Being the tallest mayor in New York City’s history has its shortcomings.
Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s administration learned that recently as it searched for smaller eco-friendly cars to replace the fleet of larger hybrid SUVs used to chauffeur him around. Most hybrid vehicles don’t have the space to accommodate the politician’s 6-foot-5-inch frame.
“We’re in the process of looking at alternative hybrid car options, which turn out to be quite a bit more limited for a guy his size,” his spokesman, Eric Phillips, said in an email.
Mr. de Blasio is already driven in a hybrid Chevy Tahoe, but his office would like something even more fuel-efficient and smaller, the spokesman said. The mayor is often criticized for his near-daily car rides to the YMCA gym in Brooklyn, miles from his home at Gracie Mansion.
Alistair Weaver, the vice president and editor in chief of car website Edmunds.com., said the energy savings come with a trade-off.
“Hybrid cars always gravitate toward smaller, lighter cars, rather than large SUVs,” he said, noting that the large cars would need more electricity to lug them around.
Mr. Weaver, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall, said hybrid technology is moving toward larger cars for practical reasons, and not just for politicians. “It’s about coming up with a vehicle that is as efficient as possible,” he said. “As the mayor, you need your space.”
Thanks to his height, Mayor Bill de Blasio can always be spotted at an event. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Joseph P. Viteritti, the chair of the urban policy and planning department at New-York-based Hunter College and the author of “The Pragmatist: Bill de Blasio’s Quest to Save the Soul of New York,” said how the mayor gets around illustrates larger priorities.
“I think it’s symbolic,” he said, especially as Mr. de Blasio has taken on major climate change initiatives, like divesting the city’s pension funds away from fossil fuels.
His security detail has to factor in safety and practicality when figuring out how he travels.
“And he’s a target—he’s a very big target,” Mr. Viteritti said.
When Mr. de Blasio took office in 2014, the mayoralty grew by nearly a foot. His predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who served for 12 years, is 5 feet 8 inches tall. The closest New York City mayor in height to de Blasio is John Lindsay, who served from 1966 to 1973.
The mayor’s administration also recently had to check to see if another set of wheels was fit for him on the ground.
In July, the day before the city planned to launch a new bike-sharing program on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, a representative from New York City’s Department of Transportation called employees of the Pace bike company. The official wanted to know if the company’s blue and white bikes could fit a 6-foot-5-inch man, the Pace spokeswoman said.
Mr. de Blasio rode a bike on the boardwalk at the official launch.
Corrections & Amplifications
Mr. de Blasio is already driven in a hybrid SUV, and his administration is looking to replace it with a smaller hybrid vehicle. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that the mayor’s car wasn’t a hybrid and the city was looking for a hybrid vehicle.