward Sadik-Khan.

    “The commissioner is playing games,” said Jan Lee, a small-business owner and executive vice president of the Civic Center Residents Coalition in Chinatown. “This woman thinks she’s god.”

    Lee supports Thompson’s bid for mayor because he believes the comptroller will be more transparent in his efforts to improve the flow of human and vehicle traffic.

    “He will have a new commissioner,” Lee said. “I would encourage Bill Thompson to expose the fact that all the agencies have a lack of transparency.”

    While the debate rages on, the Council is taking steps to throw some roadblocks in Sadik-Khan’s path.

    Council Member Alan Gerson, who lost his bid for re-election in last month’s primary, says that while Sadik-Khan has made some truly visionary improvements to the city’s streets, her aggressive methods have inspired him, as one of his last acts as a Council member, to introduce legislation that would curtail some of the DOT’s ability to initiate street construction projects without first consulting with Council members and community boards. Another bill would require the department to publicize certain details of its plans and to submit them for community board approval.

    Sadik-Khan declined comment through a spokesperson, but some DOT employees privately grumble that most of these criticisms are coming from politicians who have either lost their jobs, like Gerson, or vying for jobs that are out of reach, like Thompson. Nonetheless, a great deal of administration time and effort has been going to soothe local politicians whose constituents are unhappy with the bike lanes and other changes. Top officials have been dispatched to make peace in neighborhoods across the city. With his bid for a third term already steeped in some controversy, having voters feel that the government is making changes without their input and giving local leaders a point of contention is precisely the kind of political issue Bloomberg does not need.

    But hundreds of community hearings and public meetings are held every month to discuss new and ongoing projects, DOT staff say, as well as to assess the efficacy of completed projects, such as new bike lanes and pedestrian plazas along Broadway.

    The ascendency of cycling in the city’s consciousness has been remarkable, said Teresa Toro, chair of the transportation committee in Community Board 1 in Brooklyn. But the DOT still has not done enough to tie cycling to a larger effort to promote safe, liveable streets, she says. And this may account for much of the vitriol that is being lobbed at Sadik-Khan.

    “More people would understand if it applied to more people,” Toro said. “If [Bill Thompson] really understood the goals of the liveable streets movement, I actually think he would embrace it as well.”
    Last edited by Brian C.; 10-19-09 at 11:08 AM. Reason: bad link

  2. #2
    Powered by Veggies Midol_Mohawk's Avatar
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    I think there are a lot of political factors at work here. First of all, I think this situation is a great representation of democracy in action, regardless of who you support. Its interesting what Sandler says:

    “Everybody wants that space,” Sandler said. “Parkers, truckers, drivers, cyclists, skateboarders. It is the most competitive space in the city.”

    I think that is the key quote in this article. Everyone is fighting for the same place! Thanks for sharing this article though, I really enjoyed it.
    "I hope people will think that I am:

    Independent minded. Original. A person with a sense of humor. Somebody who doesn't take himself too seriously."
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  3. #3
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    “I favor bicycle lanes, however, you are hearing the complaint all over the city of New York, because the communities have not been consulted,” Thompson said.
    One of the biggest misconceptions about the whole bike lane issue is that DOT installed them without community approval. That's simply NOT true. DOT has been doing presentations at each community board seeking community board approval. CB#2, which covers parts of Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Soho, voted 33:1 in favor of the Grand Street Bike Lane.

    Bill Thompson: I’ll Rip Out Bike Lanes and “Review” Safer Streets

    DOT isn't required to go door-to-door asking business owners for permission. If they do a publicly announced Community Board presentation seeking input and these business owners fail to attend, it's their loss.

  4. #4
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    Back door removal of a term limit law that was voted on and passed twice by the citizens of NYC. Can't vote for Bloomberg becasue of that. My hope would be to change Thompson's attitude on this issue as bike lanes are essential.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Cycling rights no matter where -should interest all cyclists; because political movements spread like dandelions. Politicians will pick up any cause no matter what are their previous positions, if it will pick up a vote..
    . I suggest go to Thompson's website.. He talks of rising ozone at NYC airports and pollution caused by the automobile. Does he tie together all his environmental positions to see if they are consistent.. He describes himself as Green friendly...Sure.... Not to worry, the NYC mayoral election was all but over before it started. ?
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






    ^ Since January 1, 2012

  6. #6
    stole your bike roadiejorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy View Post
    One of the biggest misconceptions about the whole bike lane issue is that DOT installed them without community approval. That's simply NOT true. DOT has been doing presentations at each community board seeking community board approval. CB#2, which covers parts of Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Soho, voted 33:1 in favor of the Grand Street Bike Lane.

    Bill Thompson: I’ll Rip Out Bike Lanes and “Review” Safer Streets

    DOT isn't required to go door-to-door asking business owners for permission. If they do a publicly announced Community Board presentation seeking input and these business owners fail to attend, it's their loss.

    Sums it up well. Thompson has been trying to cater to anyone he can because he's got an uphill battle, and this wasn't the smartest of fights to pick in terms of drumming up support for his campaign. In this time of "green" initiatives he's looking to take the city backward instead of the more progressive course we've been on.
    I like pie

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    Still won't make me vote for Bloomberg.
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  8. #8
    Bubba Ho-Tep's BFF sukram's Avatar
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    Thompson is just blasting Sadik-Khan because she's a polarizing figure who's done some polarizing things. I don't think he really cares on way or the other about the bike lanes, and the community input angle is simply a red herring.

    However, since he hasn't come out with any vision to do anything to improve the current bike or ped infrastructure I'd be willing to bet he's just planning on letting us fend for ourselves as we did prior to Sadik-Khan. Sure, an oversimplified view, but whatever.
    - meb

  9. #9
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    This is a moot issue since Bloomberg pretty much can not lose. I don't like the way he operates, and I dislike the way he has sold a lot of NYC to his business buddies, but he has also done a lot for quality of life. Well, at least for my quality of life. He's not turning NYC into Portland but rather into a more European style city. He treats cars as the luxury they are while fixing mass transit, and lowering air pollution at the same time. Splendid! Of course, the fact that he is actually making progress means that he is using underhanded tactics because if he were being truly democratic all of this stuff would take a lot more time to develop. At least he is a benevolent dictator.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Commando303's Avatar
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    First, I think it's idiotic to vote for a person because of to which party he or she belongs (and when you're in a party and you run for office, as you run and if you win, you really do "belong" to the party).

    Second, I don't think this issue will have much effect on the election.

    Third, in my view, one of the most important criticisms of Bloomberg is the way in which he stepped around term-limits.

    Fourth, some of the bike-lanes that have been laid down do suck, and I'm not a fan of the "pedestrian space" that's been designed in Times Square.

    I don't think I have a "fifth," at the moment...

  11. #11
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    I don't know if you're referring to my use of the word "democratic," but I meant just that--not a political party designator. Democrats and Republicans are both centrist parties, and especially in local elections it doesn't matter what party someone belongs to. The sentence in parentheses goes against what your first sentence said, so that is a bit confusing.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Commando303's Avatar
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    Lukasz, sorry, I wasn't referring to anything you said — early in the article you cite, a person is mentioned who almost always [robotically] votes along party lines. Sorry, too, if my syntax was confusing: I meant to say, candidates typically are slaves to their parties.

  13. #13
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    No need for apologies. I just didn't understand! I thought that you were stating something you believed in rather than commenting on the article.

  14. #14
    Bulldozer GirlAnachronism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando303 View Post
    First, I think it's idiotic to vote for a person because of to which party he or she belongs (and when you're in a party and you run for office, as you run and if you win, you really do "belong" to the party).

    Second, I don't think this issue will have much effect on the election.

    Third, in my view, one of the most important criticisms of Bloomberg is the way in which he stepped around term-limits.

    Fourth, some of the bike-lanes that have been laid down do suck, and I'm not a fan of the "pedestrian space" that's been designed in Times Square.

    I don't think I have a "fifth," at the moment...
    I agree completely. The term-limits thing really pisses me off, but I can't say I'm all that impressed with Thompson. What to do, what to do (I guess the hand wringing is something of a moot point since Thompson doesn't have a chance, but we can pretend).

    I'm also not crazy about the Times Square stuff, but I like Sadik-Khan in general, and it seems like Bloomberg's given her a lot of autonomy to try new things and experiment, and to begin to shift the way we think about traffic and urban space.

    Did anyone else hear the bit they did on this on Brian Lehrer the other day? It was interesting, but it pissed me off that people kept complaining that they could no longer double park on Grand, as though they have some fundamental right to double parking. Here's a link.
    You're not punk, and I'm telling everyone.

  15. #15
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Riding down the Greenway last night I noticed the lights are on around West 70th Street where the path goes under the Henry Hudson Parkway. That area's been dark as long as I can remember. Could it be the fact that we're a week out from Election Day that got them turned on?

    I think one of the saddest things about this election is the pathetic endorsements Thompson's received from fellow Democrats, two of whom clearly prefer Bloomberg but are toeing the party line. I'm (reluctantly) voting for Bloomberg but I have to admit Thompson is taking this crap quite gracefully.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Commando303's Avatar
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    With a rather weak candidate like Thompson, and a billionaire incumbent opponent such as Bloomberg, it's a wonder the former's gotten any party support, whatsoever. Early in his term, when everyone loathed him, Bloomberg would've lost an election to a kitten wearing a baseball cap, but, now, some feel he had an actual shot at the U.S. presidency (2008), running as an independent. Funny things...

  17. #17
    stole your bike roadiejorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy View Post
    Riding down the Greenway last night I noticed the lights are on around West 70th Street where the path goes under the Henry Hudson Parkway. That area's been dark as long as I can remember. Could it be the fact that we're a week out from Election Day that got them turned on?

    I think one of the saddest things about this election is the pathetic endorsements Thompson's received from fellow Democrats, two of whom clearly prefer Bloomberg but are toeing the party line. I'm (reluctantly) voting for Bloomberg but I have to admit Thompson is taking this crap quite gracefully.
    They need the cyclist vote!
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    I had contacted the Thompson campaign asking if they would like to comment on bike lanes or reply to this forum link. I had in return gotten an e-mail asking for my time or a donation to help the cause. ARRGGHH.

    To me the term limit issue is a deciding factor. I can't support Bloomberg or any of the city council people who had voted to change the term limit laws. No one else in the mayoral race seems to have a viable shot at getting elected. Wish there was a "none of the above" option on the ballot.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Commando303's Avatar
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    How much nicer it'd have been if the Bloomberg team decided to simply put term limits to a public vote — certainly there'd've been a chance the people would have voted to let Bloomberg run for another term.

  20. #20
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Bloomberg said last night during the debate that if he's re-elected we could have a(nother) referendum on term limits

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