Bike lane? What bike lane? Drivers, cyclists clash over Bedford Avenue

The Brooklyn Paper
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The clash of cultures over a Williamsburg bike route has gotten physical.

Orthodox Jewish motorists collided with cyclists and fought them in the street several times last month while the bike riders use a dangerous stetch of Bedford Avenue that once included a bike lane until it was removed by the city last year after complaints from drivers.

A bus driver even trapped cyclist Christine Sandoval against a parked car near Flushing Avenue as she was commuting to work on April 15.

But the blowhard screamed at the cyclist, even kicking her bike in anger.

“The driver and another man grabbed my arm and masses of Hasidic people started to gather around,” said Sandoval. “I needed to flee. I was in a lot of danger.”

Three days later, her husband saw a cyclist get hit by a car on Bedford Avenue, and a day later, she saw another confrontation between Hasidic residents and cyclists.

Now the Bedford-Stuyvesant resident avoids taking Bedford at all because of the incidents.

She’s not alone.

Cycling advocates have been grumbling for months about double-parked cars and aggressive harassment from drivers in South Williamsburg, where the 15-block bike lane between Flushing and Division avenues once carved out a space for bikers until the city removed it 18 months ago after complaints from Hasidic residents. Vigilantes repainted the lane in an act of protest vandalism, setting off tense relationships between cyclists and Hasidic motorists that continues to this day.

Now conflict has broken out over a one-block section of the lane that remains between Flushing and Park avenues.

Hasidic leaders say that cyclists should find another route.

“You have a densely populated area that hundreds of people cross those streets every single day,” said former Council candidate Isaac Abraham. “You’ve got a ballroom, two schools and five synagogues. Traffic there is tremendous.”

Williamsburg bike maven Baruch Herzfeld, who hosted a debate between bikers and Hasidim last January, says the tension has resulted from the lack of parking spaces in South Williamsburg and not a conflict between Orthodox residents and yuppie cyclists.

“The Hasidim park in the [former] bike lane because there is no other place to park and the city has limited resources to enforce it,” said Herzfeld.

Still, Community Board 1 member Ryan Kuonen avoids Bedford Avenue entirely because she says it’s unsafe.

“There’s a misnomer in Hasidic community that bikers can’t be on that street [because there’s no official bike lane], so they’re more aggressive toward bikers,” said Kuonen. “My roommate got threatened and chased by a bunch of guys late at night. And there’s always massive double-parking there.”

Bike lane or no bike lane, cyclists still take Bedford Avenue because it’s the most direct route from her home to Williamsburg.

Fort Greene resident Sabine Spanjer said she gets into arguments with drivers all the time.

“It’s turned into a mess, they don’t want [cyclists],” said Spanjer. “It’s not right. Everybody has a right to bike.”

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Reader Feedback

Mike from Brooklyn says:
Umm, these people realize we're cyclists and not Palestinians, right?
May 4, 2011, 8:44 am
Steve from Brooklyn says:
Remember, violence against women is so totally okay as long as you're "religious." Just claim you're doing it for God and you can get away with assaulting a woman for riding a bike on a public city street.
May 4, 2011, 8:45 am
Mike says:
Shameful and disgraceful. This is vehicular assault, and is a crime. Anyone has the legal right to ride their bike on any roadway (other than limited-access highways).
May 4, 2011, 9:15 am
trans alt from bike nation says:
Someday NYC will have a mayor that stands up to this cult. Anytime they don't get their way, they start rioting like the ghetto trash that they are. Even the cops in Borough Park are afraid of them.
May 4, 2011, 9:26 am
kalahari dessert from brooklyn says:
They hate Arabs and cowardly don't even have to serve in the army in apartheid Israel, but they love sucking up and burning Arab oil in their gas-inefficient mini-vans, SUV's and personal school bus transports. They like to look like they live in 1600's, but will gladly take your money at B and H for hi tech gear (and treat you like a second rate customer if you are a woman).
May 4, 2011, 9:27 am
manhatposeur from Manhathan says:
The Hasids shouldnt impose their will on bikers. We need to fight them as hard as radical muslims.
May 4, 2011, 9:40 am
eveostay from prospect hts says:
If the neighborhood doesn't want a public street for all users, it should be closed to all traffic.
May 4, 2011, 9:52 am
Critical Mitzvah from Williamsburg says:
Fact check: The only thing that makes this a "dangerous stretch" are the Hasids who are harassing and assaulting people.

Fact check: The bike lane was not "removed after complaints from drivers." It was removed after Hasidic leaders made a deal with Bloomberg during the last mayoral election.

What is it about the Brooklyn Paper that they insist on not getting it right?
May 4, 2011, 9:56 am
Critical Mitzvah from Williamsburg says:
Fact check: The only thing that makes this a "dangerous stretch" are the Hasids who are harassing and assaulting people.

Fact check: The bike lane was not "removed after complaints from drivers." It was removed after Hasidic leaders made a deal with Bloomberg during the last mayoral election.

What is it about the Brooklyn Paper that they insist on not getting it right?
May 4, 2011, 9:56 am
Critical Mitzvah from Williamsburg says:
Fact check: The only thing that makes this a "dangerous stretch" are the Hasids who are harassing and assaulting people.

Fact check: The bike lane was not "removed after complaints from drivers." It was removed after Hasidic leaders made a deal with Bloomberg during the last mayoral election.

What is it about the Brooklyn Paper that they insist on not getting it right?
May 4, 2011, 9:56 am
Critical Mitzvah from Williamsburg says:
Fact check: The only thing that makes this a "dangerous stretch" are the Hasids who are harassing and assaulting people.

Fact check: The bike lane was not "removed after complaints from drivers." It was removed after Hasidic leaders made a deal with Bloomberg during the last mayoral election.

What is it about the Brooklyn Paper that they insist on not getting it right?
May 4, 2011, 9:56 am
Randy from Williamsburg says:
I cycle in williamsburg and video-record all of my rides. I have countless footage upon footage demonstrating the poor driving of the hassidic community. Not only are they terrible drivers, but they are terrible pedestrians popping out off the sidewalk with their baby carriages always looking the wrong direction.
May 4, 2011, 9:57 am
morralkan from Crown Hts says:
Kalahari dessert, you can disagree with the Hasids' actions, which I find deplorable if these stories are accurate, without having to bring Israel into it. Israeli arabs have full voting rights, are not restricted to ghettos, and do not need to hide their identity in Israel. Compare that to almost every Arab country where Jews are personna non grata, can't wear yamulkas even when they are "tolerated" by those countries, where their synagogues were destroyed, where anti-semitic hate speeches are often the main subject of the weekly rants of "holy" imams, where the Arab media program shows and movies to stoke the fires of hatred for Jews among all members of Muslim society from children to adults, where all Israelis from babies to seniors are considered valid targets of terrorism, ... Need I go on? If you want to look for apartheid lands, you need look no further than almost any Arab/Muslim country who not only pray for their lands, but for the entire earth, to be Judenrein. I'm sure B&H won't miss your business.
May 4, 2011, 10:07 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Friggin' Hasids, they're at approximately the same
evolutionary level as fundamentalist muslims.
I'm reading From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman and apparently even the Israelis hate their guts.
May 4, 2011, 10:21 am
Ken from Greenpoint says:
Bashing Hasids will not salve the problem at all. I do business with them for many years they are very nice and friendly people just understand there are rules and regulations for bikers to follow.
May 4, 2011, 10:24 am
LC from Prospect Heights says:
I have experienced something similar here. I was riding through this area once and was forced over into a parked car by a van of hasidic men. I started yelling at them and said "are you trying to kill me?!" The driver answered, "Yes." Former Council candidate Isaac Abraham's statement is ridiculous. There is massive street crossing in NYC all the time. The hasidic community just thinks they don't have to wait at crosswalks like everyone else, stepping out in front of moving cars and bikes whenever they please. I have also had a man, look me in the eye while riding, then still send his child directly in front me to cross the street and bard a school bus parked diagonally across the entire street. I had to crash into the bus to avoid the child, and then was berated by the hasidic man. Oh, and the cops gave me a ticket for $270 last week for running a red light, through which i crossed with a car that had just run the same light, after hitting a cyclist a block earlier. I was trying to get plate numbers off the car... This city is corrupt.
May 4, 2011, 10:30 am
Julie from Williamsburg says:
I also stopped riding on Bedford Avenue due to the danger and harassment. I continue to ride on streets parallel, however, and it is mostly okay since I always try to bike politely.

Last year, a Yeshiva bus passed me going very fast and very close, pushing me toward the parked cars on my other side. I reported this via 311 but because the yeshiva busses are private, I feel my complaint went into a black hole. In addition, the only reason I was able to get the name of the school is because I read Hebrew.

So . . . it's dangerous and confrontational each time I ride between home and work in Downtown Brooklyn.
May 4, 2011, 10:57 am
kev says:
ahhhhhhh hasids, you gotta love em!
May 4, 2011, 11:04 am
Stu from PPW says:
The World Naked Bike Ride needs to make a detour down this street.
May 4, 2011, 11:18 am
O-Dog from Redhook says:
I have to say that while this community is unfair and racist, cyclists can be a very entitled group of individuals. I own a bike and ride almost every day, and stay away from this area in general, not because of the hasids, but because it is a highly condensed, and traffic induced section of NY filled with schools and such. I am sure there are people that have been unfairly prevoked by this group, but more so, I have seen cyclists in general have total disregard traffic signs and rules. They are constantly driving against traffic, running red lights, and generally speaking give little to no regard for pedestrians, not only in this area but in all areas of NYC, bike lane or none. While I do consider myself a bike enthusiast and part of the biking community, we have to accept some ownership that no-one seems to break the road rules more then cyclists.
May 4, 2011, 11:18 am
Jym from PLG says:
@Ken from Greenpoint - I'm with you on not smearing an entire group. Vehicular assault followed by physical assault is criminal, and not limited to Hasids at all.
May 4, 2011, 11:20 am
Jenny from Greenpoint says:
I don't ride a bike but I've seen how Hasidic's drive and its scary as F***. If I did cycle, I'd avoid that area at all costs; even without the added aggression.
May 4, 2011, 11:26 am
Chris Mcnally from Crown Heights says:
I ride Bedford from Atlantic Ave to Flushing ave daily. This week I noticed two delivery trucks parked beside the bike lane instead of in it. I said to one of the drivers "I appreciate that, thanks" and then after passing a few cars that were in the bike lane I heard the NYPD behind me yelling over their loud speakers "move your car out of the bike lane"

I think delivery trucks need loading zones on that side of Bedford so that they do not cause accidents for cyclists. It's dangerous to have to keep moving from the bike lane into traffic to avoid double parked cars.
May 4, 2011, 12:23 pm
Mike from Brooklyn says:
When it's very hot during the summer, I used to ride on Bedford with no shirt on. I think I may be doing that more often this year and I encourage everyone to also. Especially on Shabbas. Remember, operating a vehicle is forbidden for them on Shabbas, so the street would be a lot safer. They need to learn that city streets are publicly owned, not governed by the Talmud, or whatever book of religious fairy tales they adhere to.
May 4, 2011, 1 pm
mc from Williamsburg says:
Solution to this problem is all bikers should ride with a little camera fixed to their helmets. This will record all incidents. These cameras are cheap.
This can be a proof to either start a law suite against drivers, bus operators or at least lobby with the city.
I think after few lost law suites hasidics will be less likely to fight with bikers.
Bicycles have full right to use the street anywhere in NYC.
May 4, 2011, 1:31 pm
Nat from Clinton Hill says:
it happens to be i like mini vans....
May 4, 2011, 1:32 pm
mellifluous from formerly Brooklyn says:
Once two cyclists I know were able to coerce a Hasidic driver into apologizing for harassing them along Flushing. The driver, in an SUV, had leaned on his horn and sped past them, only to have to stop at a nearby light. One of the cyclists pulled up to the driver's side and said along the lines of, "Why did you have to do that just now? We're not out to hurt you. Come on, you're a man of God, is that all really necessary?" The driver reconsidered and apologized.
I think it's odd that some of these altercations are being reported as violent...I don't doubt that cyclists feel endangered but it seems really strange that Hasidic individuals would act out in such a manner unprovoked. Aren't they forbidden to touch women (a la Ms Sandoval's story), not just by a citizen's code of genial conduct but according to their religious laws?
May 4, 2011, 1:35 pm
Lord Chumley from Williamsburg says:
There in lies the problem. People think that disrespecting thier religion by streaking or sueing them will make them behave differently, when in fact it will just enrage them more and probably cause more accidents. I suspect that a large portion of these incidents might be provoked by the cyclists themselves and as we all know, they tend to be the most entitled on the road. At any given time, I can see a cyclist running a red, weaving in and out of traffic, driving on the sidewalk, but god forbid, you are double parked and unloading in thier path and they come down on you like all hell. While I am certian many of this isolated incidents from the satmar are not instigated, I find it hard to believe that these cyclists are victimless. At the end of the day, the majority of them are an insanely hypocritical group of entitled and selfish individuals.
May 4, 2011, 1:53 pm
Chris from Bushwick says:
I'm sick and tired of seeing comments like, "this is unacceptable, BUT cyclists are arrogant and selfish."

Can't you all just, for once, shut up about what cyclists do wrong when commenting about a story where they're the victims of a crime? Look, I hate cyclists that break traffic laws and I never run red lights or ride against traffic myself, but breaking traffic laws are no justification for CRIMINAL acts, no matter who the victim is.

And, please, refrain from the anti-semitism.

Of course, I expect none of the above to happen, because these are the comments of a news website, and racist, hateful comments are just par for the course.
May 4, 2011, 2:04 pm
Josh from Wburg says:
I believe an awful lot of the commentary above is rooted in anti- semitism, and I am not Jewish I should add. If you look at the history of anti-semitism it probably can be traced back to the 3rd century when Constantine converted, and onward through the Crusades and the Holocaust. They are a "cult"? They should be treated like Muslim terorists? I don't agree.
May 4, 2011, 2:07 pm
bryan from williamsburg says:
Bikers need to watch where they are going... everyday bikers are cutting me off on bedford ave. You bikers have your bike lanes now stick to it.. its not fair that us as drivers have to watch out for bikers when they dont stick to there bike lanes. Its not fair.. if everyone just went back to where they came from we wouldnt have this problem DUDE..
May 4, 2011, 2:16 pm
Kalahari Dessert from Brooklyn says:
morralkan from Crown Hts. No mater how hard you try to convince yourself, Israel is an apartheid state. I would NEVER want to be an Arab in Israel. Absolutely no future as an Arab in Israel. The self-righteous, arrogant Israeli govt is also obsessed with annexing more and more territory and dividing up the geography so that they control all the resources (sounds a bit like a Williamsburg landlord and also the bike controversy!!!). Your writing makes you seem as if blinded by propaganda. You probably believe that you are an enlightened, liberal person and can throw a few bones to other races and religions, yet are certain without a doubt you are above any non-Jew. I agree, by the way, with your take on most Arab state governments. The way I look at it, religious Arabs and Israelis deserve each other. But we need to make sure they don't screw up the rest of the world—and in this smaller controversy, stop people from riding bicycles on "their" streets.
May 4, 2011, 2:26 pm
sick of these arguements says:
2 sets of Aholes havin an arguement.. whats new?
May 4, 2011, 2:27 pm
Mikel from Gereenpoint says:
Guys stop acting like bunch of babies! The fact bikers need to follow rules and regulations stay in bike lane not middle of the street, stop for red flashers of school buses, use hand signals, don’t ride against traffic, use helmets for safety, etc. remember give and take “give respect get respect” it’s a two way street..…
Biker’s need some education how to share the road drivers get upset how bikers are just squeezing between cars and trucks etc. god forbid something happens they totally ignore and drive off and no responsibility what’s so ever....
May 4, 2011, 2:33 pm
Jack The Tripper from city says:
Maybe the female bike riders should hit that stretch riding in bikinis.
May 4, 2011, 2:47 pm
Chris from Bushwick says:
"You bikers have your bike lanes now stick to it.. its not fair that us as drivers have to watch out for bikers when they dont stick to there bike lanes."

Bryan, it may shock you to learn that cyclists are allowed to ride outside the bike lanes whenever they are blocked (constantly), potholed (regularly), or when they're making turns. And the law requiring cyclists to use a bike lane on a street with a bike lane is usurped by another law that states they can ride on either side of a one-way street more than 40 feet wide (like Bedford).

Also, they're allowed to ride on any street, regardless of whether or not it has a bike lane. That's the law. Period.

It's scary how people behind the wheel of a car try to scold cyclists about not following the law when they don't even know the laws themselves.

That the community now wants to remove to lane between Flushing and Park is absurd, since the city's entire [questionable] justification for removing the lane north of Bedford is that they would eventually provide a lane on Flushing to connect Bedford to the Kent bike lane. Once you hit Flushing, there's no bike lane to use in any direction.
May 4, 2011, 2:57 pm
person from place says:
I think it's gosh darn crazy that most of you commentators have turned this article into a battle of religion. First of all, the author, whoever you are, you should find a better way to articulate your dissatisfaction with this problem and not point fingers at a specific group of people... if you have ever paid any attention to history at all, ever, i think you would understand that is a HUGE problem on many many levels (Brooklyn paper, as I'm sure many of you are liberal, left sided or whatever you want to call it, this is spreading hate in subtle ways it seems none of you understand) The point of the matter is, people do harm to people. Would you ever go so far to say that is is only blacks who rape, spanish people who steal, gays who ruin the community.... i think not. so please stop contradicting yourself and write something with VALIDITY instead of making youre argument invalid by subjecting it to your personal opinion and lack of consideration for an entire group of people.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human
stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."- Albert Einstein
May 4, 2011, 3:52 pm
morralkan from Crown Hts says:
Kalahari Dessert, the fact of the matter is that even though Israeli Arabs may complain about their lot in Israel, whenever Israel in its peace talks broaches the subject of trading land in Israeli Arab communities for Israeli settlements, the first ones to object are the Israeli Arabs. In no way, shape, or form do they want to actually live under Palestinian rule. They know that their lot in Israel is a hell of a lot better than under the rampant corruption of their Palestinian brothers. I think you should revisit the definition of apartheid. Israeli Arabs can attend any of the universities; there are plenty of them enrolled in Hebrew U and Tel Aviv U. Was that they case with blacks in S. Africa. If the Arabs had accepted the partition back in 1948, or in any of the subsequent years since then, when they repeatedly attacked Israel, then there would be no settlements and no "gobbling up." If the area, however, is still disputed because Arabs want to wipe out Israel and slaughter Jews, then the onus is on them, not the Israelis.

What any of this has to do with hasids in Williamsburgh is beyond me. Just because you're an anti-semitic putz doesn't make Israel an apartheid country.
May 4, 2011, 3:55 pm
Clinton Washington from Williamsburg says:
I wish the Hasids and bike riders would both move out of Williamsburg and leave it to us natives of the neighborhood -- in other words, peace-loving normal people, which neither of these groups are. Scram, all of you hipsters, Hasids, fixies and pixies! Let's take back Williamsburg for normal folks!
May 4, 2011, 3:59 pm
Myrtle Willoughby from Williamsburg says:
Not the Pixies! I love the Pixies!
May 4, 2011, 4 pm
Ryan Lee from Greenpoint says:
The first time I encountered a school bus blocking the entire street on Bedford, it was a huge surprise. I was biking behind the bus and the driver didn't put on the blinker or instate the mechanical stop sign most yellow buses have. I almost ran into the back of the vehicle, skidding to a stop. Really dangerous.

They should install a bike lane on this street. It would make it safer for everyone.
May 4, 2011, 4:08 pm
concerned says:
you are a bigot calling someone an anti semite simply for having a different view than yours on certain matters. think about it really hard and you will agree
May 4, 2011, 4:18 pm
lmnop from south williamsburg says:
I live here. I have a right to ride my bike on any street in the neighborhood, bike lane or no. I have had my life threatened more than once while peacefully riding my bike, obeying traffic rules. One of those times, after an aggressive Hassidic man dangerously swerved in front of me in his SUV on the stretch of Bedford ave discussed in the article, I approached his vehicle and respectfully addressed him and requested he practice safe driving with regards to bicyclists, reminding him that he nearly killed me. His reply? "I will gladly help you commit suicide if you like" Why do I deserve to die? I live here. I am not a yuppie, nor a hipster. I am a citizen of the USA and the world. I'm a human on a bike. Another time, while riding on Driggs before it had a bike lane, I was told by an angry and aggressive Hassidic man in yet another SUV that the street with the bike lane was a few streets over (bedford) and that I was supposed to be riding on that street. "That street doesn't go to my house, sir, not to mention it travels in the opposite direction"
I always treat them with respect, but I do not respect them. AT ALL
They push their baby strollers out into the street as if they do not value even their own child's life.
This needs to stop. We have a right to ride our bikes on any street in Brooklyn. We are improving the quality of life by reducing traffic and not polluting the air.
I think the Hassidic men just dont want to see our boobs.
May 4, 2011, 4:36 pm
Mellow Yellow from Bed-Stuy says:
I have always decried non-clothed riding en-masse as un-necessarily provocative. However as the violence and harassment continues, I wonder if the disputed PUBLIC street will receive a visit from the WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE on June 11th.
May 4, 2011, 4:42 pm
Mellow Yellow from Bed-Stuy says:
What I meant to say is "I have always decried non-clothed riding en-masse [up the disputed stretch of Bedford] as un-necessarily provocative."
May 4, 2011, 4:43 pm
David from Clinton Hill says:
how about install carriage lanes ??? summer is around the corner....
May 4, 2011, 4:44 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, don't bring anything in here about Israel or Jews, because this topic has nothing to do with it. If you want to, then go over to that article that talks about the Park Slop Food Co-op with the boycott on Israeli products, because it's more about it. Getting back to the topic, many of the residents never wanted the bike lanes in their neighborhood. They saw it as being forced on them just like many other places throughout the city. A usual, nobody is against people riding bicycles, they just don't think that bike lanes are necessary especially when they are not always used when cars are using the streets more often. The reason why they are double parking or blocking those said lanes is because they lost the spaces they were able to park in originally due to that. Why should a group that uses their own infrastructure less get more priority compared to those use theirs' even more and daily?
May 4, 2011, 4:54 pm
Ray Kelly Jr from Williamsburg says:
Hey Gersh-- how about check into the EXTREME special treatment Hasidic Jews get from NYPD with regard to...

pretty much everything? Starting with parking, vehicle inspections, moving violations etc and upwards to Jew on Jew crime that's gently moved outside Kings Co court system into Rabbinical ones.

This is open secret, known by ** every ** cop and ** every ** citizen, Jewish and Goyische alike, who has a clue about the political THEOCRACY bloc voting allows.
May 4, 2011, 5:34 pm
B from Crown Heights says:
Of course it would be absurd to conclude that there are simply too many cars if there is constantly no parking and everyone has to double park. Can't reach that conclusion because then cycling makes a hell of a lot of sense.

So instead let's normalize illegal parking in flow of traffic lanes, on sidewalks, and in intersections and attack cyclists saying it's too busy a street to let them through.

Anything to avoid having to face the big picture...
May 4, 2011, 6:44 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Hi Tal

If you read the article you would see that there are people biking on Bedford Ave. Some residents of Williamsburg might have felt it was being forced on them, but the only thing they were loosing was the ability to double park without guilt.
May 4, 2011, 6:57 pm
unbelvbl from wlmsbg says:
I was parked on Bedford Ave, on the side where the bike line WAS, and was pulling out of my spot when a cyclist came riding down against traffic. There was a van parked in front of me, so I could not see if anyone was coming, and when I almost hit him, or rather when he almost hit me, HE was the one being mad! So don't give me the your all rightious cyclist crap. Shape up or ship out.
May 4, 2011, 7:15 pm
Kalahari Dessert from Brooklyn says:
morralkan from Crown Hts: There you go, it had to happen. Pulling the self-pitying anti semite whine for dramatic effect. I'm pro-human and pro-nature. Among other things, I'm anti Israeli government and anti religious extremist (Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Bhuddist-you name it)... and anti-Hasiddic arrogance and special treatment when it comes to making it easy for non-petroleum-powered, non-polluting, quiet vehicles passing on the street they happen to live, and clogging up the roadway with giant, oversize SUV's, vans, school buses (what other community clogs the roadways with these giant, fume-spewing beasts?). Like I said, they hate Arabs, but LOVE to suck down their oil, 9 or 10 mpg.

BTW, you are really funny. An Arab going to "Hebrew U and Tel Aviv U?" Yee hah!!!! You really are living in your own head!
May 4, 2011, 7:16 pm
rightious cyclist says:

That was not me
May 4, 2011, 7:40 pm
ride or die from Flatbush says:
I ride that strip every day and I think some of the other comments are exaggerations. Bedford ave past Myrtle definitely becomes somewhat hostile to cyclists but I'll take it over any part of Flatbush ave any day.
May 4, 2011, 8:13 pm
Sam from Bk says:
Can someone get video of this going down?
May 4, 2011, 9:55 pm
not anti semetic from WB says:
i think it does a great disservice to the debate to call those critical of the hassids anti-semitic, as many hassids treat less orthodox jews with disdain. Also you cannot ignore that hassids tend to not have the most welcoming attitudes towards anyone for that matter, whether you are in their neighborhood on bike or on foot.

Yeah many cyclists can be reckless, but they're reckless everywhere and while parking is scarce neither seem to adequately explain the level of tension or confrontation. I don't think it is racist or anti-semitic to say that the issue has to do with the hassids feelings of entitlement rather than the cyclists.
May 5, 2011, 5:31 am
BrianVan from Kips Bay says:
Tal Barzilai, nice to see you in here! How's life in upper Westchester? I just did a ride with NYCC up to the Bedford area last weekend, I think we passed through your neck of the woods on the way over to Tarrytown.

Anyway... I've rode my bicycle on this stretch of Bedford Street, with and without a bike lane. It's not inherently unsafe unless someone does something very unsafe. Which brings me to the main topic of this disturbing report...

First of all, double parking is a violation of traffic rules. It's unsafe and improper use of the roads. No one's personal needs supersede those rules, except for emergency response vehicles.

Let me repeat that: double parking is a violation of traffic rules.

You cannot defend this use of the roads by ANY person or people. It's unlawful, dangerous, and disruptive to traffic.

Second, assault is a crime in the state of New York. I don't care if they're Hasids, hipsters, or Martians... you cannot attack someone for any reason. Shame on you and anyone else in this thread who glosses over the fact that this story is entirely about THAT. It's not about what Hasids want, and it's not about what cyclists want. It's about the safety and lawful behavior of our citizens and neighbors. If anyone is attacking cyclists, regardless of cause, we should not tolerate it! I condemn such behavior, and you should too, unconditionally!

If the Hasidic community is making any sort of organized effort to use force to expel other cultural groups out of their neighborhood... as organized as they were in petitioning for the bike lane to be removed originally... then shame on all of them! That is a sin that goes against every religious moral they were ever taught. And let it hang over all of your heads if cultural hostility leads to a serious injury or death in your community.

We need community leaders, even your spiritual leaders, to speak out against violence and intimidation in South Williamsburg. No excuses and no hesitation! The larger community of New York City will not tolerate violence and open hostility from any individual persons or any ethnic, racial, or spiritual group.
May 5, 2011, 9:28 am
boof from brooklyn says:
Tal, nobody's asking for bike lanes. They are just asking to use a public street without being harassed and physically threatened.
May 5, 2011, 9:54 am
ms nomer from williamspoint says:
Sounds like it's time for another ad campaign from DOT - after they finish the "That's Why It's 30 [mph]" campaign, how about a drivers' awareness campaign to remind them that cyclists can use any street, whether there's a bike lane or not.

More importantly, NYPD and the Mayor should run a parallel ad campaign reminding everyone that grabbing someone on the street is called ASSAULT, which is a criminal offense; surrounding someone on the street and preventing him/her from peacefully leaving the scene can be deemed UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT. Even stopping someone to yell at them is called HARASSMENT and/or INTIMIDATION. All of these behaviors are legally actionable and include fines and/or jail time.

This is serious, physically threatening stuff, people, well beyond the petty religious and ethnic slurs I'm reading here. Can we focus on the aggressive and reckless criminal behavior here?
May 5, 2011, 11:16 am
Mike from Greenpoint says:
Miss Nomer, good point about focusing on illegal behavior which will only escalate into someone getting seriously hurt. I'm worried about that too.

Brooklyn Community Board Number One has a diverse board - there's Hasidim, Poles, Hispanics, Italians and WASP members at all income levels. Its probably one of the most ethnically and economically diverse boards in the City. If you're worried about this issue you should come to the next board meeting and speak during the public session. (You have to sign up to speak 15 minutes prior to meeting start time, so be there BY 6:15pm. I know it's a sacrifice but this is a serious issue.)

Say you're concerned, and want the board to deal with this safety issue which is also obviously a culture-clash problem and ask them for an organized plan to increase awareness and understanding.

Sorry to sound so kumbaya but complaining among ourselves doesn't get us anywhere and in the meantime someone can get hurt- or worse. The media attends cb1 meetings so you'll be heard by the board, by the community and by the city.
May 5, 2011, 11:28 am
Mike from Greenpoint says:
Should have given information for cb1 meeting:

Next board meeting is on Tuesday May 10th at 6:30 (sign up by 6:15!) at the Swingin' Sixties Senior Center which is at 211 Ainslie Street at the corner of Manhattan Avenue.

At the very VERY least please write a letter to the board. Here is their web site:
May 5, 2011, 11:31 am
trainingwheels from NYC says:

tread carefully. you sound pretty awful.
May 5, 2011, 5:54 pm
Miss Williamsburg from Williamsburg says:
I am a Hasidic woman living in Williamsburg.

I am having a hard time reading all these stereotypes (on both sides).
I am pro-biking. I wish our Hasidic community would start biking. I also wish everybody would follow the laws. (The bikers and my fellow Hasidics)

I think most Hasidic and most Hipsters are respectful, nice and normal people. The bad few apples shouldn't reflect on the entire community.

For those proposing a naked bike protest, I don't understand your point. The problem here is all about safety. Not that I or my husband or most people here would care if you ride naked or not. But don't get what the purpose is behind it.

To Jasmine from Park Slope, honestly I am shocked that you can write something like that. I would love to invite you to view my daily life to see how wrong you got it.
(I won't go into the "dirty" part, but let's just say We just finished Passover cleaning by the way!!) I just sent off my tax (before April 15). So I really don't appreciate your stereotyping an entire community especially when it's so bigoted and untrue. I'm sorry if your experience with some of my fellow Hasidics were unpleasant. I am not doubting that you might have had such experiences, because bad apples exist all over. But I wish you wouldn't paint us all with the same paintbrush.

I wish we could all respect each others and co-exist peacefully.
May 5, 2011, 6:15 pm
adam from bedstuy says:
wow, i'm a biker and haven't had any problems but i have seen bikers go too fast, run lights/stop signs all the time there. maybe i'm too polite? furthermore, with all of these anti-semetic/anti-israel nonsense i've been reading here makes me think that a lot of you just want to run down jews for fun. just sayin'
May 5, 2011, 6:52 pm
jaho from williamsburg says:
dose bikers have no respect 4 others the dond obay any laws the dont watch out 4 pedestrian crossing or 4 our kids going 2 there bus & the biker who vidio tapes his biken pls review it carefully 2 c in how many kids he crashed in with out even saying sorry dose biker r acting like dose animel right fighters who wont have no problem killing a human 4 wareing a fur hat or leather pocket book the r the same the feel the r green ppl helping out god 2 preserv his world from dose pollutionist who r driving those big suvs in any case if u look close on that picture u can c that the biker was tryin 2 brake down the mirror of that van so pls gimi a brake
May 5, 2011, 8:39 pm
Mike says:
jaho: punctuation is your friend. so is spelling. try them.
May 6, 2011, 12:14 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Yea, and I thought I had issues with grammar.
May 6, 2011, 6:50 am
Manhatposeur from manhathan says:
Im sorry but the anti-semitism only drives up & it is even generated from un-orthodox Jews. But that being said, the Hassids consider there non-observant Jews subhuman and all us gentiles as animals.
That being said, they have no right to stop me from peacefully riding my bike in a lawful manner.
May 6, 2011, 12:07 pm
VoiceOfTruth from 11211 says:
If the hassids don't like living alongside other humans, they can move out to country and live in enclosed communities. Otherwise your religion has no place in the public square and you have no right to lay hands on people who ride bikes, assault is illegal. You don't own the city. Bikes can use bike lanes, or they can use the regular roads. That is the law
May 6, 2011, 12:56 pm
Jasmine from Park Slope says:
Sorry Miss Williamsburg, but it's common knowledge that the Hasidic community is on welfare with 10 kids each. I grew up in Monroe NY, have relative and friends on the town council and worked with many Hasidic people. They do not pay taxes. I have met nice ones who I can talk to (not about these issues though) and one I know who writes a blog about being a Hasidic female. I have no hatred for anyone. I am a 100% complete Liberal progressive secular humanist. But camping upstate near a hasidic camp and seeing the fast driving and the trash thrown around, these are the conclusions I come to. Perhaps you are Orthodox and not hasidic? I know many Orthodox Jews who are friends of mine and very nice. Hasidic men would harass my friend at work because she wears a Star of David and she is "not a real Jew". I don't know what your story is, and I know all about Passover cleaning (for Kosher purposes) but that is different than littering the streets. Walking in Wmsburg you can see it everywhere.
May 6, 2011, 3:19 pm
Jasmine from Park Slope says:
@trainingwheels: what did I say that was not true?
May 6, 2011, 3:23 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I can see that bike zealouts have ganged up on me once again. Anyway, I will not argue with the way many of these Hasidics act when it comes to driving and parking, but the cyclists need to play their part as well. I don't think that they are against cyclists, and neither am I, but the way cyclists always act as if they are above the law does put them into harm's way sometimes. If they don't want to be doored, then I suggest slowing down or even stopping when going near parked cars rather than speeding. Don't these bicycles have brakes? If you actually look at the causes rather than the effects, then you would know what really happened. It's an irony how you always want all drivers to follow every letter of the law, but will cry foul when you are told to do so. When will you cyclists ever practice what you preach when it comes to following the rules?
May 6, 2011, 5:28 pm
Miss Williamsburg from Williamsburg says:
Jasmine, I am Hasidic and live in Williamsburg.
I hear you and do not deny that such people exist amongst us.
But I still stand by what I am saying, that please do not lump all in one category because many of us do not fit into it.
I am sorry about your experience or that of your friends'. If you have any doubts I am totally willing to invite you and show you a different perspective.
Usually only the noisemakers (in this case those that you are describing above) get noticed, while the silent majority (in this case the normal, peaceful ones) do not get heard.
So again, I'm willing to invite you so I can be the voice of the majority of normal Hasidic people here.
May 6, 2011, 5:35 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal. I am not a bike zealot. I do not "always act as if they are above the law does put them into harm's way sometimes". I stop at lights and follow all the other laws that apply to riding a bike. Lots of us do. We are "ganging up on you" because YOU do not have any idea what you are talking about.
May 6, 2011, 6:37 pm
Brian Van from Kips Bay says:

Bicyclists "play their parts" how? By dutifully rolling under some minivan's wheel? By taking a public beating from a group of Hasids?

Yes, making a public complaint about being assaulted gives them an "above-the-law" attitude. How dare they. Their bicycles don't even have brakes! (Note: most bicycles have brakes. And if you're saying that Hasids are attacking cyclists because of equipment issues, then you must be delusional. I'm sure that's the last thing Hasids, or any people, care about.)

No one's ganging up on you, Tal. There is just a polite consensus here that your contributions to this thread are rambling offtopic nonsense. If you would like to discuss opinions backed up by facts that have a modicum of basis in reality, I'm sure your contributions will be warmly received. As a matter of fact, I STRONGLY encourage you, Mr. Motivated Forum Guy, to put a little more work into real-life communication and research and a little less time parroting the NY Post on message boards and comment threads.

Yours truly,
Paparazzi Bike Guy /

P.S. I don't live in South Williamsburg and I don't know what truly goes on around there. I assume it's normally quieter than this. But I praise Miss Williamsburg for her approach and I hope people are inspired by good leadership like that. Would you mind if I organized a "kosher ride" to the neighborhood sometime this spring to have a meet-&-greet?
May 6, 2011, 7:19 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Brian Van, I do know what those laws on parking are, but I don't double park. By playing their part, I am talking about following the traffic laws. Anything you can say about drivers who are flouting the laws, I can say the same for cyclists, and that includes doing things such as not obeying traffic lights and signs, riding against traffic on streets, refusing to dismount where told, and so many others. You can't tell others to follow the rules when you don't yourself. I never bought into that "Do as I say, not as I do" bit, because I see it as an excuse for double standards. I would rather some practice what they preach. As for dooring, most of them are not intentional unless there is proof that the driver opened the door as the cyclist came close. The same thing when hitting them when either going in or out of a parking space. Who in the right mind would ride their bikes fast near parked cars to begin with? That is probably the reason they get hit in the first place, and that is looking at the cause rather than the effect.
May 6, 2011, 7:47 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Thanks Tal. You just made the argument for Class 1 bike lanes.

"Who in the right mind would ride their bikes fast near parked cars to begin with?"

and Tal. Did you even read the article up on top. It is about bike riders being assaulted.

Here, .... I will quote if for you. "But the blowhard screamed at the cyclist, even kicking her bike in anger.
“The driver and another man grabbed my arm and masses of Hasidic people started to gather around,” said Sandoval. “I needed to flee. I was in a lot of danger.”

and Tal do you know what dooring is? It is when a driver opens their door when a cyclist comes close. Being doored is proof that "the driver opened the door as the cyclist came close."
May 6, 2011, 8:16 pm
Jasmine from Park Slope says:
Miss Williamsburg, if you do pay taxes and are allowed on the Internet than you are treated better than most Hasidic women I have read about or spoken to. The Satmar sect is really strict, is it not? You can go online and speak your mind and if that was the majority then that would be good.
May 6, 2011, 9:25 pm
MikesMom from prospectparkwest parkbench says:
Hahahahahahaha, silly temporary hipster wanna be Brooklynites!! Hasn't anyone ever told you you will not win a fight against Hasidm in Williamsburg or Borough Park? They are waaaaaaay more powerfull that your militant bike lobby! Give it up and learn how to ride a bike like the people that grew up here!! No helmets, and we don't need no stinking bike lanes!!
May 6, 2011, 10:43 pm
Peter from Brooklyn Heights says:

Re: Tal. he clearly has some kind of Asperger's.. except instead of being fascinated with trains, he's fascinated with with writing about bike lanes in Brooklyn.
May 7, 2011, 12:02 pm
Miss Williamsburg from Williamsburg says:
Brian Van, It would be my pleasure to be a part of your "meet and greet" plan.

Jasmine, I think you are basing your assumption on your experiences with the Hasidic community in Monroe, NY (KJ), am I correct?
It is quite different.
If you, or anybody is interested in learning more or have questions about our culture or way of life, I'll be glad to provide my email address.

(I can post it here too, but it would probably be very long and don't know if it's fair to fill up this board like that)
May 8, 2011, 1:55 am
Brian Van from Kips Bay says:
Miss Williamsburg, email me off-board and we'll set up the meet/greet.

Regarding the statements of he-who-will-no-longer-be-named in this thread, but mostly for the benefit of any readers who might be misled by the incorrect information shared above:

Some of the claims above are wholly untrue - they demonstrate instead that the writer is thoroughly misinformed about the laws to begin with.

For example, there's nothing in the law or on posted signage/street markings referring to "dismounting zones" and I dare you to find anything to support that. There is no such thing.

The claim that "you can't tell others to follow the rules when you don't yourself" is also based on faulty reasoning. I, along with many other cyclists, follow road rules and choose not to commit violations. There are some cyclists who commit violations, of course. The statement that all of us are responsible, as a group, for the behavior of disconnected individuals, is a ridiculous notion that contradicts common sense and law. There is also the claim that cyclists can't oblige drivers to follow road rules and safe driving as a result of their own lawlessness - well, it's THE STATE OF NEW YORK that obliges drivers to follow road rules, and you are on the side of the lawless & reckless if you do not acknowledge that obligation. The state DMV has its full driver's manual online if you wish to reference it.

Dooring, another concept misunderstood in the posts above, is a violation consisting of UNINTENDED injury to another person by the unlawful act of swinging a car door into oncoming traffic. (NYS VAT Title 7, Article 33, Section 1214) You can still hit someone even if they're riding slowly, if you throw a door open directly into their path when they're at the point of impact. (This is 90% of dooring; even fast cyclists can usually avoid a door that is opened ahead of them) Intentional door injury inflicted onto a cyclist, on the other hand, is not dooring - it's assault, a far more serious CRIMINAL OFFENSE. Stating that all of this comes back to the victim being at-fault is akin to someone dismissing a rape victim by saying, "Well, if she wasn't dressed like a whore to begin with..."

Hitting an oncoming cyclist while exiting a parking space is also a road violation (NYS VAT Title 7, Article 26, Section 1143), identical to hitting an approaching vehicle while exiting a parking space. Any time you enter a lane on the road of ANY kind, you must yield to existing or oncoming traffic - any type of road user, any speed, any time, no excuses. Frankly, if you don't understand this, you shouldn't have driving privileges.
May 8, 2011, 4:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, please don't try to profile all drivers like that just because of a few. How would you like it if I said that all cyclists were like that because of a few that were? My guess is that you wouldn't like it, so start practicing what you preach. For the record, I don't profile all cyclists that are like that, so quit saying that to all drivers. That's probably the reason why Streetsblog alawys has such enemies especially because they profile all drivers as being rule breakers when crying foul when it's being done to them. BTW, I do call out the person who did that, but I never hear you calling out cyclists that have no respect for the law and flee the scene of an accident when they hurt someone.
May 8, 2011, 6:04 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

What are you talking about. Who is profiling drivers. The article is about A DRIVER who assaulted a biker. This article; Did you even read it.

Why would I profile drivers? I drive my car enormously more than I ride my bike.
May 8, 2011, 6:46 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, your friends over at Streetsblog profile drivers such as myself all the time, and don't tell me they don't practice profiling, because I read what they talk about all the time. For the record, I have called out drivers that have flouted the law. Have you ever called out cyclists that flout the law? My guess is probably never. What was your reaction when Stuart Gruskind was killed by a messenger cyclist or even when a boy in Seattle had his mouth wired shut after a cyclist hit him and fleed the scene? I know that Streetsblog never covered that, because their whole goal is to show that bicycles are good and cars are evil. The reason I am against the infrastructure for bicycles isn't because I am anti-bicycle, it's because they are hardly used all year long, so they are seen as a waste of money hence a pet project.
May 9, 2011, 7:16 pm
Miss Williamsburg from Williamsburg says:
Hi Brian Van,

If you wish you can contact me at:
May 9, 2011, 11:02 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal. For the recored.

I spent most of Monday morning on my bike. I went from Park Slope to Bay ridge and back. I stopped at every light. I even cam to a full stop when two ladies were crossing the bike lane on PPW. (Ask you friends and NBBL, they have it on video.)

I even told my friend not to make a right on red, when there was not a car or a pedestrian to be seen. So your guess is wrong.

Tal, did you ever double park in a bike lane in NYC???

Of course you have not, you have never seen a bike lane NYC.
May 10, 2011, 6:29 am
Jim Tranadi from Canada says:
Just a perspective from Vancouver. Many of the reasons that those who get around on a bike appear to not obey the law is partly that there isn't the proper infrastructure so the only way to get around is to bend the law. It's been seen here and in many other cities that after proper commuter cycling infrastructure is put in, cyclists obey the law more. Simple reason is that they benefit from that as opposed to benefitting from not. Is the problem the people or the system?
I'm getting so tired of it being said that I have "entitlement" when all I wanna do is get to where I'm going and if I have to do some things to survive a badly designed area I do. I didn't like being forced to be an outlaw before and I'm so glad that now I don't have to be in this city.

So basically the best way to have cyclists behave more predictably and not be a problem is to support cycling infrastructure.
May 10, 2011, 1:33 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, I have seen bike lanes througout the city, but I have never parked on them. I don't even try to double park or even wait by a fire hydrant, because I know I am not supposed to. I do follow the rules when it comes to parking or even waiting. Honestly, I don't find them necessary especially when they are not used that much, and this was from people have looked at those lanes on a daily basis.
May 10, 2011, 8:39 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

How do you informants define "not used that much"?

and BTW you are allowed to wait by a fire hydrant as long is a driver is by the car. It's OK.
May 10, 2011, 9:26 pm
Jeff R from LI says:
Wow, I can't believe how many anti-Semites replied to this story!!
May 10, 2011, 9:48 pm
Rich from Bay Ridge says:
Jeff, it's not about "anti-Semites" when the hasidic men are the ones not wanting people (ladies especially) biking thru "their neighborhood" due to THEIR religions reasons! What are you even talking about??
Nov. 19, 2011, 8:34 pm
Rick from Bed-Stuy says:
She misused the word "misnomer". Disgraceful
Nov. 2, 2012, 10:09 pm
Jack S. from Bed-Stuy says:
The city is in bed with the Jews. They get what they want with a donation to the election fund. Who is the correct p.o.s politician who authorized this?
Nov. 13, 2012, 5:01 pm
Douglas from London says:
Its the same here with the God Squad - worst drivers on the road but considering they're both religious nutjobs, that's unsurprising.
March 7, 2013, 3:26 pm
Seeker of the Truth from Bay Ridge says:
Incident caught on camera
May 9, 2013, 10:53 pm
Mike from W'burg says:
Sharia law has come to the USA. Except it's not Muslims pushing it. It's Jews, and it's called Halacha, not Sharia. Either way, non-Jews are being threatened and forced to comply with Jewish laws (in this case, bike riding is considered immodest, so we can't do it). Time for the USA to close its doors to third-world religions like Islam and Judaism until they can learn to stop pushing their bronze-aged superstititions on us and trying to take away OUR freedoms to live OUR lives as the constitution allows us.
May 26, 2013, 9:35 pm

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