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Top-LESS Bedford Bike Lane Protest Draws Media, Clothed Cyclists

The Gothamist: Top-LESS Bedford Bike Lane Protest Draws Media, Clothed Cyclists

"I want to see some boobs," shouted a lone NYPD officer (seen here) who pulled up to our photographer at Bedford Avenue in South Williamsburg, ironically blocking the former bike lane in the process. "I’ve been trying to find out online when this is happening and nobody had the start time! Did I miss it?" Minutes later, a group of 15-20 fully clothed cyclists pedaled by, trailed by almost twice as many photographers, TV news crews, and assorted media. The "topless" protest over the controversially removed bike lane was not the NC-17 provocation the media and others had hoped for. At one point, two men in a parked car near Division Street shouted at the cyclists, "We’ve been waiting for two hours! Where’s the skin?"

Last weekend’s rainy protest, organized by Times Up, attracted a heavy police presence, but only a couple NYPD vehicles trailed the bicyclists tonight. But it wasn’t just the snow and cold weather that kept the protesters clothed. One of the ride’s organizers, Heather Loop, had previously taken a confrontational stance toward the South Williamsburg Hasidic community, telling the Brooklyn Paper, "If you can’t handle scantily clad women … live in a place where you can have your own sanctuary, like upstate." But tonight Loop and others backpedaled their provocation. "We’re not trying to start a war, we’re trying to save a bike lane," Loop told us.

"I’m tired of seeing ghost bikes," said protester Lyla Durden. "It can get really hectic and dangerous without bike lanes." And before the ride, Calisha Jenkins, standing in the snow with fake rubber breasts hanging outside her coat, told us, "I’m really clumsy, and without a bike lane I’m a sitting duck." The protest, officially organized by Candy Rain, began with a dedication to bicyclists who’ve been killed and injured in traffic accidents. Then it was off into the snow, with photographers, news trucks, and the NYPD on hand to catch any provocation. Ultimately, the neighborhood’s Hasidic residents barely seemed to notice.