Bikers, Drivers Clash Over Bedford Avenue

Drivers in South Williamsburg are apparently harassing and in some cases physically (and vehicularly) assaulting bicyclists. Of course no one could have predicted that when the DOT removed the bike lanes on Bedford Avenue that it would lead to a sense of entitlement to the road on the part of local drivers.

As I said when the bike lanes were originally removed, a lot of the controversy over the lanes was about the very mundane issue of parking. Baruch Herzfeld backs up this notion:

Williamsburg bike maven Baruch Herzfeld, who hosted a debate between bikers and Hasidim last January, says the tension has resulted from the lack of parking spaces in South Williamsburg and not a conflict between Orthodox residents and yuppie cyclists.

“The Hasidim park in the [former] bike lane because there is no other place to park and the city has limited resources to enforce it,” said Herzfeld.

Of course local political leaders have a solution:

Hasidic leaders say that cyclists should find another route.

“You have a densely populated area that hundreds of people cross those streets every single day,” said former Council candidate Isaac Abraham. “You’ve got a ballroom, two schools and five synagogues. Traffic there is tremendous.”

It sounds to me as though these leaders need a refresher course in driver’s ed. It’s pretty simple really – riding a bicycle on a public street is legal, bike lane or not. Double parking is not legal. Kicking bicyclists, running them off the road with your minivan or school bus and otherwise intimidating or harassing fellow citizens is very illegal. Sounds to me as though the NYPD needs redirect some of its efforts to parking and traffic enforcement on Bedford Avenue.