Bedford Avenue Bike Lane Battle Reignited; Hasidic Drivers Attacking Cyclists

05/04/2011 12:14 PM |

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Prospect Park West has been the most active front in the Brooklyn bike wars for months but look out, here comes Bedford Avenue again! In late 2009 the Department of Transportation painted over a fourteen-block stretch of a bike lane along in South Williamsburg, and without a line in the asphalt, Hasidic motorists are harassing, threatening and fighting cyclists in the street.

The Brooklyn Paper reports a series of recent incidents involving altercations between bikers and Orthodox Jewish motorists and pedestrians on the stretch of bike lane-less Bedford Avenue between Flushing and Division avenues, which remains the most direct route for northbound cyclists—who can ride along Bedford safely in a separated bike lane all the way from Sheepshead Bay with relatively few risks, mind you. But once they reach Flushing (there’s still some resentment that the block after Park Avenue still has the bike lane), all bets are off. A Bed-Stuy resident had an especially harrowing encounter en route to work last month:

A bus driver even trapped cyclist Christine Sandoval against a parked car near Flushing Avenue as she was commuting to work on April 15. But the blowhard screamed at the cyclist, even kicking her bike in anger.

The justification for the endangering cyclists? That stretch of street is just too busy to safely make room for cyclists.

Hasidic leaders say that cyclists should find another route. “You have a densely populated area that hundreds of people cross those streets every single day,” said former Council candidate Isaac Abraham. “You’ve got a ballroom, two schools and five synagogues. Traffic there is tremendous.”

It’s my understanding that tremendous traffic is among the best reasons for installing a bike lane on a street, not only to create a safe space for bike riders, but also to calm traffic, reduce speeding and prevent deaths. The city’s best bike lanes are on streets that thousands of people cross every day, and to actively attempt to injure and possibly kill cyclists is only going to make Bedford Avenue more dangerous for all the drivers, riders and pedestrians who have the right to use it.

(Photo: NYPL)

5 Comment

  • Problem is that bikers more often than not don’t yield to pedestrians and in a neighborhood that includes many children crossing or boarding their school-buses the situation becomes extremely hazardous for everyone around, for the bikers too. A slight detour for a biker that adds 2 minutes of travel time to his route is a small price in consideration of everyone’s safety.

  • used to live on bedford and myrtle and used a laneless bedford to travel north to the wburg bridge almost every day. hasid women would use their baby carriages as human shields to cross against traffic, thrusting them out in front of oncoming cars and cyclists with the right of way. there’s definitely a turf war happening here.

  • Cyclists have every right to ride on any street in New York City, and that’s the end of it. If you get assaulted, on a bike or anywhere else, defend yourself and if necessary seek help from the authorities. People are such sissies.

  • @i feel you but – Lawyers would call this “assuming facts not in evidence.” I would amend that to factoids. It helps to stick to what the article is, you know, actually about. Criminal assault is a bit more serious than petty nitpicking.

  • I’D POUND THE CRAP OUT OF SOME RABBI WHO FAILED TO YIELD TO ME ON A BICYCLE. IF THEY WOULD GET OFF THEIR FAT LARD ASSES AND OUT OF THEIR CARS AND ONTO BICYCLES THEMSELVES THE TRAFFIC PROBLEM WOULD’NT BE SO BAD.