11:14 am Oct. 26, 2012
Today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reinforced his reputation as a transportation reformer, and reaffirmed the worst fears of his bike-skeptic critics, by proclaiming cyclists more important than drivers.
"Cyclists and pedestrians and bus riders are as important, if not, I would argue, more important than automobile riders," said Bloomberg, at the National Association of City Transportation Officials, of which his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is president. "We need the trucks to be able to deliver merchandise. I don't know there's any great solution to that. But mass transit is the only ways we're gonna work ourselves out of the congestion that always inhibits growth. And we're finding ways to do that."
Under Sadik-Khan, the Bloomberg administration has built hundreds of miles of new bike lanes and created pedestrian plazas in places like Times Square, where once there were cars.
Their efforts to reclaim city streets for pedestrians have, predictably, incited virulent opposition from some drivers.
Bloomberg today said drivers' claim to the city's streets is unfounded.
"The streets are there to transport people," he said. "They're not there necessarily for cars, they're to transport people, and there's lots of different ways of transporting people," he said. "In fact, one of the original ways was walking."
He also criticized the state for failing to adequately support the city's mass transit system, on which the both the city's and state's economy relies.
"The economics of this city are very dependent on the transportation system," he said.
"We built a brand new subway that will be open in another year," he added, referring to the 7 train, which the city is funding using a form of tax-increment financing. "Our state refused to give us any money to build a new subway line, and we said, 'Well, screw you.'"
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