New York City - Williamsburg Biker Brawl Goes Local, And Global
New York City - The city’s decision to strip away 14 blocks of bike lanes in Brooklyn is turning into an international crisis.
When Mayor Bloomberg arrives at the climate-change meetings in Copenhagen Monday he’ll be confronted by a group of activists from the borough, demanding to know how an environmentalist can take an anti-cycling stance.
“How can he fly all the way there to talk about being a green mayor when at home he is yanking bike lanes off the streets?” said Baruch Herzfeld, an unofficial spokesman for the groups of riders who repainted sections of Bedford Avenue bike lanes in protest at the removal.
“Mayor Bloomberg is a hypocrite, and we will actively try to find and confront him in Copenhagen about this issue,” Herzfeld said.
The Brooklyn contingent was already in the Danish capital for the summit when the bike- lane brouhaha began.
The lanes were removed following outrage from Williamsburg’s Hasidic community, which complained the cyclists were endangering residents’ lives and souls.
The riders were not only reckless, but their various states of undress were an undue hardship on their faith, which dictates they not stare at members of the opposite sex, residents said.
After a group of cyclists repainted several sections of bike lanes early Monday morning, and posted their exploits on YouTube, police arrested two of the alleged perpetrators.
Quinn Hechtropf, 26, and Katherine Piccochi, 24, were issued desk appearance tickets on charges of criminal mischief, but it’s unclear how prosecutors will proceed with the case.
The pair will plead not guilty, lawyer Gideon Oliver said.
Cyclists say they have nothing against the Hasidic community, in fact, Hechtopf recently donated a tandem bicycle to a blind Hasidic man so he could exercise, Herzfeld said.
This Sunday, the bike group Time’s Up plans to stage a “funeral procession,” to perform the last rites for the lanes, which ran from Flushing Avenue and Division Street.
At 2 p.m., cyclists dressed as clowns will lead the “New Orleans-style procession” and will hold a “vigil with a mock ceremony to resurrect a section of the missing bike lane,” spokesman Benjamin Shepard said.
But just because the group is holding a funeral for the lanes does not mean they are resigned to life without them, Shepard said.
“We are still hopeful for a resurrection,” he said.
If that doesn’t work, Herzfeld says, some cyclists have begun “building stockpiles of white paint.”
As for the repainted bike lanes, Department of Transportation officials said crews will remove whatever yesterday’s rain did not.
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