Weiner and de Blasio now vying to be the bike candidate

A cyclist in Times Square. (Elvert Barnes via Flickr)
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Anthony Weiner, who once famously vowed to tear out Mayor Bloomberg's "fucking bike lanes" is now vying with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio to be the bike candidate in this year's mayoral race.

Today, Anthony Weiner visited a cycling shop in Chelsea called Zen Bikes and proposed a tax break worth $120 a worker for employers who promote biking to work by underwriting biking-related expenses.

His goal? To increase bike commuting by 25 percent in the next four years.

Right now, more than 30,000 New Yorkers are believed to regularly commute by bike.

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"Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have already recognized the advantages of biking and it’s time that the city offers them transit benefits as well,” Weiner said, in a statement. "We should also consider biking as more than just a monetary advantage for employees and businesses—it’s an investment in the future health of our citizens and our city’s environment."

That's a marked departure from Weiner's formerly antagonistic stance toward cycling in New York City.

Here he is back in 2010, as a congressman representing a relatively conservative (for New York) district in southern Brooklyn and Queens: "When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.”

Now that he's running for mayor, he's softened his stance considerably.

Repeatedly, he's said he was just joking in 2010. He's boasted of his Citi Bike membership. And while he's said he doesn't like the Broadway or Prospect Park West bike lanes, in May he told my colleague Azi Paybarah that, "I am not, despite my one comment, I am not going to go on an anti-bike lane jihad if I'm lucky enough to get elected."

If Weiner is vying for the cyclist vote, he's got some competition from, among others, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who once called bike lane champion and transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan a "radical," but who has since undergone a similar political evolution on the topic.

"Right now, the city’s goal is to increase bicycling to 3 percent of all trips by 2020," read the policy book the public advocate released in June. "Bill de Blasio will double that goal—using education, promotion and safer streets to grow bicycling to 6 percent by 2020."

De Blasio also committed to expanding bike lanes and bike share citywide.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in another apparent bid for the cyclist vote, has vowed to cut street fatalities in half. But in her recently released policy book, the only promise she made regarding cyclists involved increasing the amount of bike parking in front of offices and at transit hubs.

Former comptroller Bill Thompson has been relatively quiet on the issue.