As criticism over Mayor Bill de Blasio's tardiness grows, he is nevertheless rejecting a mode of transportation available to New York City mayors: the helicopter. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
New York is massive, and it can take hours to travel from one end of the city to the other, but mayors here actually have the ability to bypass traffic-clogged streets when they need to. They can use police helicopters to jet around the five boroughs.
It's an idea that you might expect to be appealing to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is known for being chronically tardy. This week, he was late to mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Before that, he was late to the St. Patrick's parade in the Rockaways.
NY1 caught up with the mayor this morning in Park Slope, his old neighborhood in Brooklyn. He was leaving the YMCA, where he still works out regularly, even though he now lives 10 miles away in Gracie Mansion.
Rauh: You've been taking some heat for tardiness lately. Some past mayors have used a helicopter, a police helicopter to get around. Have you?
de Blasio: Not my thing.
Rauh: Not your thing? Why not?
de Blasio: It's just not my thing. I prefer to be on the ground. Got to go now.
De Blasio's reluctance to hop on a helicopter is a break from past tradition. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a big fan of helicopters and enjoyed piloting them himself. He would travel in his own helicopter to Albany and use it on the weekends as well.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his police commissioner used police helicopters to fly to everything from emergencies to press conferences.
Mayor David Dinkins used them much less frequently, but Arnaldo Segarra, a former aide to Dinkins, said he did ride in them a handful of times.
"He didn't like helicopters. And those times that he did use them was because they had to go, a police officer got shot, a fireman got injured, so we had to visit the hospitals and also visit with the families," Segarra said..
Mayor Ed Koch, on the other hand, was a regular rider.
"He used it to go to the outskirts of the city, rather than use the car, which would take up too much time," said George Arzt, a former aide to Koch.
After facing so much criticism for his tardiness, de Blasio does seem to be making some effort to improve things. A bill signing ceremony at City Hall started right on time.