Saturday, October 19, 2013 – 05:05 PM
By ANDREA BERNSTEIN
New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan took a victory lap Friday at a speech at the Municipal Art Society summit, saying, “What was controversial just a few years ago, things like closing Times Square, is pretty much commonplace today.”
Sadik-Khan said the city’s streets have been transformed under Mayor Bloomberg. Under her tenure, the city has added 350 miles of bike lanes, closed off parts of Broadway to cars, and launched bike share. Polls show widespread approval of bike lanes and bike share.
But Sadik-Khan has been a polarizing figure, called “a goddess” by some and “a fanatic” by others. Sadik-Khan said bike share seemed like a fringe idea not long ago. But now, Democratic mayoral front runner Bill de Blasio — who once dubbed her a “radical” — is vowing to expand bike share and is promising an eightfold increase in biking by 2020.
De Blasio has said he would boot Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Taxi Commissioner David Yassky if elected, but he’s been mum on the transportation commissioner. De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan said, “He’s not thinking about these things” other than those two examples. Both de Blasio and Sadik-Khan worked together in the Dinkins Administration, but the two are not known to be close.
Yet it’s not unusual for new mayors to keep commissioners that handle operations — like Transportation. Bloomberg kept on Iris Weinshall, who had been Transportation Commissioner under Rudy Giuliani. And Giuliani re-appointed Sanitation Commissioner Emily Lloyd, who now runs the Prospect Park Alliance.
Sadik-Khan ended her speech by saying “it’s just been a wonderful six years.”
Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.