The biking activists responsible for repainting the Bedford Avenue bike lane have shared video of their actions with Gothamist. After the city controversially decided to remove the bike lane from a 14-block stretch of Bedford Avenue last week, the guerilla cyclists walked up and down the avenue with paint rollers and spray paint to recreate the cycling route.
This video shows them in action. An individual who took part in the repainting, but declined to give his name, described the event:
We got some paint and paint rollers and went out on foot. We just went up there and started painting the bike lane. This was on two different nights; Friday and Sunday. It was almost finished [on Sunday], but the Shomrim were called and showed up. They stopped two people and talked to one for a while. They went up and bear-hugged one of the people to try to stop them from getting away. The other person was like, "You're not police, you can't detain me," and just left. The first person they just stopped and talked to for a while. This person explained what the group was doing…Police were called, but they did not give anybody summonses or arrest anybody. Nobody was ticketed.
That goes against what we heard from sources in South Williamsburg's Hasidic community yesterday, who claimed that after the Shomrim Patrol — the neighborhood watch group — called police, arrests were made and summonses were issued. Police have not yet confirmed what happened.
StreetsBlog reports that some of the bike activists involved in the Bedford Avenue repainting were Hasidic Jews. Cycling advocate Baruch Herzfeld, who was not involved in repainting the lane but is familiar with some individuals who were, told Gothamist: "There was Hasidim that went to go help paint the bike lane also, it wasn't just hipsters." But a source involved in the repainting claims that the Hasidic cyclists who were supposed to help out on Sunday night bailed at the last moment: "Six people were taking part, two of them — the Hasidim that were supposed to come — didn't come."
Insiders say that Hasidic opponents and supporters of the bike lane break down along a familiar neighborhood rift between two rival Satmar factions lead by Rabbi Zalmen Teitelbaum and Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum — groups that have long tried to show their power by taking opposite sides on just about about every issue from political endorsements to development projects. "A guy 'rented by aronim' painted back d bike lane friday night on bedford av after they were angry that R Moshe Duvid Niderman took it down," wrote one Twitterer. But South Williamsburg community activist Leo Moskowitz said that rumors of Hasidic involvement are totally untrue: "How many people in the Jewish community are riding bikes? Hardly any. It doesn't make sense. The first one was repainted on Friday night — and Friday night is the Sabbath. That doesn't even make sense."
The controversy over the Bedford Avenue bike lane — which really seemed like a non-issue when all of that Kent Avenue craziness was going on — is far from over. The bike activists from Time's Up! told Gothamist that on Sunday afternoon they will host a "Ride & Vigil for the Bedford Bike Lane." They will meet at 2 pm at the Brooklyn entrance of the Williamsburg Bridge before riding in a funeral procession with dirge music down Bedford Avenue to grieve "the loss of our beloved bike lane ripped out from under us." Apparently, the bike clowns will participate in a "mock" reinstatement of the lane.