We’ve said it before, but mayoral candidate Zach Iscol said it again: What a great city this would be if we all could see it through Dave Colon’s eyes.
Iscol stated the obvious as part of a mayoral forum on Tuesday night hosted by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats [full video here] during a segment with fellow candidates Andrew Yang, Dianne Morales and Ray McGuire (whom Streetsblog readers are hearing from for the first time, as he skipped our mayoral questionnaires).
In the segment (beginning at 1:57:35), the candidates were asked by NY1’s Gloria Pazmino to reflect on how Paris transformed itself “into a cycling Mecca” during the coronavirus pandemic, creating a city that “is greener, has less traffic and has improved air quality.”
“Are you committed to reimagining our streetscape and making it safer for cyclists, even if it means losing parking on some streets,” Pazmino asked, starting with Iscol, an Iraq combat veteran and entrepreneur who is one of at least four candidates to constantly hype their personal cycling (Yang, Shaun Donovan, Carlos Menchaca).
Iscol started with a shout out to Streetsblog senior reporter Colon.
“I just took a bike ride with Dave Colon of Streetsblog. If you are a mayoral candidate and you haven’t done it yet, I encourage you to do it. It was a remarkable experience seeing the city through his eyes,” he said, referencing the reporter’s “challenge” to all mayoral candidates to go cycling with him (so far, Menchaca, Iscol and Art Chang have accepted).
“This is also an issue that is deeply personal to me,” Iscol continued. “I’ve been hit by car doors. My cousin Jimmy was hit by a city truck and spent three months in a coma. I am 100 percent committed to this. I ride 100-150 miles a week on my bike in this city. I believe we can make this a better city. … Having a city that is vibrant with green spaces and getting back streets from cars adds to a city that is mentally healthy in addition to a physically healthy city.”
Yang has indicated that he will also take the Colon challenge and praised Iscol’s iron man cycling routine, but his commitment to cycling was a bit muted by a vague commitment to “community.”
“I’m very very committed to make us the most bikable city we can be,” he said, before taking a right hook. “I do think there are certain areas where you don’t necessarily want to swap out parking for bike lanes. You have to check with a community and see what their needs are. It’s not a one-size-fits-all question, but generally speaking, I am all for bike lanes and we have to try to make living in New York as manageable for people who don’t have cars and don’t feel like they need to own a car.”
Surprisingly, the progressive Morales defended drivers, some of whom, she said, “need” their cars (even though the vast majority of New York City households do not have access to a car — and the ones that do, tend to be far wealthier than households where the adults commute on transit).
“I am fully committed to open streets, safe streets, more bicycle friendly streets,” she said. “However, I think it is important for us to be mindful [of] low-income and middle-class folks who rely on their cars for their work or economic reasons. So I think that any program we roll out to decrease car traffic and increase open green spaces be done with an eye towards not disproportionately impacting people’s livelihoods who rely on cars for transportation.” (We’ve reached out to Morales’s team for clarification.)
When it was his turn, McGuire began speaking in French, saying (we believe), “I know Paris well, so…” before continuing in English, “What we need is to be mindful of what is taking place about parking in neighborhoods where there is limited parking,” he said. “There is limited parking in the streets of Paris until you get into the outer boroughs. I would be in favor of [what] has happened in my neighborhood, where we have reduced parking to have bike lanes. I have a bike. I take Citi Bike around the park quite often, so I am quite favorable for making certain that we reduce the carbon footrpint that is caused by cars. And I am quite favorable to making sure we have bikes that are readily available.”
Then he ended with a weird sentence. “I’m also certain that when we eliminate the bike lanes, we need to have some accommodation for those people who cannot afford parking other than what we provide as a city.”
Eliminate bike lanes? We reached out to McGuire’s campaign for an explanation of that and were told he meant “eliminate parking.” The campaign sent over this statement from McGuire:
As mayor, I will reimagine our streets in ways that create more public space, improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, create space for restaurants and other small businesses, reduce congestion, and increase sustainability. Doing this will require reductions in street parking in some neighborhoods, so we have to make sure that New Yorkers who need a vehicle — particularly our mobility impaired and working families — are rightly accommodated.
For his part, Colon declined to comment for this story, taking instead to Twitter to double-down on his cycling “challenge”:
The Dave Colon Open Challenge, a bike ride with a mayoral candidate on the route of my choosing, is ongoing. If you want some, come get some https://t.co/JxwvcBtBd6
— Good Idea Dave (@DaveCoIon) January 20, 2021