Williamsburg's $26,000 Bike Lane to Nowhere

Naked bike ride planned for Saturday is latest salvo in hipster vs. Hasidim hullabaloo

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    YouTube.com
    Vigilantes took to the streets to repaint the sandblasted lanes last week.

    The on-again off-again bike lane in Williamsburg cost $11,000 to install and $15,000 to tear up. That's $26,000 of taxpayer money that isn't making bicyclists any safer.

    The wasted money is probably doing very little to protect the sensibilities of those who object to the sight of scantily-clad cyclists -- as aggrieved riders plan a protest for Saturday that involves more skin that the usual December bike ride.

    Cyclist Heather Loop and at least 50 other bikers plan to take to the former lane in their undies on Saturday and throw off their shirts in opposition to reports of religious leaders' political power play to have the bike lane removed, according to The Brooklyn Paper.

    "If you can't handle scantily clad women … live in a place where you can have your own sanctuary, like upstate," Loop, 27, told the paper.

    The bike lane was initially constructed in 2007, but it's been the subject of intense controversy in Williamsburg, a community cohabited by hipsters and Hasidim. Religious law forbids Hasidic members from seeing scantily clad women. And these scantily clad, Spandex-wearing women have been using the bike lane for over a year now.

    In November, the bike lane was sandblasted away in what a source close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg says was, "an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month's election," according to The New York Post.

    Frustrated that they'd be forced to use the bike lane on Kent instead of Bedford Avenue, vigilantes took it upon themselves to repaint the Bedford bike lane last week. Some even got arrested.

    "A small portion of this lane is being removed as part of ongoing bike network adjustments in the area, which have included the recent addition of a barrier-protected connector lane on nearby Williamsburg Street and the completion of a unique, two-way protected lane on parallel Kent Avenue," Department of Transportation spokesman Seth Solomonow told NBCNewYork.com. "We will continue to work with any community on ways we can make changes to our streets without compromising safety." 

    The Hasidim in the community maintained the bike lane was removed for safety purposes, but most riders think that's not true.

    "It was a political deal," cyclist Geoff Zink told the Brooklyn Paper. "The street is for everybody. [They] say the removal of the lane was for safety, but how does that make any sense? It's a bike lane."

    While most protesters don't actually believe their efforts will make the city restore the lane, they believe it's important to stand up – and they're calling all cyclists to do the same.

    "Get on your bike and ride – show the community that we do use and need all bike lanes," event organizer Barbara Ross told the Brooklyn Paper.