There is an interesting controversy in Brooklyn after the city yielded to the Hasidic community in sandblasting off bike lanes on roads. Hasidic leaders complained that they are having trouble obeying their religious law forbidding them from staring at members of the opposite sex with women biking around in shorts. Bicycle advocates have been trying to repaint the lanes.
The Hasidic community has long viewed this enclave as their special area, even though other families and artists have moved in recently. That has caused trouble with the Shomrim Patrol, a Hasidic neighborhood watch group. The Shomrim recently apprehended two cycling advocates who were repainting the lane and called the police. No charges were filed but the bikers were prevented from repainting the lane.
I find it incredible that the city would yield to such demands by a religious group to erase bike lanes. A Department of Transportation spokesman said: “We will continue to work with any community on ways we can make changes to our streets without compromising safety.” However, this is a religious-based objection to women who are not covered. Yet, reports indicate that Mayor Bloomberg wanted to appease the Hasidic community before his recently close election.
Hasidic leaders say that the cyclists endanger families and children. However, this is not the view of the city in creating these lanes and they are found in every major city. The real objection appears to be their lifestyle and the rigid religious beliefs of this sect. It is a clearly improper decision that uses city resources to enforce values of a single religious group.
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