hasidic jewish community in new york city has bicycle lanes removed because they don't want scantily clad cyclists riding bikes through their neighborhoodBack in January, a bike lane brouhaha broke out between cyclists and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.   At that time, the Hasids simply blocked bicycle lanes with the school buses and put up illegal detour signs.

This time, they’ve managed to get the city to sandblast the bike lanes on Bedford Avenue into oblivion.  Why?  Seems their religious laws prohibit them viewing members of the opposite sex in various states of undress, and you know how we cyclists like to wear tight clothes (whether it’s hipster skinny jeans or spandex) and *gasp* shorts and tanks/t-shirts in the summer!

Coincidentally *laugh* the bike lane removal came just before elections, apparently an effort to appease the community.

Shortly after the DOT removed the lanes, cyclists rolled in and started repainting them, and in our opinion they should.  While I’m all for religion, it shouldn’t be allowed to alter the landscape or govern political action simply because its members can’t avert their gaze from a public street.  And the NYPD should be enforcing the parking laws, which would prevent the opposers from routinely and completely blocking the bike lanes by parking diagonally across them.

The Bedford Ave. bike lanes and streets provide a direct route to the Williamsburg Bridge, and the 14 blocks of now-missing bike lanes between Flushing and Division avenues are something cyclists want back.

So, like the antics carried out over the Kent lanes late last year, local cyclists are performing a mock funeral procession this Sunday, December 13.  The event is put together by Times Up! and starts at 2pm at the Brooklyn side entrance of the Williamsburg Bridge.  And oh yes, there will be clowns.

Catch some video of the covert guerilla repainting of the bike lanes after the break…

The Hasids have been quoted as saying the bike lanes also pose a safety threat to neighborhood children as they cross streets and exit school buses.  Maybe, but here’s a thought:  Teach the kids to look both ways before crossing the street (Heck, my son knew that by age 3!), and let them ride a bike to school.  Problem solved.

Presumably, you’ll also enjoy some of the thoughts about this presented on FreeThinker.


  1. Your second paragraph is misleading and really, sort of irresponsible. I read the NY time article you linked to, and the NY post article (dubious journalistic record, BTW) and only once was the issue of religious values and women’s clothing mentioned and summarily refuted by the person speaking on behalf of the local community. Yet you still chose to push that issue as the one of importance. Why? I am not Hasidic, but I am Jewish, and I took offense at your characterization of the issues at hand as simply about crackpot Jews and their crazy antiquated laws. I don’t agree with the way Hasids live their lives, but denigrate them I will not.

    The greater issues are ones that have nothing to do with their religious values- but more to do with the typical ones that get in the way of bike lanes and bike infrastructure- cars. They removed over a hundred parking spaces for these lanes, they made it illegal/unsafe for parents and school buses to drop off their children at school. In short the planners did not take into consideration the needs of the community at large. That is also irresponsible. Do I need to link to all the youtube videos of fixedgear hipsters riding recklessly in NYC to make the point that it is more complex than ‘teaching kids to look both ways’ when crossing the street?

    I’m pro bike & pro bike infrastructure- and I liked the repainting of bike lanes stunt when I saw it in youtube yesterday…so don’t get me wrong. But your decision to focus on the NY Post version I think is lame.

    • JC, I appreciate your reply and the thought that went into it.

      Leaving religion out of it, the real issue seems to be that the neighborhood residents and business/building owners took the law into their own hands by blocking lanes and creating false (illegal) road signage that affected all modes of wheeled transportation. Sure, they eventually got the DOT to remove some of the lanes, but in the NY Times article, the DOT had already made concessions to accommodate their concerns about parking and drop-off/pick-up zones:

      Agency officials said that the lanes would remain, but that some No Stopping signs would be replaced with No Standing signs to allow cars to drop off and pick up passengers. The agency also expects to soon create more than 70 parking spaces in the neighborhood, and it has already approved a pickup and drop-off zone in front of the Zafir Jewish Center and a loading zone in front of a local business.

      I suppose the bit about women’s clothing was included for “color”, and I apologize if it unfairly characterizes that group. Ultimately, the issue comes down to whether one small group should be able to dictate the future progress of a major city. At some point, a city decides what’s in the best interest and does what it needs to (ie. imminent domain, etc.). Our urban loop (path) and beltway (road) here in Greensboro have sparked all sorts of livid comments from those whose property is affected, but ultimately our city will be a better place for having both.

      My goal is to illustrate such conflicts so cyclists and advocates there and elsewhere can learn from the process. Sometimes my cycling bias flavors the tone.

  2. “The Hasids have been quoted as saying the bike lanes also pose a safety threat to neighborhood children as they cross streets and exit school buses.”

    I guess the cars don’t pose a threat?

  3. I am kind of wondering why on Sunday, But none of the people (The Hasid’s) will be in attendance on Sunday, if you want an impact to be felt, wouldn’t you do better by holding said protest on Saturday.

  4. JC–The Post has a dubious journalistic record but The Times, now there is a fountain of truth for you. They didn’t even report the Obama administrations problem with their Green Czar, Van Jones, until he had quit, which they explained by claiming they were short handed over Labor Day. The story was 2 weeks old by that time. Long time to be shorthanded.

    Same thing with Climatequiddick. They’ll report as little as they can get away with if it is a bad story for the left.

  5. Editor, thanks for the thoughtful reply…

    to Just a Thought: Observant Jews are compelled to not do anything other than religious activities on Saturday, until sun down…’Shabbat’ or sabbath. Sunday is the free day.

    to rsb- point taken. though I would challenge that the Post is little more than a Weekly type paper that whips ups opinion like the ‘fair and balanced’ television network. How many Pulitzers does the NY Post have?

    But Im guessing we fall on opposite sides of the political spectrum- that would be my guess. so we can disagree- that’s cool.

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