Opposition to newly painted bike lanes on Kent Avenue is so strong in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community that one Orthodox leader vows that the faithful will block traffic if the city does not remove the cycling routes.
In South Williamsburg’s Satmar section, the wheels were already spinning against the bike lanes — which eliminated curbside parking and standing when they were painted last month — and now City Council candidate Isaac Abraham kicked the conflict into a higher gear when he said this week that private buses would obstruct Kent Avenue to pressure the city to remove the lanes and reinstate alternate-side parking.
“We will ask all the drivers: ‘When you pick-up or drop-off our children, put your bus in an angle, block the entire street, wait ’til the parent gets to the door of the bus, [and] slowly — very slowly — take your child off or put it on the bus, [and] don’t rush to get back on the sidewalk,’” said Abraham, who added that the protests would occur every morning from 8 to 10 am and each afternoon from 4 to 7 pm and would be accompanied by rallies.
“One day the traffic will be backed up all the way to Long Island City to [the] Department of Transportation Headquarters, traffic will come to a halt,” he said.
Abraham revealed to The Brooklyn Paper his calls for a traffic slowdown just before a contentious Nov. 24 neighborhood meeting that addressed the controversial Kent Avenue bike lanes, which are placeholders for the proposed Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway — a divided cycling and walking path planned to stretch from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.
Members of the Hasidic community said that blocking traffic is their only effective way to protest the no-stopping, no-standing signage that they have fought since the city installed the signs on a Saturday last month and immediately issued tickets, even though observant Jews aren’t allowed to move their vehicles on the Sabbath.
Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Coordinator Joshua Benson — who fielded questions and insults at the transportation meeting — said that the bike lane was necessary to create a “network” of bicycle paths around the borough, and suggested that in time, Williamsburg residents might come to embrace the cycling lanes.
“Change is hard, and when we change the way the streets work, there is always an adjustment period,” he said.