New Mayoral Candidate Maya Wiley: Bike Lanes Are The Future (Um, They’re Already the Present)

Hat's in the ring: Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley. Photo: Dave Colon
Hat's in the ring: Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley. Photo: Dave Colon

Bike to the future!

Maya Wiley, the latest high-profile entrant in the 2021 mayoral sweepstakes, said the right things about public transportation on Tuesday — but left advocates wanting more.

“This is a city where we need to put our folks back to work, and one of the ways we need to do that is by funding public transportation that gets our people where they need to go and gets them there on time,” said Wiley. “And that means saving our subways, but it also means more bus routes and thinking seriously what a 22nd-century public transportation system looks like in this city. And, yes, that does include bike lanes.”

Yes that does include bike lanes? If that’s an opening salvo, it’s a popgun. The next mayor will enter office already required by city law to build 50 miles of protected bike lanes and 30 miles of bus lanes per year — so, “yes, that does include bike lanes” isn’t exactly a major policy pronouncement.

Still, Wiley’s remarks at her official campaign launch at the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday amount to 50 more words than she has on her campaign website, where the word “transit” only appears once: “Major capital projects in areas like transit will quickly create good jobs to put New Yorkers back to work while transforming the city for a new era,” is all it says.

So it’s hard to know if the former de Blasio administration counsel and former chairwoman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board will try to outdo the City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who is the leading mayoral candidate in terms of laying out an ambitious plan to pedestrianize commercial districts across New York — or whether she will just stick with her former boss’s Green Wave bike network.

For now, there’s no way to know — and advocates are wary.

“Saying ‘bike lanes’ is great, but the key biking question for 2021 is, ‘What are you going to do about the cars and trucks that drive and park in our bike lanes 24/7?’” asked Bike New York spokesman Jon Orcutt.

So perhaps Wiley has the transportation slogan — “A 22nd-century public transportation system!” — but the details are still TBD. In any event, it’s a big dose of optimism to believe New York City transportation in the 2100s will even be on solid ground.