Next month, New York City will join the likes of London and Washington D.C. when an ambitious bike-sharing program is launched, in order to improve transportation where mass transit lacks. However, South Williamsburg, an enclave for Hasidic Orthodox Jews, will not be part of the program.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the city’s transportation commissioner, Janeette Sadik-Khan said the goal of the bike-share initiative is to “meet the needs of the communities” where there’s a high demand for bicycles.
“We’re not really looking to put them where there isn’t a lot of demand,” she said.
At a meeting where residents in neighboring communities expressed interest in the bike program, Steve Levin, a local Council Member, said it was clear the Hasidic residents in South Williamsburg were not interested.
“Nobody showed up to that meeting advocating for a preponderance of bike-share stations on those blocks or in that part of the neighborhood,” Levin said. “If people really wanted to see bike-share stations in South Williamsburg, they would have come to those open meetings and said so.”
Not everyone is in favor of the gap which South Williamsburg will place into the city’s new system.
“In order to have this whole program work, it has to be laid out so there isn’t a hole—and there’s a clear hole,” Ryan Kuonen, a community board member told the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s kind of silly,” Kuonen continued. “They live in New York City. New York City is getting bike share. It should be where they live, too.”
The Hasidic community has cited safety and religious concerns in their quiet opposition to the program’s implementation in South Williamsburg.