Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New York pisses on two of my favorite things

I couldn't resist responding to this article in the New York Post [note: some of the comments are less than civil]. Apparently NYC has removed bicycle lanes from a Hasidic neighborhood because "[s]cantily clad hipster cyclists attracted to the Brooklyn neighborhood made it difficult, the Hasids said, to obey religious laws forbidding them from staring at members of the opposite sex in various states of undress. These riders also were disobeying the traffic laws, they complained." [Photo credit: New York Post]

Pardon me. I was under the impression that there was some sort of prohibition against enacting laws or using public resources for the express purpose of helping specific religious sects. Wait . . . there is. The First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . ." WTF?

To make it worse, the city decided to shit on bicyclists' rights as well. It's dangerous enough to ride in the streets as it is. Bicycle lanes are a necessary response to enable bicycles to share the roads that they, as taxpayers, are fully entitled to use. It's galling that the city would pander to a religious group that apparently can't look the other way when a girl in shorts rides by on a bike. (Also - it's December in New York. Are there really that many girls riding by in shorts?) It's simply enraging that it would remove important safety equipment WHILE catering to "an establishment of religion."

Apparently there are some "hipsters," according to the Post, who took it upon themselves to fix the damage that the city wrought. This YouTube video [again with the comments - sheesh] shows the operation. Now, as a soon-to-be-lawyer, I can't condone taking the law into one's hands. But as a citizen and a cyclist, this is just beautiful. Unfortunately, the painters have been arrested. We'll see what happens next.

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