Chuck Schumer rolled all over us.
The state’s famously cycling senior senator continued to dodge our questions about his opinion of the bike lane that runs in front of his Prospect Park West home.
The avid bicyclist is in the unenviable position of being married to former city Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, who is one of the biggest foes of the world’s most controversial bike lane.
As such, Schumer has flatly refused to comment on the most controversial patch of earth this side of the Gaza Strip.
And when this reporter cornered him at the Staten Island Democratic Party dinner on Thursday, the senator’s usual eloquence again hit a oratorical pothole.
“I haven’t been commenting on that,” Schumer said.
But this reporter pressed on, asking whether Schumer used the infamous bike lane. The senator, who is known to bike to events on weekend, ignored the question and turned away.
This reporter followed.
We asked general questions, such as where Schumer likes to bike in his neighborhood, but the senator pushed through the crowd and continued to press the flesh with union bosses and Staten Island pols who had gathered to mingle and enjoy a meal of pasta and prime rib.
An aide offered only that Schumer “bikes all over the city.”
“But does he use a bike lane?” this reporter asked.
The aide just laughed.
This fixed-gear reporter tried again as Schumer was exiting, but the senator again ignored him.
Schumer’s reluctance to go on the record about his bicycling habits has been a strange subplot to the story of the most notorious bicycle path in human history, given that the senator’s love for his green Bianchi is almost as well-documented as his wife’s disdain for the bike lane.
Weinshall spearheaded the group that sued the city after it installed the two-lane path along Prospect Park West.
E-mails from members of that group — which were uncovered in a freedom-of-information requests by the Streetsblog website — later raised questions about whether the group tried to use its access to the senator to convince the city to ditch the lane.
In an e-mail from last December, former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel — who is also a leader of the opposition group, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — wrote a shorthand letter to Weinshall about the bike lane, noting, “Heard abt a purported conversation betwn the mayor and our sr. senator you might find of interest.”
In a second e-mail, the group’s unofficial leader Louise Hainline wrote to a fellow lane opponent, saying, “Schumer can’t help much with this issue, but I have seen him and he doesn’t like the lane.”
Apparently, Schumer is talking to someone.
Check back for updates on this evolving — make that revolving — story.Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@c
©2011 Community News Group
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