Mayor Uses the ‘H’ Word for Lander: ‘Hypocrite’

Mayor de Blasio.
Mayor de Blasio.

Well, it does take one to know one.

Mayor de Blasio on Friday labeled Council Member Brad Lander a hypocrite for backing a wide variety of street safety initiatives during his tenure in the council only to be revealed as having a driving record that includes eight camera-issued speeding tickets and more than 100 parking tickets.

De Blasio was asked at his daily presser if he considered those numbers evidence of reckless driving, but the mayor went in a different direction.

“I would characterize it as hypocrisy,” de Blasio said. “Everyone who says they believe in Vision Zero has to live by it. Now, you know, we’re all humans. We’re going to make mistakes sometimes, but that’s too many to chalk up to just a single mistake, obviously. So, I’m surprised.”

Since the NY Post story broke on Thursday, Lander has issued several statements — including an apology of sorts in Streetsblog that included a raft of measures he will take to not only stop driving recklessly, but to provide transparency about all his vehicular movements and to allow the public to hold him accountable — but the mayor did not address those remedies.

“Look, I respect him. … He’s done some good work,” the mayor said, slightly dismissively. “But … I was a City Council member, and I never would have parked in front of a hydrant or in a bus stop, everyone knows you don’t do that. So, I don’t know what that is. I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

It is unclear if de Blasio has ever parked illegally, but he certainly knows what it’s like to be driven in a reckless manner.

Early in his tenure, CBS2 caught his motorcade speeding and running red lights. And in 2019, the Daily News reported that de Blasio’s driver went the wrong way down a street before a crash — an incident that was covered up.

And then there was this last week:

The mayor has also doled out tens of thousands of placards that allow city workers to park for free, often illegally, and encourages them to drive more than they otherwise would. Unlike Lander, who has continually pushed street safety measures, de Blasio backed away from Vision Zero last year by disbanding his placard enforcement team after years of failing to fight this basic form of corruption.

In fact, he has been known to illegally park, too, as Streetsblog reported. And before the pandemic, the mayor was tone deaf to his own excessive driving — getting chauffeured 12 miles out of his way multiple times every week to get to a gym in Park Slope, burning fossil fuels and endangering residents of all the neighborhoods along the route.

As such, advocates were quick to say that it’s foolish to focus on the actions of any one driver when the problem is specific roadway design and the larger car culture.

“The fact is that our streets, in aggregate, are designed to encourage driving at high speeds,” said Shabazz Stuart, founder of Oonee, the bike-parking company, and a member of the StreetsPAC board. “City leadership has had multiple opportunities to overhaul this dynamic over the years and progress has been slow. As a result, speeding is not an exceptional choice, it is the norm.

“If anyone questions this, let them stand for a few moments on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn or Queens Boulevard,” Stuart continued. “I would encourage all drivers to be thoughtful about their habits, but we should refocus our collective energies on accelerating ambitious traffic calming designs that will remove the choice from drivers once and for all.”