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Big bust! Snow ruins topless protest on Bedford Avenue

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For the second time in a week, bicyclists’ attempts to protest the city’s removal of the Bedford Avenue bike lane were foiled by the weather.

Several cyclists who had planned to ride topless through Williamsburg on Saturday afternoon said the below-freezing temperatures and pelting snow had forced that portion of the protest to be scrubbed.

But the message was the same as last Sunday, when a group of five cyclists (watched by 15 cops) performed a similar “freedom ride” to demand the return of the 14-block bike lane between Flushing Avenue and Division Street — which some bikers believe was eliminated as a favor to the Hasidic community.

“They removed it because the Hasidic residents just don’t want to see scantily clad women,” said Heather Loop, the event’s would-be Lady Godiva.

Despite the snow, a group of about 15 — and a van full of cops — left the Brooklyn Wreck Room on Flushing Avenue between Central and Evergreen avenues near dusk, timing their departure to the end of the Jewish Sabbath. Some riders pointed out that their excessive clothing made it just a bike ride, while others agreed that its iconic purpose was to show that the lane would be used properly if it were repainted by the city (or by vandals, as happened earlier this month).

Onlookers and the media were also on hand for the ride — one round trip through the Hasidic portion of Williamsburg — but some found it anticlimactic and uneventful.

But that’s exactly what other advocates called for last week after Loop had announced her intention of going topless.

Transportation Alternatives had released a statement to suggest that “rhetoric or acts that pit neighbors against one another are not just irrelevant to this discussion, they are flat-out offensive. Meanwhile, Hasidic activist Isaac Abraham cautioned Loop not to “take out your anger and frustration … on the entire community, when it was only one individual who stated that ‘the dress code’ was the problem.

“The entire community [has] always stated that safety and parking was the issue,” he added.

Updated 1:37 pm, December 21, 2009: Story was updated to include a comment from Isaac Abraham
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Reader Feedback

Dav from williamsburg says:
Activist Isaac Abraham is having a perfect point. The issue is safety for the school kids, must of the bikers having an attitude for pedestrians especially when comes to safety of our children!!
The only problem is people in the community are trying to play a roll not disusing with anybody with out knowing the real facts!! Yes we all remember one individual who stated that ‘the dress code’ was the problem and the same time being members of community board
1” happens to be a Hasid he is just being a puppet and talks too much, the point is “if you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen”. So let go back the point is safety safety safety!!!…
Dec. 20, 2009, 11:56 pm
L E from 11211 says:
Heather,

Wana go topless ?
No problem, but don't use this issue as an excuse,
btw. Sweden or Norway would be a better place to take your twisted mind to.

L E
Dec. 21, 2009, 9:52 am
Ed from Brooklyn says:
What protest is this? There were more police cars than bikers… a total bunch of knuckleheads looser...
Dec. 21, 2009, 4:45 pm
Shimon wiser from williamsburg says:
yea if you fight against david neiderman or vito lopez your a looser
Dec. 21, 2009, 11:05 pm
Josh Karpf from Park Slope says:
Willamsburg would never have diversified if the Orthodox, who raise large families despite relatively low income, hadn't gotten the once more industrial neighborhood rezoned for more residential use so their community could grow more comfortably.

But with the expansion of living space, more than progressive people and wealth flowed in -- so did secular values. The Orthodox, unhappy with the result, have opposed not only the bike lines, but advertising billboards featuring men and women socializing together in bathing suits, and a balcony for the pool deck of a newly constructed hotel. Not because of "safety," but because their narrow lifestyle, whose limits they apparently want to impose on others outside their community.

You can find plenty of news quotes over the past several years from the Willamsburg Orthodox -- especially in this paper! -- about their dislike of secular values infringing on what was once mostly their neighborhood. "Safety for the school kids" is late and insincere PR.

Transportation Alternatives, the best public-transit group in the city, should not have backpedaled on this protest out of fear of criticizing Orthodox prudish, misogynistic religious practices.
Dec. 22, 2009, 10:54 am
LISA from WILLIAMSBURG says:
THIS WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE 2009 BIG BUST BIKE RIDE, Its all because Heather started the wrong way with this naked stuff
Dec. 23, 2009, 1:59 pm
Dav from Greenpoint says:
Heather lost because the weather!!! Big time…
Dec. 23, 2009, 4:51 pm
Rabbi Barasa Marrabi from Williamsburg says:
They think we are upset by seeing the human body, we aren't at all - unless they are out of shape, self satisfied, hipster girls with little beer bellies from all the pabst and brooklyn lager they drink. Work on your bods and then we won't care! I mean who wants to see your exposed flesh? Make it something worth seeing and then we'll quit our complaining!
Dec. 26, 2009, 9:05 am

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