What was Mike Bloomberg thinking? That’s what many New Yorkers were wondering, in decidedly less polite terms, when they heard about their mayor’s proposed ban on supersize sugary soft drinks (see Talking points). Bloomberg, a popular three-term mayor who has banished smoking in city parks and trans fats from restaurants, went too far this time, said a majority of New Yorkers in a poll this week. In fact, 65 percent of Americans polled were sour on Bloomberg’s well-intentioned but nonsensical sugar ban, which Jon Stewart skewered as combining “the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect.”
But let’s not forget that Mayor Mike has proved that imposed change can be a good thing. Despite withering opposition, there are now bike lanes in Midtown and café tables in the middle of Times Square, reborn as a pedestrian mall. I walked down Broadway on a recent evening, and the streets were brightly lit and humming with activity. Human-size cartoon characters like Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse posed for photos with nervous children as their parents beamed. To someone who can recall the seedy New York of the ’70s, when Times Square was overrun with hustlers and juiceheads, the transformation engineered by Rudy Giuliani and carried on by Bloomberg is mind-boggling. I had to stop my cynical New York soul from wondering whether Mickey and Kitty were actually pickpockets with giant fuzzy heads. So, Mr. Mayor, well done! Now, if your soda ban fizzles, may I offer a suggestion for a safer New York? Let’s throw the book at these miscreants who insist on texting while crossing our crowded city streets. I’ll drink to that.