Bike Lanes and Political Influence: My Thoughts

***update12/15/ 09

ChelseaJeanine For some reason, I’m totally on the Jews’ side of this Hasid vs. Hipster bike lane situation. I mean…they were there first.

 I’ve always avoided both the bike lanes on Bedford and the arguing that goes with. But now the time has come to speak my mind.

This is in regard of bicyclists advocating for use of bike lanes on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. Satmar Hassidim had used their political influence to have them removed, because it conflicted with modesty and safety interests. Hipster renegades repainted, and two Hipsters came under arrest for such actions. 


So here’s my story.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg got rid of the lanes to appease to the large voting community of Hassidic Jews living in Williamsburg. The Hassidim have so much influence because of their initiatives to clean up the streets, established a community, and kept it safe. The cops let them do their own thing to keep their own people in line. But sometimes, what is Hassidic law is not NYC law. Sometimes that just means that the Hassidim get to burn their bread in the streets before Passover, the same way it is practiced in Israel, but I’m sure that involves a stack of permits. For the most part, American law is based off of Jewish law. Democracy, the law of judges, court systems, why do you think there are so many Jewish lawyers anyways?

JTownCrier Todays news reminds all that the wealthy Satmar/Hungarian hassidim came from a totally different planet to begin with (no one knows where) 

Yeah they have some funny customs, but I have seen Hassidim on bikes! Women too! Not as common though. So where do I stand?

Being a biker myself I understand the need to get around, conveniently, cheaply, and safely. But I don’t bike through South Williamsburg out of respect for other’s freedom to live their lifestyle of choosing. Maybe I’ll change my practice if I see more Hassidic lady bicyclists! 

The Satmar Hassidim criticize bicyclists for being unsafe, but they are the ones who drive unyeilding. 

What I do respect is a community who sets standards for themselves and sticks to them. An immodest Hipster is pretty raunchy for someone who sits and learns in yeshiva all day. The same hipster doesn’t look the same to me, but I dont have the same sensitivity to appearance as other religious Jews have.

gmpdx @brooklyn11211 oh man…the Hasid are calling them “self hating Jewish hipsters”. We don’t have that local color our here…envious.

The definition of “self-hating Jewish hipsters” intrigues me though. Its probably not so much that Hassidim have a problem with hipsters, it could be more of a problem, deep down, that they want non-affiliated or un-religious Jews to return. Hrm… probably not. But it was a good idea, right?

This is America and the Hassidic community needs to be respective of the other residents. A solution for the Hassidim, consider Bedford Avenue as a main throughfare, “reshus harabim,” common ground. It is public property after all. Satmar Williamsburg has spread so far already, so its not like Bedford, which is in the heart of the neighborhood, is as enclosed as it once was. 

Another thing, give more credit to yourselves. I know in Satmarland they teach that people in general have very little self control, and thats why there are so many fences around the Halacha (Jewish Law). But how about considering the fact that many (like my commentators below) need a lane to stay safe and be able to get to work and make a living. At least when there is a painted lane you know where to expect other traffic coming by. According to law bicyclists have to abide by the same traffic laws so why not just be extra strict about bicyclists being safe around stop lights, school buses, etc? Instead of completely disregaurding the problem (like I was doing before) why not figure out a way to apease your neighbors. 

Satmar Hassidim have a problem with regaurding everyone who is not Jewish, or non-religious as being an indecent person. Don’t judge the many by the few.

So what do you think?