- Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has launched a campaign asking New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to appoint a "bike mayor" who could "speak up for the needs of New York City cyclists."
- In a statement, the group said "there is no better time than now to appoint a Bike Mayor in New York City," especially since two cyclists have already been killed in 2019. The expansion of Citi Bike, the spread of e-bikes and investments in protected bike lanes were also cited as reasons that a biking voice is necessary in government.
- According to Metro New York, the city would become the first major U.S. city to appoint a bike mayor, although similar positions have been created in cities like Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney and others.
Under de Blasio, New York has worked to vastly expand its biking opportunities. Since 2014, the city has installed more than 250 new miles of dedicated cycling space — including 20 miles of protected bike lanes last year — for a network that is now longer than 1,200 miles. The docked bike-share network Citi Bike is set to triple in size over the next five years, thanks to an investment from Lyft, and the city has become more open to dockless options in certain neighborhoods.
According to Transportation Alternatives’ campaign, the bike mayor would especially be tasked with articulating the "dangers of New York City streets and the deterrents to cycling" in the city, helping the city work on policy that would make biking safer and easier. Amsterdam-based bike group BYCS has established a network of bicycle mayors around the world (the only current U.S. position is in Keene, NH). They have worked to coordinate riders, private companies and government bodies on policy initiatives and incentives, all building to BYCS’ goal of putting a billion people worldwide on bicycles.
The safety focus is one that would echo the de Blasio administration’s current policies as part of the Vision Zero initiative. Thanks to the protected bike lanes and enforcement around intersections, the city says that cyclist fatalities are down to record lows. In 2018, 10 cyclists were killed on New York streets, down from a previous record low of 12 in 2009 and 2013.
It remains to be seen whether the bike mayor position will gain traction, but city council member Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Transportation Committee, told Metro New York he supported the position and had submitted a legislative request to establish an Office of Cyclists and Pedestrians. "In an urban setting like New York City, cyclists and pedestrians are as much a part of everyday transit options just as buses, vehicles, subways, and trains,” he told the outlet. "The Office of Cyclists & Pedestrians will advocate for safer street design and promote bicycle and pedestrian travel, which will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that will benefit everyone in NYC."