John Liu on His Problems With the Bike Bill

I just spoke to John Liu about the Bike Access Bill, which would require landlords to provide storage space for bikes. The legislation, which has fairly broad support, is sitting in the Transportation Committee, which Liu chairs.

Liu told me that the legislation has been radically diluted from a similar initiative he supported earlier, equating it to adding “a gallon of water to a half a cup of orange juice.”

Bicycle activists and the bill’s author, David Yassky, say the bill should have been voted out of committee on Tuesday, and have been criticizing Liu because it hasn’t.

Joe Pompeo has more on that.

Liu, as his spokeswoman told Pompeo, told me there was never a vote scheduled on this bill and therefore, no delay. He also said he has specific problems with the legislation, and, in general, he has a problem with having it falling under the auspices of the Department of Transportation.

“The bill does not achieve anything right now,” said Liu. “Building owners are required to submit a bike-access plan, unless an owner claims access would be too difficult to provide.” He said without a provision for the city to challenge that claim, the legislation is meaningless. He also said the Department of Transportation agreed to insert that into the bill, but so far, he hasn’t heard from them.

The other major problem Liu said he has with the legislation is that it gives the Department of Transportation authority to go into buildings, something he says they never have been allowed to do before.

“Never before have they been given the authority to examine what’s inside a building,” he said. Liu said that when landlords object to providing bicycle access, “the main issue here has to do with the elevator. I have a problem with the D.O.T. having the final say on this. Clearly it lies with the Department of Buildings.”

Liu said the D.O.T. needs to perform their current functions (like pedestrian safety) better before it starts acquiring new authorities.

“Legislation that affects certain agencies should naturally be assigned to committees that have oversight of those agencies,” he said, before adding that the original version of this bill was held for years without a hearing in the Housing and Buildings committee.

I asked Liu if dealing with this bill was complicated by the fact that it’s author, Yassky, is one of his opponents in the comptroller race.

Liu said, “It doesn’t hurt me passing Yassky’s bill.”

John Liu on His Problems With the Bike Bill