Gap in Bike Share Program to Exclude Orthodox Jewish Enclave
On the map showing the dozens of bike-share stations that will soon freckle northwestern Brooklyn, there is just one neighborhood-size void in the network: the ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave of South Williamsburg.
It won’t be the first time religious residents in the area, many of whom are members of the Satmar Hasidic movement, have won exemption from citywide bicycle infrastructure.
This time, according to interviews with residents, community leaders and city officials, deference to local sensitivities came without the shouting matches, pedaling protests and arrests that marked a 2009 battle over a bike lane bisecting the neighborhood.
Publicly, at least, South Williamsburg became a bike-share-free zone with hardly a peep from religious leaders.
For planners at the city’s Department of Transportation, the Hasidic hole on the bike-share map indicates the successful solicitation of public feedback.
“I think it’s really important that the stations meet the needs of the communities,” the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, said in an interview. “We’re not really looking to put them where there isn’t a lot of demand.”
Yet an absence of bike-share stations also underscores the lingering tensions separating secular cyclists and their religious neighbors in this corner of Brooklyn.
“The women come through on bikes, and they’re not dressed properly,” said Joel Weiser, a Hasidic musician who lives in the area, echoing complaints heard during the backlash that forced the removal of a painted bike lane on Bedford Avenue. “They’re more naked than clothed.”