Re-cyclers! Activists repaint Bedford Avenue bike lane

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Call it a bikelash!

A group of enraged cyclists fought back against the city for removing the Bedford Avenue bike lane last week, repainting the lane under cover of darkness last Friday night.

The two-wheeled crusaders went out late with rollers, paint, homemade stencils — and, of course, a video crew — to document their act of uncivil disobediance.

“We are NY city bicyclists and our message is clear,” the dissidents announced at the end of their video. “Don’t take away our bike lanes.”

But early on Monday morning, when they returned to finish up, a patrol unit from South Williamsburg Shomrim Jewish police force, intervened and called cops.

After an investigation, the NYPD arrested two of the painters, but a source told The Brooklyn Paper that four more Williamsburg bikers and two Hasidim were also part of the re-laning effort.

The controversy began on Dec. 1 when the city sandblasted the painted bike lane along a 14-block stretch between Flushing and Division avenues, citing nearby bike paths along Kent and Wythe avenues as more than sufficient.

But that explanation did not quell persistent rumors in the biking and blogging communities that the lane was removed at the behest of Hasidic leaders, who claim that the lane hinders buses dropping off and picking up children at the numerous religious schools on the route, and populates the neighborhood with scantily clad females.

Hasidic officials refused to talk about the issue this week, but one insider said that political pressure was exerted on the city to remove the lane.

“It was a power play by Hasidic leaders who need to scare community members into behaving,” said Baruch Herzfeld, the Orthodox Jewish owner of the Traif Bike Geschaft shop on S. Sixth Street. Herzfeld, together with environmental advocacy group Time’s Up!, is organizing a rally in support of the lane on Sunday, to be led by a brigade of bicycle clowns.

The Department of Transportation didn’t exactly deny the allegation that the Hasidic community demanded the bike lane’s removal, merely referring The Brooklyn Paper back to its original statement that called the lane’s removal a “network readjustme­nt.”

The agency said it will fight back against the repainting this week.

“Any paint remaining after [Wednesday’s] rainfall will be removed,” said Scott Gastel, an agency spokesperson.

The bike advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives condemned the removal of the lane, but recommended that, like Rosa Parks or Gandhi, bikers should employ passive resistance.

“Cyclists need not risk arrest to ensure their right to ride on Bedford Avenue. It is theirs,” said Wiley Norvell, communications director for the group.

Time’s Up! Bicycle Funeral Procession and Vigil for the Bedford Bike Lane will be at 2 pm on Dec. 13. Meet at the Brooklyn entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge.

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

henri_cervantes from manhattan says:
Riding a bike on a street without a bike lane is not against the law. A bike has the right to take the ENTIRE LANE, regardless of whether it is a bike lane or a car lane. Read the law. Hasids have effectively put the bike riders back into the car lane. Whether that's safer for everyone is an open question - but it will sure slow down car traffic. Bike riders will use bike lanes if they exist, but to get where one needs to go, will use "any means necessary."
Dec. 9, 2009, 10:05 am
ms nomer from greenpoint says:
I'm worried that the Hasidic community -- all car drivers, actually -- will see this as a victory and a validation for drivers. By removing the bike lane, DOT just totally reinforced the mistaken idea that now bikes won't belong on Bedford. I'm bracing myself for that first bloody confrontation/crash which will be a consequence of DOT's bending over backwards.
Dec. 9, 2009, 11:15 am
starshine from LES says:
This brings to mind suppression and human rights issues. It sounds like Hasidic females are programmed by others similar to the Taliban.
Going by looks, some of those Hasidic of all ages and sexes would benefit greatly from a little exercise beyond opening and closing a van door.
Dec. 9, 2009, 1:34 pm
joey from clinton hills says:
I'm glad to know that a sexist, racist cult has so much sway with our City government.
Dec. 9, 2009, 2:33 pm
Rachel M from Williamsburg says:
I would describe myself as a Chassidic feminist, here is what should be done. The self desribed leader, or could someone find out from which yeshiva Rabbi Neiderman graduated to become a rabbi, is actually the Al Sharpton of williamsburg. Rabbi Neiderman does not represent me,or anyone in williamsburg that I know. Rabbi Neideman represents himself only, So lets ride the bikes, lets not allow these extremist to dictate us
Dec. 9, 2009, 2:53 pm
Guillermo from been there says:
Yes, we have our full car lane back, just ride in the middle of the lane, wear bright colors and stay under the speed limit. Riding in the middle of the car lane affords you more reaction time and room against running kids, jaywalkers, and car door openings.
Dec. 9, 2009, 6:12 pm
Chasid here from Williamsburg says:
"Arms, hands, bars, knees
Spinning blur, fast trees
Heart bangs, tires sing
Wind roars, gears ching
Climbing grade, sweat drips
Heavy legs, a couple sips
Breathing deeper, suck the air
Crest a hill, pedals tear
Feel no pain, feel no burn
Still time to go another turn
Mind is clear, thighs are tight
Rolling speed, wheeled flight
Rabbi Neiderman do not represent me,
I am not your cup of tea.
Dec. 9, 2009, 6:16 pm
Mike from FG says:
You people are a bunch of racist morons. Im not a hasid and I can't stand the stupid bike lanes or the stupid bikers that terrorize our street. These morons do not pay attention to anyone else on the road. I'm going to find out from the hasids how they managed to get rid of the stupid bike lanes.
Dec. 9, 2009, 9:05 pm
me me me from 11211 says:
Transportation Alternatives I can't believe you myopic misguide vociferous fools CAN keep your big traps shut over this one. ha ha ha. A new tact? good idea. Just why is that though ?
To you racist, self righteous bottom feeders, please expire.
Dec. 10, 2009, 12:36 am
Hopper from Los Sures says:
Why do you need a "bike lane?"
Just ride your bike like everybody else.
I suggest protest against ENDLESS WAR
Dec. 10, 2009, 1:07 pm
Someone from Somewhere says:
Oh dear - the statement that they should be like Rosa Parks - how idiotic - they ARE doing just that. It's amazing that people can rise in any office and be dumb enough to not get that this is precisely what they are doing. Today is one of my disappointment with humanity days. Sigh.
Dec. 10, 2009, 8:16 pm

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