$#*! Politicians Say

One evening last spring, I was having a normal conversation with one of the nobler politicians for our cause. We were talking about the recent polls showing that 60 percent of New Yorkers support bike lanes. I was telling him that I could not understand, in light of such numbers, why some politicians were still pledging to “rip out the effing bike lanes.”

Then, all of a sudden, he moved in really close, looked me straight in the eye and quietly said, “Those numbers don’t matter. What really matters is what the triple primes think.”

“What’s a triple prime?” I asked, imagining a delicious side of beef.

“They are people who vote every time they have the chance,” he replied.

“General elections, primary elections, special elections. They never miss a vote. They decide elections.”

The conventional political wisdom, he explained after dashing my visions of steak, held that while the general population might support Transportation Alternatives’ agenda, triple and double prime voters do not. They trend older, richer, more conservative, and they drive more than average New Yorkers.

Well, it turns out that the conventional wisdom is wrong. With the support of Bikes Belong and T.A. members Tom Kempner, Priscilla Woods and Adam Wolfensohn, T.A. hired the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland to find out what triple prime and other likely voters in New York City really think about our issues.

  • 64 percent of likely Democratic primary voters support bike lanes.
  • 10 to 1, New York voters believe that cycling rates will increase in the next five years.
  • And the “health of our transit system” ranks right up there with “creating jobs” as a “very important issue” for New York City voters.
Armed with these numbers, we are now making the rounds, having our own quiet discussions with politicians. They’re not about beef.


Paul Steely White
Executive Director
Transportation Alternatives