Hasidic Cyclists Joined Up With Secular Riders in Bedford Ave Re-Striping

guerilla_lane.jpgPhoto: Gothamist.

The guerrilla re-striping of a portion of the Bedford Avenue bike lane at 4:00 a.m. this morning was the work of both secular Williamsburg residents and members of the Hasidic community, according to Baruch Herzfeld, a local bike-shop operator and cycling advocate with ties to both communities. 

Views of the bike lane within the Hasidic community are hardly monolithic, Herzfeld told Streetsblog. "Scores of people in the Hasidic community are actually pissed about
this bike lane being eradicated at the behest of traditionalists," he said. "These
members of the community may not want to ‘come out’ as bike warriors
just yet, but they’re promising continuous action until the bike lane
returns."

DOT removed 14 blocks of the bike lane last Tuesday, infuriating cyclists on both the north and south sides of the Williamsburg Bridge.

This morning’s display of unity between cyclists from inside and outside the Hasidic community drew officers from the
NYPD and members of a neighborhood security patrol. Several people were given summonses, but no one was arrested, according to Herzfeld, who operates a bike clubhouse at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge that is frequented by secular and Hasidic customers.

Herzfeld was not present at the re-striping, but says he received text
messages early this morning from those who received summonses. At one point during the confrontation between bike advocates and the
neighborhood watch, a female activist was pushed off her bike by a
member of the patrol,
he reports, adding that the neighborhood watch also held two bike lane advocates by force until the NYPD could arrive to issue summonses. Requests for confirmation from NYPD have not been returned. 

Herzfeld, who is an observant Orthodox Jew, but not Hasidic, says he’s heartened by the group’s move, and says the action is a sign of things to come.

"The combined efforts of bike advocates and progressive Hasids to reinstate one of the borough’s safest and greenest transportation arteries has huge implications for South Williamsburg," he said.

  • Great news! There’s always two sides to a story, and it’s good to hear of the friendly local people within this community.

    As for this –

    “At one point during the confrontation between bike advocates and the neighborhood watch, a female activist was pushed off her bike by a member of the patrol”

    I trust he (because it’s certainly a “he”) is being held / charged with assault and battery, as well?

  • David_K

    That’s great news that part of the Hasidic community wants to keep the bike lane. After all, the lane benefits the entire community by discouraging out-of-control traffic on Bedford. The benefits of less traffic congestion and more friendly streets should transcend the borders of religious communities.

    Let’s hope that we see Hasids riding bikes — if nothing else, bike riding sure beats the hassle of car ownership…

  • benbo

    Thanks to whoever did that! You guys rock (and possibly saved lives)!

  • Liam

    Google should probably get the credit for that photo, not gothamist. Though gothamist didn’t give credit either. Onward!

  • eLK

    Mazel tov!

  • We need to start doing this in Boston too. Another year of promises and again, the bike lanes were not painted.

  • There were plenty of Hasidic families pedaling around Governors Island this summer, with tow-a-bikes, trailers, and even those surreys that allow families to ride together.

  • baruch

    video of repainting the bike lane.

  • Great video!

  • baruch, looks like those folks need to take a lesson from the people in LA that painted a bike lane last month. They used an actual machine for painting on asphalt, used orange cones and wore orange vests, so even when a cop drove by, they didn’t stop because it looked official.

  • Just noticed the end of the video, terrible logic.

    “Dont take away our car lanes on broadway, we’ll just come back and repaint them”

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Kol ha kavod, Baruch. This work you’re doing really fits in with the spirit of Hannukah. You guys are the guerilla Maccabees and those anti-bike lane motorheads are the Greek Assyrians riding around on their elephant SUV’s. They’re doomed. Go get ’em.

    But next time, I agree with Jass: You guys need to go out in broad daylight wearing orange vests and wielding cones. In that outfit you’re allowed to do whatever you want. You can jackhammer up and entire street and then fill it back in with half the amount of asphalt necessary and leave a giant pothole. No one will give you a second glance.

  • Emily Litella

    We should all chip in to help pay their fines. Where’s the paypal donate button?

  • Corvus

    Emily Litella – Great idea!

    So has the DOT removed the repainted lines? Are they going to be repainted again?

  • clever-title

    If the judge has a sense of humor, he’ll sentence the people involved to community service – repainting the bike lanes using standard DOT materials.

  • Creative, non-violent reaction to questionable actions by a city agency. That’s what I’ve been missing about NY! Glad it’s back!

    And thrilled for the collaboration.

  • TAC

    Where is Matisyahu in all of this?

  • Sam

    You do this in a Muslim neighborhood. You would even protest together with them to get the lanes removed you’re terrified that they will start bombing more skyscrapers. Hasidim on the other hand don’t do that so you feel free to protest naked in their enclave. Hypocrites.

  • Mike

    Sam, your theory is bonkers. Name one time bike activists have protested with Muslims to remove bike lanes. It hasn’t happened, and never would.

  • Victor Manfredi

    The vindictive painting out of bike lanes was not invented in Brooklyn. When Berlusconi’s ally the rightwinger Salvatore Cuffaro took over the adminstration of Sicily in the summer of 2001, the bike lanes of Palermo were promptly obliterated, as a rebuke to the progressive ex-mayor and antimafia leader Leoluca Orlando, who had just contested the Sicilian presidency against Cuffaro. Now Cuffaro has been convicted of pro-mafia activity during his term in office, but that’s old news to Palermo’s cyclists, who can easily ‘read’ the act of bike lane eradication as a mafia vendetta. Fortunately after several years the mafia’s black paint started to wear off and Orlando’s white lane markings are showing through again.

  • Seth

    Why can’t you naked freaks stay out of our neighborhoods. I’m sure the antisemite Nazi judge will agree with you and try to put us all in the ghetto

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