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New DOT Head Follows Polarizing Tenure of Previous Commissioner

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There was perhaps no more polarizing figure in the Bloomberg administration than his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, who made both fans and enemies by re-configuring city streets to better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. Now, the question is whether Bill de Blasio's pick to succeed her will continue that legacy. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

From bike lanes to pedestrian plazas to bike share, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan left an imprint, and early indications are her successor, Polly Trottenberg, mirrors her sensibilities.

"This administration is going to be committed to expanding the use of bikes," Trottenberg said.

Introduced last Tuesday as Mayor Bill de Blasio's pick to head the city's Department of Transportation, both she and the mayor spoke of expanding express bus routes known as Select Bus Service, and both emphasized something called Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries.

"This is a very positive, very encouraging appointment," said Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives.

Advocates for cyclists and pedestrian safety cheered the pick, but predicted that Trottenberg will chart her own course.

"Polly is such a star in the field that I think she will put her own mark on her own agency," White said.

Most recently the third-ranking official at the federal transportation department, Trottenberg's long career in policy also includes stints at the Port Authority and as legislative director for Sen. Charles Schumer.

"When Bill de Blasio told me before he even mentioned it to Polly that he was considering her for DOT commissioner here in New York, I was overjoyed," Schumer said. "No one will do a better job."

Supporters of pedestrian plazas like the one in Times Square had concerns that de Blasio might reverse some of these initiatives. In particular, they were alarmed by statements he made as a candidate, including one at a debate back in October.

When asked if he would "take out the tables and chairs from Times Square and Herald Square, and re-open Broadway," de Blasio responded, "I have profoundly mixed feelings on this issue," and added, "For me, the jury's out on that particular question."

Trottenberg was asked about the subject last week.

"We're going to take a look also at pedestrian plazas, but we're going to make sure that we do it in a respectful way," she said.

It's a signal the administration will seek to be inclusive in its decision-making.

There is no word yet on when exactly Trottenberg starts her new job. ClientIP:,, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP