The Village Voice: Bedford Avenue Bike Lane Protest Modest; Lane Revival Not Looking Good, Either
By Roy Edroso in Cycling, Featured, In the Streets, ProtestMonday, Dec. 14 2009 @ 11:07AM
Last week’s bike lane tsimmis on Bedford Avenue had a sad denouement yesterday, reports the Brooklyn Paper: A small band of activists braved the rain to protest the scrubbing of the markers New Orleans-style, parading and playing “When the Bikes Go Marching In,” “Taps,” and other popular favorites.
Hopes of reviving the recently removed bike lane seem faint at present; even Transportation Alternatives, the indefatigable advocate of cyclists’ and pedestrians’ rights, isn’t sure what to try next…
There was some talk at Sunday’s protest of re-repainting the lanes, removal of which had spurred the now-famous guerrilla repainting, arrests, etc. But it was raining, so they couldn’t. “You can’t really paint in the rain,” organizer Monica Hunker told the BP. Nonetheless, “I think we’re all prepared to get arrested,” Hunker said, but despite the presence of over a dozen cops, no one was.
This all took place shortly after Solange Raulston was mowed down on her bike at the laneless intersection of Nassau and McGuinness, several blocks north.
Here’s a brief video of the protest. It got some got press, but will it get traction?
Not everyone is sympathetic to the cyclists. As we noted, the whole episode is widely seen as a hipster-related incident, which attracts disapprobation. There are even prominent anti-biker commentators out there, like NYU Professor Tunku Varadarajan who, while admitting of the local Hasidim, who complain of underdressed female bikers, that their “standards of primness can be rather exacting,” finds that “cyclists do pursue a form of zealotry of their own. They have quasi-religious garments (Day-Glo jackets), they follow austere codes of discipline (exercise and low fat),” and other offenses to Varadarajan’s sensibilities. Also, he asks, “Who in New York City, whether a pedestrian or a dismounter from a car, taxi, or bus, has not been imperiled by a cyclist?” And he refers to the Williamsburg lot as “’trustafarian’ poseurs,” etc. So: Not a fan, then.
Transportation Alternatives’ Wiley Norvell doesn’t want to comment on the protests, but says that while the issue is “thorny” — as are all bike lane issues in Williamsburg — his organization is pro-lane. “The decision to remove the lane is one we disagree with,” he says. “Given that Bedford Avenue will have a large or growing amount of cycle traffic, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep it.”
But TransAlt “hasn’t decided on the best course of action” to address the issue legally, Norvell says. In the meantime, he tells us, concerned riders may contact TransAlt to get in on the “commuter pools” they’re forming for morning rush hours, “so cyclists, instead of riding one at a time, can bike with two or three other people,” he says, “to ensure safety in numbers, and that you’re more visible.”
For now that will have to do.