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Cover up! Bike advocacy group calls for no topless ride on Bedford tomorrow

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At least one group of bicycle activists is not excited by the planned Bedford Avenue topless bike protest through the Hasidic portion of Williamsburg on Saturday night.

Transportation Alternatives, the advocacy group, just sent over this statement, urging people to keep their tops on if they truly support the reinstallation of the cycle path between Flushing Avenue and Division Street, which the city unceremoniously removed last month.

“A bike lane on Bedford Avenue is about transportation and road safety,” the Transportation Alternatives’ statement said. “Rhetoric or acts that pit neighbors against one another are not just irrelevant to this discussion, they are flat-out offensive. A bike ride of people in provocative undress doesn’t make Bedford any safer, and undermines efforts to bring north Brooklynites together to solve this problem.”

Organizers of Saturday’s sundown showdown say they will dress provocatively in an effort to shock Hasidic residents — some of whom have complained about the bike lane because its users tend to wear skintight or skimpy garments.

Cyclist Heather Loop said that she and at least 50 other bikers will ride in their underwear because if the Hasidim “can’t handle scantily clad women [they should] live in a place where you can have your own sanctuary, like upstate.”

Public nudity laws are on Loop’s side for the half-Monty “freedom ride” from The Wreck Room near the corner of Bedford and Flushing avenues up to Division Street.

Hours after we received Transportation Alternatives’ statement, we received another from Hasidic activist — and failed City Council candidate — Isaac Abraham, who also condemned the nude romp in an open letter to the bike activists.

“We urge and plead with you to reconsider the way the people want to protest and respect the religious believes of our community as well as the moral and respect of all New Yorkers, proceeding with your plan is and will be an insult to the entire Jewish community,” he said.

“Don’t take out your anger and frustration of the bike lane removal 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.”

Updated 1:26 pm, December 18, 2009: Story was updated to include a comment from Isaac Abraham
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Reader Feedback

Dav from Clinton hill says:
provocative undress doesn’t make Bedford any safer, and undermines efforts to bring north Brooklynites together to solve this problem.”
perfect point!!
Dec. 18, 2009, 12:40 pm
Mike from Ft Greene says:
"Safety and parking" is BS too. The Bedford Ave bike lane did not take away a single parking spot. And bike lanes improve safety. The only explanation that makes sense is that they just don't like bikes and the people who ride them. It's a shame -- a lot of the people in that community look like they could use some exercise.
Dec. 18, 2009, 2:48 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
only if you are folloing thr rools...
Dec. 18, 2009, 3:55 pm
Bomberpete from Stuy Town says:
TA is right to denounce this. The topless ride is stupid. What will antagonizing the community accomplish? Zilch. They'll get press coverage, yes, but also pneumonia.

Plus I think the cops are going to "misinterpret" the public nudity laws and arrest them anyway. Not my idea of a fun afternoon.
Dec. 18, 2009, 4:14 pm
Bomberpete from Stuy Town says:
TA is right to denounce this. The topless ride is stupid. What will antagonizing the community accomplish? Zilch. They'll get press coverage, yes, but also pneumonia. Plus I think the cops are going to "misinterpret" the public nudity laws and arrest them anyway. And riders will still use Bedford Avenue, bike lane or not.
Dec. 18, 2009, 4:17 pm
robthomaseyes from Brooklyn says:
Good for them. Women in this country have rights. If these religious nuts don't like that, they can move to Israel where apparently women are stoned and tortured with acid for wearing "immodest" clothing. You want immodest? You got it.
Dec. 18, 2009, 4:47 pm
newsriffs from Williamsburg says:
I'd probably wait for a warmer weekend. However, if they are undressed withing legal limits, and scanty clothing is legal, then it's up to the holy men to avert their own eyes.

Every weekend that I'm at Miss Favela, on S.5th Street, some yeshiva boy slips into the club to stare at the mixed dancing.

The removal of the bike lane, because it violates someone's religious sensibilities is a violation of our Constitutional law.

In this country, the Constitution is our Torah. So, their behavior towards our Torah, the Constitution, is no different from the Nazis who cut up the parchment scrolls of Torahs to make playing cards.

Why is it always the religious whose sensibilities we must respect. Shouldn't they respect our holy document?

Our faith is freedom, their faith is the strict observance of their interpretation of a book of Bronze-Age shepherd's tales.

Dec. 18, 2009, 6:09 pm
water804 from Williamsburg says:
To be entirely legal its a good idea for women to wear pasties if they are going to ride topless. Personally, having done it, (not in NYC) I have found that most people are pleasantly surprised to see a topless woman on a bicycle- or several naked riders, as in the World Naked Bike Ride. Breasts also have a traffic calming effect. I've seen it happen!
If these particular men can't be looking at scantily clad/partially clad/naked women, how do they get through their lives? Billboards, magazines, advertising of all types feature plenty of that sort of thing. Our culture is obsessed with the female body and with breasts in particular. In summer plenty of people on the street wear minimal clothing. Maybe they should not allow sidewalks and billboards too. I think this is about hating bicyclists and wishing they would disappear.
The world needs more love for female bodies, for healthy, active forms of transportation, and for safe bicycling.
Dec. 18, 2009, 7:29 pm
Christopher from Oak Park says:
What will antagonizing the community accomplish? Well when you antagonize the bike community you get nude cyclist in your face. I think it is wrong to antagonize the cycling community. Share the roads, encourage the city to paint bike lanes. Religious tolerance is a two way street as is tolerance for people who choose not to polute our air. We belive one should not destroy that which God created. Car drivers as a group are not mindfull of that which they destroy or harm. They do not share well or take care of the world God created. Riding a bike undressed is disrespectfull to to people, harming the earth is disrespectfull to God. I guess the Jews are right, drive a car!
Dec. 18, 2009, 10:02 pm
AVATAR from Phoenix says:
It has been legal for women to be topless in New York since 1992, men since the 1930s. If the Jews don't like equal rights they should move to Israel.
Dec. 18, 2009, 10:58 pm
Campbell from Brooklyn says:
It feels so liberating to bash the jews in open form. but i joined the hipster world with the belief that we love and appreciate differences not encourage them to move because the're different.
Dec. 19, 2009, 11:59 pm
Yankel from Williamsburg says:
Being A HasId myself i must say that the safety of our kids is a real concern. i have seen kids being hit by bikes while leaving their buses. i'm not blaming the bikers in general just those who drive brainless, probably the ones who planned on the topless.
Dec. 20, 2009, 12:05 am
Jeff the Chef from Greenpoint, Brooklyn says:
Note to all hasidim, don't worry. i've seen Ms. loop before, you'll have to look at her knees to find the gems. In all nude protests i've never seen young or attractive people.
Dec. 20, 2009, 12:12 am
Black-eye says:
This country was founded so that people could have freedom. One large type of freedom that is included is religious freedom. I think that it's proper and polite for people to consider others' beliefs. If a community thinks that covering your body is proper, and a group of people wears scant clothing near their community, then they have a right to be upset. The rules and laws of our nation should also reflect that respect of their beliefs. I doubt the Jewish people are claiming that the female body is not beautiful. To the contrary, part of their concern is that it's very beautiful but also sacred, and should not be flaunted to everyone. If lust is a sin, then yes the men should turn their eyes when a beautiful woman is around. But shouldn't the rest of our society respect their preferences and help them follow their beliefs, at least when it's convenient? Don't wear a dress and head covering on your bike, but maybe knee-length shorts and a loose t-shirt??
Dec. 20, 2009, 9:23 am
Lucy from Bushwick says:
Topless protests won't do anything, if you really want to affect change you have to show you vag.
Dec. 26, 2009, 8:57 am
Clara from Greenpoint says:
Hello, Ladies that are dying to go topless, we all know that you are not promoting anything re bikes in favor, you just want attention by flaunting your body. Get on with your life and get satisfaction from your own type and dont look for attention in other neighborhoods, If you really meant a bike lane you wouldnt divert the attention to the bike lane by showing your body. That is a beautiful way to bring up your kids if you plan to have any. Ms Loop is this the message to your future daughters and family? It shows that the most important thing in life is flaunting your breasts, it shows lack of intelligence, class, modesty, It is the wrong show of feminisim.
You dont have to wear headcovering or Hasidic clothing, but by picking up the modesty of the Hasidics and fighting against it, you surely are not looking to promote bike lanes, so lay off!!! You dont deserve to get the bike lanes back.
Dec. 27, 2009, 3:57 am
Vima from Williamsburg says:
I love how people selectively read this article. From the information given (providing Mr. Abraham is telling the truth), only a small segment of the community protested on account of "scantily dressed" bikers. Hardly anything that should incite such a provocative protest, much less some of the more hateful comments here. Though its not clear whether such a discussion has happened in the past, it seems as if what's missing is a respectful talk in which both sides present their concerns...if safety really is the thing for the anti-bike laners, then it should be easy for the bikers to prove their point. I doubt that anyone would be in favor of more traffic accidents and people periodically run down on sidewalks...
Dec. 29, 2009, 1:08 pm

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