Mon, Dec 21, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Big Apple’s bikers switch as snow stops nude demo

AP , NEW YORK

Bicyclists who planned to go topless to protest the removal of a Brooklyn bike lane switched gears on Saturday, pinning plastic breasts to their jackets as they rolled into a snowstorm.

Dozens of bikers joined a protest called the “Freedom Ride” to oppose the removal of a bike path in Williamsburg, an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.

But a fierce snowstorm kept them from pedaling topless as planned.

The cyclists blame New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the loss of the lane because Williamsburg’s Hasidic Jewish residents “can’t handle scantily clad women” on wheels, said bike messenger Heather Loop, who organized the action.

The bikers’ tactics did not amuse some faithful Hasids leaving synagogue services with their families on the Sabbath. They rushed home.

Bloomberg had removed the bike path because members of the Satmar branch of Judaism “don’t want to see women in shorts,” said Baruch Herzfeld, who runs a bike-sharing program in a community where Jewish women wear hefty skirts and long-sleeved blouses and men wear heavy coats and hats, even in summer.

But Leo Moskowitz, a Williamsburg resident with five children, insists the main issue is safety.

Still, the riders made their point, obeying traffic signals as police watched.

Sam Paul uses her bicycle to deliver food and alcohol in Brooklyn for a service company called Snap. The 23-year-old native New Yorker said it was snowy and cold, “but we’re used to riding in this kind of weather.”

Despite the hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes the city has created in recent years, “we need more,” Paul said.

Bedford Avenue “is congested — that’s why a bike lane is necessary,” she said.

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