05 February 2011

Brooklyn's Markowitz Mocks Bicycles

Fading Away Already

Caroline Samponaro from Transportation Alternatives in New York sent this message via Facebook regarding comments that Brooklyn's Borough President Markowitz gave at his State of the Borough Address. I'll just let her do the talking:

"Borough President Markowitz made a mockery of street safety last night at his State of the Borough Address. Contact him today to let him know his lack of leadership on this issue is unacceptable. Let him know that playing politics with safety is not OK with the Brooklyn-ites who put him in office.

Email Marty today and cc your elected official and ask him to explain his lack of leadership: askmarty@brooklynbp.nyc.gov

CC your City Council Member on your email. You can find out who yours is here.

In recent months the Borough President has consistently dismissed the facts on how bike lanes and pedestrians street safety investments are reducing crashes for all street users and eliminating speeding-a leading killer on our streets.

The day before his State of the Borough address, the moment when he speaks to his constituents about how he plans to work on their behalf in the year ahead, safe streets advocates and families of cyclists and pedestrians killed or injured by cars in Brooklyn asked Marty to speak up for street safety. We asked him to let us know how he would work for safer streets in 2011 to prevent needless crashes and loss of life in Brooklyn. See the summary of this request here.

Not only did he not speak for safer streets at the State of the Borough Address, he mocked it. His response to a request to get serious about street safety was to further politicize a basic right that all New Yorkers share: safe passage on our public right of ways--our streets. Read more here.

2011 State of the Borough Address - As prepared for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz - February 3, 2011

[Borough President rides in on bike lane]

Welcome to beautiful Sunset Park, Brooklyn, USA, and the 2011 State of the Borough address!

As you can see, I’ve taken advantage of the Department of Transportation’s newest bike lane. Of course, I can tell it’s still under construction, because the D.O.T. hasn’t yet removed all the seats in the auditorium to make room for it!


As I’m sure you noticed, I made my entrance tonight on what I like to my senior cycle, so I hope you understand that I am not against bicycles. I’m not even against bike lanes. I’ve supported their creation around Brooklyn, including 9th street near Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Greenway that runs from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

But for the majority of New Yorkers, it is simply not feasible to make bicycles their primary mode of transport, and unfortunately that’s the direction I believe the City’s policy is heading. They are trying to stigmatize car owners and get them to abandon their cars, when the fact is, even many bicyclists also own cars!

Cycling is no substitute for mass transit, and there are still tens of thousands of Brooklynites who live far from public transportation and who rely on a car to reach their jobs and live their lives. But of course, we must have a comprehensive plan that insures the safety of drivers, walkers and cyclists. And we should all remember to show respect to one another—drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, everybody who uses our streets. I have been a vocal critic of the Prospect Park West bike lane because I think it is a perfect example of how not to install a bike lane. It has disrupted the aesthetics of one of Brooklyn’s most beautiful thoroughfares and made it more dangerous to cross the street safely, especially for seniors, young children and parents with strollers.

Did he really say that?
"Cycling is no substitute for mass transit..."
"But for the majority of New Yorkers, it is simply not feasible to make bicycles their primary mode of transport..."

Talk about out of the loop. Go get him, Brooklyn.


Hobbes vs Boyle said...

Mikael, I'm surprised you didn't mention that Markowitz was wearing a helmet in his ridiculous "ride" into the venue. See the video in this Streetsblog article. Is there a stronger argument against wearing helmets than the fact that this douchebag is wearing one?

nathan_h said...

Not only that, it's a government issued helmet, dolled out by the same DOT Markowitz hates so much. I love to think of my tax dollars subsidizing foam confectioners in order to flood the city with free helmets that are all being "worn wrong" according to serious adults who are always falling off their bicycles and landing on their heads.

By wearing one of these garish accessories to make his appearance on a bicycle even more ridiculous, Markowitz illustrates the failure of appeasement. Give away the free piece of sports equipment your opponents falsely claim will protect cyclists from errant 2-ton vehicles, and they'll wear it onto a stage to mock you for believing their load of crap. To complete the picture he should have handed out DOT-issued "Don't be a Jerk" pamphlets for cyclists.

The organizational culture here is still too messed up to promote cycling productively. The DOT should stick to laying down useful bicycle lanes; when people see that they can ride a bike without being honked at and run over, they don't need to be *told* to do it, or how.

And for the anti-bicycle lane reactionaries, continue to refute their lies with airtight data. There is nothing they can do about the fact that bicycle lanes invariably and measurably increase pedestrian safety, except try to distract the debate with theatrics like this. They are terrified that the grim facts of road danger will be internalized by the majority-pedestrian New York public and overturn the automobile's dominance of our (and later other urban-American) streets.

Tom Rorb said...

Marty is an ass. Thanks for the highlight.

Lim Soo 林蘇 said...

This is exactly what Hong Kong government point of view:'Cycling is not a substitute for mass transit.'

Doug said...

Thanks for highlighting his absurd statements. As strange as it sounds, New York needs this kind of help and support if it's ever going to become the kind of city it can be.