It’s not Lincoln vs. Douglas, but bike lane activists and opponents will participate in the 2010 version of the great debate at Pete’s Candy Store on Monday night.
Organizers of the forum, which follows the city’s unannounced removal of the Bedford Avenue bike lane in November, have invited both sides to offer their spin, but if opponents don’t show up, biking activist Baruch Herzfeld has said he’ll act as a stand-in for the naysayers.
“I don’t want to fan the flames of discord, rather I want to talk about the cultural differences involved,” said coordinator and biker James Hook. “But we also want to do it in a fun way that’s engaging.”
And there are plenty of flames to quell here: the city removed the bike lane, reportedly to appease the Hasidic community, which has opposed such cycle paths. Then, two rogue activists were arrested for repainting the bike lane in the dead of night. Then, activist Heather Loop tried and failed to host a topless bike ride down the avenue to spite the local Hasidic community.
The tempers are still hot over the whole thing.
Joining the debate will be Isaac Abraham, a Hasidic activist and former Council candidate who supports the city decision to remove the bike lane.
“[Bikers] claim the roads have to be shared, but I own a car, pay taxes on my gas, insurance and repairs, and that creates revenue for the city — yet bikes add zero revenue. Why?” Abraham told The Brooklyn Paper this week. “The bike lane literally cut off part of the community and put kids and their families in danger.”
He added that it’d be hard to sway him from his position, claiming that a biker hit his wife and knocked her unconscious on the same street.
But swaying isn’t necessarily Hook’s goal.
“Somebody has to bring these communities back together to talk,” he said. “That’s the reason you move to Brooklyn, because you enjoy the different cultures and communities. If you want to have a homogenous experience, move to Minnesota.”
Bike lane debate at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. between Richardson and Frost streets in Williamsburg, (718) 302-3770), Monday, Jan. 25, 7:30 pm.