A bunch of clowns

A bunch of clowns
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

The fight over a pair of controversial Williamsburg bike lanes has gotten so wacky that cycling activists sent in the clowns — literally.

About 10 biking advocates dressed in zany circus garb pedaled down Kent Avenue on Dec. 17 to show support for the hotly contested cycling lanes amid an increasingly volatile fight between bike lane boosters and opponents who want the city to eliminate the paths.

“Humor is a great way to deal with conflict,” said event organizer Ben Shepard, a volunteer with the cycling activist group Time Out.

The jesters rode down Kent Avenue and staged fake accidents behind cars and trucks that impeded the bike lanes, then adorned the vehicles with fake tickets.

The lanes were painted by the city earlier this year as precursors to the long-planned Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which will eventually create two buffered bike paths from Sunset Park to Greenpoint.

But opponents of the lanes, including leaders of the neighborhood’s influential community of Satmar Hasidic Jews, say that the bike lanes aren’t worth the parking spaces they erased — and went so far as to threaten to obstruct traffic if the city does not remove them.

Biking activist Madeline Nelson of Flatbush dressed up like a clown to show support for a pair of controversial bike lanes on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg on Wednesday.
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

The comical demonstration came on the heels of last week’s news that local politicians including Councilman David Yassky (D–Williamsburg) — a backer of bike-friendly initiatives — called on the Department of Transportation to remove a lane from one side of Kent Avenue.

Though they fear they are losing support from politicians, the bikers’ hijinx got some laughs — but not for the reason they anticipated.

“I understand it was supposed to be a joke, but having only ten people join the bike tour — that’s really the funny part,” said Williamsburg resident Leo Moskowitz, who opposes the lanes.

“If there are so many people who are supporting the bike lanes, where are they?” he asked. “They want to kill the street and kill the parking for who? Ten clowns.”

The bikers acted like clowns whenever they encountered a vehicle obstructing the controversial bike lane, staging fake accidents, climbing on trucks, and adorning the vehicles with caution tape.
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig