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Published on Dec 7, 2009
New York City bicyclists repaint 14 blocks of bike lane on Bedford Avenue.
The Take Back Our Bike Lanes Campaign is a coalition of bike commuting citizens unaffiliated with any established organization who came together to challenge the sudden removal last week of the bike lane on Bedford Avenue between Flushing and Division in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
We want to clarify misrepresentations in the press that the conflict about the Bedford Avenue bike lane is between the Hasidic and hipster communities in Brooklyn. It is not. The real conflict is between the citizens of the City more broadly and certain corrupt government officials.
The Bedford Avenue bike lane has provided safety for bike commuters en route to the Williamsburg Bridge. Although New York law gives bicyclists the right to ride on City streets regardless of whether there is a bike lane, the DOTs unannounced removal of this bike lane has endangered those who use Bedford Avenue as the main artery between their own neighborhoods and the Williamsburg Bridge. The affected neighborhoods include Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Flatbush - some of the poorest areas of the City.
The Citys removal of the bike lane resulted from a quid pro quo between certain religious leaders and the Bloomberg administration. Without consulting the community at large, Bloomberg sacrificed the safety of bike riders in the name of appeasing a special interest group. His back-door deal, made in the run-up to the mayoral election, sacrificed the safety of citizens who cannot afford the Mayors ear at the altar of political expediency and favoritism. That represents the worst kind of hypocrisy and cynicism.
We support the recent repainting of the Bedford Avenue bike lane and call on Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to decline to prosecute potential criminal charges arising from it. We demand that the city government consult the greater citizenry through approval of local community boards and the holding of public hearings in all affected communities whenever there is a proposal to remove a bike lane in the future. We also call upon all citizens to join environmental advocacy group Times Up! on Sunday for a New Orleans-style funeral group ride down Bedford Avenue starting at 2 pm at 99 South 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.