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.