Mayor: There’s Not Enough People Biking to Warrant Dedicated Bike Lane Enforcement

The mayor spent most of his half-hour with WNYC's Brian Lehrer on transportation issues.

Mayor de Blasio greeting personnel from the NYPD's new bus lane tow truck units. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio greeting personnel from the NYPD's new bus lane tow truck units. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Dedicated bike lane enforcement teams aren’t worth the city’s limited financial and personnel resources, Mayor de Blasio reiterated on WNYC today.

Across the city, bus lanes and bike lanes are perennially blocked by illegally-parked cars — often belonging to city employees. This month, NYPD launched dedicated tow truck enforcement teams for bus lanes. To the frustration of many cyclists, including one caller on WNYC’s “Ask the Mayor” this morning, a similar initiative does not exist for bike lanes.

“We don’t have the resources to [enforce bike lanes] right now in the way I think some folks who advocate for the bicycling community would like to see,” the mayor explained in response to the caller.

The question referred to comments the mayor made yesterday, when he told NY1’s Grace Rauh that the city’s relatively low cycling numbers do not warrant the same level of investment as its bus riders, who number in the millions:

After that comment, advocates and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson took the mayor to task on Twitter, pointing out that there would be a lot more people biking if New Yorkers could trust that bike lanes would clear of dangerous obstructions like illegally-parked cars.

On the radio Friday, de Blasio dug in his heels.

“I respect the advocacy of people in the bicycle community, but I’d also like the acknowledgement to be there that Vision Zero has been the central approach, with a huge amount of resources committed — and clearly working,” he told host Brian Lehrer, pointing the the measured impact his policies have had towards reducing traffic fatalities.

“I had a very honest and straightforward answer,” he added. “We absolutely believe in enforcement in bike lanes, but the point is this specific approach is about something vast.”

De Blasio took no less than six questions from Lehrer and his callers about transportation matters. One called to thank the mayor “from the bottom of [his] heart” for the bus lane enforcement initiative. Another praised the announcement, but raised concerns about government employees using their parking placards to evade penalty for illegal parking.

The city will release a report on its placard enforcement strategy next month, de Blasio said.

Lehrer also asked the mayor about recent reporting from Streetsblog and Gothamist, which show that the governor’s plan for weekend and night-time single tracking on the L-train will result in dangerous overcrowding and 40-minute headways.

Despite those frightening forecasts, the mayor said he’s OK with the governor’s plan.

“Over the last weekend, our teams were meeting with the MTA to go over the details. We do believe that the new approach is better. We support it,” he said. “Now we have to figure out what it means in terms of those mitigation efforts.”

Listen to the full interview here.