Against Incrementalism for the Sake of Incrementalism

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Janette Sadik-Khan is probably my most favorite political figure in the US right now, so I’ve been following the NYC Mayor race pre-game to see who wants to keep her on at DOT.

Looks like it won’t be Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, who used to be a “complete streets” supporter, but now is competing with the other Mayoral hopefuls for the NIMBY vote and the good graces of the NY Post editorial board:

“There’s a radical tendency: Here’s our plan, and we’re going to move it come hell or high water,” de Blasio told David Seifman, referring to the award-winning, life-saving policies of DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan

As Christopher Robbins points out, DOT’s complete streets agenda enjoys supermajority support of 66% of the public.

Traffic deaths are down, cycling is up, and DOT’s agenda is popular. So why does De Blasio want it to move more slowly?

This is an irritating attitude I see a lot in politics and I’m not sure where it comes from. The polling and the cost-benefit calculus all point in one direction, but politicians want to proceed timidly to please a handful of loud opponents. It would be one thing if the loud minority actually represented a broader quieter share of the electorate, but in this case they don’t. It’s not at all clear that any significant share of voters will reward DiBlasio for this stance, or that any significant share would punish him for continuing with the Bloomberg/JSK complete streets agenda.

If you have the political power, and you think something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing it quickly. That way you can get a lot more of it done. Why slow it down just for the sake of slowing down?

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