Brooklyn cycling activists angry about the Bedford Avenue bike lane removal are in Copenhagen and waiting to confront Mayor Bloomberg when he arrives on Monday for the international climate change conference. Baruch Herzfeld, an Orthodox Jew who runs a South Williamsburg bike clubhouse, has emerged as the unofficial spokesperson for cyclists. During a phone conversation a few minutes ago, Herzfeld told us:
How can Mayor Bloomberg go to Copenhagen and pose as a green mayor after this? He's a hypocrite, and I believe his office directed the DOT to remove this bike lane as a political favor for the rabbis, who want to keep South Williamsburg a ghetto enclave. There was no discussion with the community, like with the Kent Ave bike lane. And this bike lane was just a visual reminder for drivers to keep their eyes open for cyclists. But the rabbis don't want a visual reminder that there are other people in the neighborhood besides the Hasidim.
One woman asked me if she should go topless [during an upcoming protest] and I told her no, because we're not trying to create more confrontation with the Hasids, who actually hate the rabbis much, much, much more than I do. The Hasids in the community are not the problem; they give me the thumbs up when I bike by, and even Hasidic women have told me they really approve what I'm doing. They hate the rabbis for trying to control their lives, intimidate them and scare them.
The two self-described "self-hating Jewish hipsters" who repainted the Bedford Avenue bike lane in South Williamsburg in the dead of night Sunday (after the DOT sandblasted it away) have been charged with criminal mischief. (They're pleading not guilty.) Herzfeld tells us Bill Di Paolo, the director of progressive protest group Time's Up, is already in Copenhagen, but he was sworn to secrecy about what exactly the activists are planning. (Herzfeld also says Di Paulo will not be personally involved in any protest against the mayor.)
Here in New York, Time's Up will hold a "Ride & Vigil for the Bedford Bike Lane" on Sunday afternoon. Those clowns who've previously "liberated" other blocked bike lanes with their zany antics are expected to conduct a "mock" reinstatement of the lane. And today the Daily News published an angry editorial denouncing the Bedford bike lane removal.