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The Williamsburg Bike Lane Flap: Beyond “Hipster vs. Hasid”

2:27 PM EDT on September 23, 2008

hasid_pic.jpgWhen the New York Post ran a story last week about the opposition of Williamsburg's Hasidic community to bike lanes that pass through their neighborhood, the main beef was supposedly about the "immodest" dress of female cyclists. But just like similar uproars in years past, the underlying objections may have less to do with bare shoulders than with the mere presence of bikes in the street.

Here's Simon Weiser, a familiar source in these stories, as quoted in the Jerusalem Post:

"The issue with modesty, it's a problem, but we live in New York, you know what I mean?" said Simon Weiser, a community board member who represents the Hasidim.

"My concern is that there are three bike lanesright next to each other and so many children, so many schools, in avery small area. Everyone understands and knows a bike lane is anuisance."

While the Jerusalem Post's headline writers stuck with the irresistible "hipsters versus Hasids" angle, commenter Zvi suggests that the bike lanes are entirely consistent with the teachings of the Talmud, which says that "whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world."

Photo: Brian Branch Price/New York Post

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