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New Bedford bike protest will keep cops abreast

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Cops vastly outnumbered cyclists at Sunday’s “funeral procession” for the Bedford Avenue bike lane — but on Saturday, another crew of two-wheeling activists will be back, this time with some baring their breasts.

Cyclist Heather Loop said that she and at least 50 other bikers will ride in their underwear through the Hasidic portion of Williamsburg to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s removal of the lane — and she won’t be the only one doffing her top in response to reports that the neighborhood’s religious leaders pushed for the removal.

“If you can’t handle scantily clad women … live in a place where you can have your own sanctuary, like upstate,” said the 27-year-old Loop.

With public nudity laws on her side, Loop said she’d encourage other underwear-clad bikers to do the full Monty in a “freedom ride” from The Wreck Room near the corner of Bedford and Flushing avenues up to Division Street, the stretch that had a bike lane until earlier this month.

Such excitement will be a big change from Sunday’s rain-dampened protest.

All manner of NYPD vehicles rolled into place right on time at 2 pm, with officers outnumbering protesters by 15 to five on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge — the meeting place for the ride and rally.

The few cyclists who showed up scoffed at the NYPD’s show of force — as detectives took photos from unmarked vehicles and traffic cops sat at the ready in full riot gear.

Procession organizer Monica Hunker dodged the question of whether the group would try to repaint the lane again. “You can’t really paint in the rain,” she said. “I think we’re all prepared to get arrested.” (There were none on the day, however.)

The suggestion of guerilla tactics was about as far as it got, unless you count a small impromptu dance party at Wallabout Street and Bedford Avenue, the end of their memorial route, and a few soggy protesters holding signs reading, “We love bike lanes.”

But the message was clear: bike lanes are safe and environmentally friendly, and their removal doesn’t remove riders. Most protesters had one theory or another on the nature of the loss.

“It was a political deal,” said rider Geoff Zink. “The street is for everybody. The [Hasidic community] say the removal of the lane was for safety, but how does that make any sense? It’s a bike lane.”

Even within the insular Hasidic community of South Williamsburg there are deep divisions. Some Hasidic leaders claim that Spandex-clad cyclists slow down buses dropping off children at nearby religious schools, yet other Hasidim were said to have been involved in the repainting.

Few protesters believe that the city will restore the lane, so for now, they’re calling for a show of force.

“Get on your bike and ride — show the community that we do use and need all bike lanes,” said event organizer Barbara Ross.

Updated 4:38 pm, December 16, 2009
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Reasonable discourse

Bill from Clinton Hill says:
I presume most of the women parttaking in the protest will be "bearing their breasts," as you put it. But most likely fewer will be baring their breasts.
Dec. 16, 2009, 9:31 am
LEROY from BED STUY says:
I'm going to be there just to see them frozen little pale titties in this frigid weather.
Dec. 16, 2009, 9:44 am
WANNA SEE HEATHER from LIC says:
I'd like to see Ms Loop topless. On FACEBOOK she has a photo with a bag over hear head. On Saturday she'll show us if the bag is necessary protection for our eyes. I assume she's some ugly broad.
Dec. 16, 2009, 9:53 am
Heather's friend from anon. Brooklyn says:
Heather is great, don't hate on her. No, she is not a super model, and she probably could loose a few pounds off her butt, still you shouldn't judge her.
Big butts sit better on bike saddles.
Be naked, and let us bike. Heather I miss you, call me!
Meryy Christmas, and a bikey new ear.
And to the guy from LIC, you are totally gross, and I can't believe you.
Dec. 16, 2009, 10:40 am
Benjamin Shepard from Boerum Hill says:
Dear Brooklyn Paper,

The Times Up funeral ride was organized to bring attention to the ongoing support of the bike lanes.
Contrary to the reportage from the paper, we were perfectly happy with the turnout. It was a freezing
rainy day. So even a few riders showing up to brave the winds and rain is a huge success. And papers across the city wrote about the action. That was the point.

On a day when we tragically lost a bike rider to a street without a bike lane, our message was bike lanes are part of the solutions to create safe environmentally friendly streets.

We know, in terms of statistics, that no biker ever killed an automobile driver, but automobile drivers kill cars all the time. Even the DOH acknowledges that.
According to the DOH NYC Report on Cycling Injuries and Fatalities

• 92% of bike fatalities involved motor vehicles

• Only one fatal crash occurred in a bike lane
It is still illegal for cars to hit us. It is still the responsibility of Drivers to exercise due care. The streets are for the people. For all riders, one or two wheeled vehicles as well as three or four or none.

WHen I look at Bedford ave I see a space which once was a bike lane and should still be one.

Lets chalk it up and keep on peddling.

Best Benjamin Shepard
Dec. 16, 2009, 11:13 am
Yehuda from crown heights says:
I guess the Rabbis will have to drive to catholic high schools now to pleasure themselves.
Dec. 16, 2009, 11:23 am
Ryan from Williamsburg says:
Shimon is right! We need to protect our kids from ever knowing what the human body looks like! Ban all mirrors!
Dec. 16, 2009, 12:42 pm
L E from 11211 says:
Ron:
Your a filthy Ron!!
Get the hack out o here
Dec. 16, 2009, 1:05 pm
eliot from brooklyn heights says:
From one bike activist to another:Heather or anyone else organizing this, if you're reading this, please call this off! There are much more effective ways to rally for the Bedford bike lane. This plan may make you feel important but it will only serve to exacerbate the situation and win over a lot of people to your opponents' side. Joining Times Up or T.A. or any other bike advocacy is a much better way to effect change.
Dec. 16, 2009, 2:11 pm
joey from Clinton Hills says:
I'm going to ride my bike naked with my penis wrapped in cellophane.
Dec. 16, 2009, 3 pm
Cyclist from Brooklyn says:
It doesn't seem like riding naked through a Hasidic community on the Sabbath will help win back the bike lane.
Dec. 16, 2009, 3:11 pm
Aaron from Bed-Stuy says:
I am a cyclist and an activist and a jew and I am entirely offended by this protest.

What sort of movement for justice intentionally antagonizes and harasses a community on a basis of their belief system?

Besides, the Hassidic community didn't remove the bicycle lane, Mayor Bloomberg and the DOT did. Please stop being idiots and call this off!
Dec. 16, 2009, 3:13 pm
Cindy from Williamsburg says:
Heather Is this worth getting into a big fuss over? We bikers don't want war with others, we love and want peace and friendly relation with the chassids in williamsburg. I am biking down Kent ave and its even better and more bike friendly
Dec. 16, 2009, 6:04 pm
Ilan from Williamsburg says:
All are holy, the ways humans were created. Also, more cops than protesters, as usual, wasting our tax money, overtime etc etc etc...
Dec. 16, 2009, 6:40 pm
Anon from Williamsburg says:
My fellow Hasidim, I have said this for years, let's work to get our children off of the old diesel buses run by that unscrupulous man that every school pays! The diesel fumes from those old buses are hurting them!
Dec. 16, 2009, 6:42 pm
anonymous from brooklyn says:
Ms. Loop says, “If you can’t handle scantily clad women … live in a place where you can have your own sanctuary, like upstate."

So now she is saying that Hasids, who have been in Williamsburg since the 1940s, should leave? What about showing a little sensitivity to their culture? If she were to visit another country, would she not try to be a little sensitive to their customs? Then why is this okay?

I'm not saying that the newcomers in Williamsburg should wear long-sleeve shirts in the summer out of respect for the culture that has been there for decades. But riding through the streets naked on their holy day is a totally different story! And then saying they should leave! She is so ignorant!

Besides, this issue with the scantily clad cyclists is not their main opposition to the bike lane. I think it had been mentioned by an actual Hasid in maybe one article, and that mention was recycled again and again until it became the main issue, rather than the school buses. If they were so concerned about the scantily clad women, wouldn't they have tried to get the Kent Avenue bike lane removed?

Like them or not, the existence of the Hasids is part of what makes New York an interesting place. Try showing a little respect when disagreeing with them on civic matters.
Dec. 16, 2009, 10:12 pm
Leo from Miami beach says:
Here's the real deal: The chasidem have serious political clout and the select few folks that want the bike lane extended will get a lesson in politics: It aint what you know, but who you know!
Dec. 16, 2009, 11:34 pm
Joe from Bensonhurst says:
Would they do that in a Muslim neighborhood? These liberals are so afraid of another skyscraper being bombed they would even side with them to protest the lanes. But since Hasidim don't do that, they feel free to blatantly disrespect their religion in their own enclave. Hypocrites.
Dec. 17, 2009, 7:48 am
Mike from Ft Greene says:
Joe, that makes no sense. Bike advocates don't care what religion a group is that removed bike lanes. We are for safety.
Dec. 17, 2009, 9:47 am
Hasid_tit_lurker from Amishburg says:
Bring it on ladies, we're men too. Too bad it's gonna be pretty chilly this weekend.
Dec. 17, 2009, 12:03 pm
mike from dombo says:
i will be in my red hummer for anyone who wants to get hot.
Dec. 17, 2009, 12:24 pm
Kinda confused from East Williamsburg says:
wow,wow at first it started out about bikes, are we now talking about the same thing? or were talking about asses here kinda/sorta? Is it the joys of working your ass on your own bike? Or showing my large ass to the public? heather help me understand whats going on here?
Dec. 17, 2009, 12:37 pm
Barbara from Clinton Hill says:
Where is the reasonable conversation here? With the MTA cuts and increases in fares, bike lanes are a very good thing for everyone. While one wants to be respectful of other communities we are talking about public streets not a private walled community, thank G. Ms. Loop is expressing her civic outrage - perhaps the other bike communities can help her and if necessary tone it down a bit so as not to enrage the Hasidim, but remind them that this is America, not Israel and these are public streets, not owned by any sect or group AND that many NY'ers WANT bike lanes and need them, especially now, with all due respect.
Dec. 17, 2009, 12:40 pm
Moe from W says:
What is wrong with you people? The polar bear and iceberg clubs meet on the other side of Brooklyn. Take your bikinis and ride over to Coney Island.

Or are you trying to start North Bklyn branches of the clubs?
Dec. 17, 2009, 6:44 pm
Moe from W says:
"With public nudity laws on her side, Loop said she’d encourage other underwear-clad bikers to do the full Monty"

Huh? Have the laws been taken off the books? Last I recall, the full monty was still prohibited. And she herself is only threatening toplessness, not the full monty anyway.
Dec. 17, 2009, 6:48 pm
Solo500 from LES says:
1. I am a commited city biker but find this protest to be inconsiderate of the Hasidic community.
2. Baby, it's cold outside. Not only are the hipsters inconsiderate-they're impractical.
Dec. 18, 2009, 9:28 am
Bill from E. Williamsburg says:
Wreck Room isn't on the corner of Bedford and Flushing.
Dec. 18, 2009, 12:05 pm
Bomberpete from Stuy Town says:
Topless is legal - full monty is not. They're stupid. Do you know what ntagonizing the community accomplishes? Zilch. They'll get pneumonia, plus I think the cops are going to arrest them anyway.
Dec. 18, 2009, 3:59 pm
Grace from Flatbush says:
Heather:

Completely irresponsible to suggest that an entire community (which has been resident in the area for generations) relocate to accomodate recent move-ins to their community. Jobs, homes, family, lives that have been lived there for generations? And is upstate New York now populated entirely by people who dress as though it were 1910?

As a cyclist, I am disturbed by the lack of consideration implicit in your ill-thought-out impractical suggestion. Clearly, you are thinking only of yourself and others like you, not your community at large. If you want your bike lane back, why not take constructive action through proper chanels and get it back, the same way your neighbors had it removed?
Dec. 29, 2009, 4:21 pm

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