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It’s Normal for the Mayor to Take the Subway or Ride a Bike

The new mayor of New York City has been riding the subway a lot, and even using a bike a little, in his first three days in office, and judging by the media coverage of his every MetroCard swipe or Citi Bike scan, people seem to think it’s weird.

You know what’s weird? A mayor not riding the subway or a bike to get around.

On Monday on NY1, Mayor Adams once again was apparently forced to explain why he does that, saying that his typical day will involve taking the subway or riding a bike to get where he’s going because he (the shepherd) has to stay in touch with us (the sheep).

The world has changed since the days when Robert Moses worked from the back of his chauffeured car, and it’s even changed since de Blasio claimed he needed to be driven and certainly couldn’t take a bike to work because he needed to take phone calls. It’s long past time to call bullshit on that kind of, well, bullshit; for at least a decade, you haven’t been able to duck a call from your boss or spouse by saying, “Oh sorry I’m getting on the train” or “I’m about to go into the F tunnel.” Now Slack and all five bars follows you basically everywhere in the subway system (except for the DeKalb Interlocking), so mayors can’t get away with, “Sorry, I need to remain above ground in case the Parks Commissioner attempts a coup.”

Of course, it’s not entirely a New York trope that important people ride in the back seat of big cars and do their important big boy work. In Nashville, City Council Member Sean Parker, who gets around on a bike, has experienced it first-hand:

The most common reaction from people in Metro when they see I’ve biked somewhere is to try to get me to put the bike in their car so they can drive me to the next place.

It’s well-meaning but super weird.

— Sean Parker (@SeanForFive) January 3, 2022

But in New York, giving politicians credit, instead of derision, for riding the subway is especially essential now, not only because de Blasio twisted our brains by presiding over eight years of carmageddon, but also because other politicians (well, including Adams) are demagoguing New York City Transit as unsafe (because Covid) and unsafe (because of criminals). Both claims have long been debunked (and even the latest NYPD stats show that whatever uptick there has been in underground crime, the subway is remarkably safe compared to the not-so-recent past).

So next time you see Mayor Adams on the subway, remember, he’s just a straphanger, so mind your business (or give him some policy recommendations, seeing as he’s on your train). And if you’re a reporter, get your butt out of your automobile and your brain out of the suburbs — your eyes are telling you the truth: a mayor on the subway isn’t news.

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