Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Bike Battle Takes a Turn for the Civil

Brooklyn Hasids, cyclists debate controversial lane

Print Email

Last we reported, the feud between Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim and the borough’s bicycle enthusiasts had rounded the bend into full-scale performance art: cycling activists, protesting the Department of Transportation’s removal of a bike lane that ran through the Satmar ’hood, scheduled a nude ride along the route where the lane had been, on Shabbos no less. There was a blizzard that day: score one for the Satmars.

Last night, though, the warring clans tried to work things out more peaceably, with a debate held at Pete’s Candy Store, a hip Williamsburg music venue. According to a reporter for the blog Free Williamsburg, lead counsel for the Hasids was Isaac Abraham, who ran for city council last fall (he lost, but it was notable that a member of Brooklyn’s large ultra-Orthodox community ran for public office at all). Abraham reportedly lay low on the much-mocked argument that the bikers terrorize the Satmars by showing too much skin; the real problem, he wisely maintained, was that cyclists pose a safety hazard to pedestrians. Cycling advocates retorted that having a dedicated bike lane makes everyone safer. And more or less everyone, Free Williamsburg claimed, blamed the Department of Transportation for failing to listen to their constituents. (The bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives later disputed that its representative at the debate had derided the DOT.)

So where does this leave the good people of Williamsburg? Perhaps not far from where they started: the attending blogger “left feeling that, though civil, the debate didn’t really get anyone anywhere, other than a few shared laughs and a feeling that neither side is budging more than mere inches.”

On the other hand, a Village Voice writer today declared the entire conflict ridiculous, on the grounds that at least a visible skeleton of the supposedly-removed bike lane is still there on the street. “The last couple of weekends,” he writes, “I pedaled happily on this bike lane with just as much safety as ever, with the Hasids walking along on the sidewalk to my left and some weekend traffic passing by me on my right.”

So at least someone’s happy.

Bicyclists & Hasidic representatives debate the Williamsburg Bike Lane [Free Williamsburg]
Cycling Hipsters are Full of Shit: Bedford Bike Lane Is Still There [Village Voice]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Bike Battle Takes a Turn for the Civil

Brooklyn Hasids, cyclists debate controversial lane

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.