Not on our pavements - Charedi group opposes bike plan


A group which tries to protect the morals of strictly Orthodox Jews has identified a new spiritual threat - bicycle lanes.

The Va'ad Lema'an Toihar Hamachaneh - "committee for the purity of the camp" - has not spelt out why a cycle route running through Hackney, the north London borough with the capital's largest Charedi population, would be "a danger to the spirituality and character of our neighbourhood".

But one Jewish source in the area said rabbis who were keen to uphold standards of modesty were worried about female cyclists "who might not be so thorougly dressed in summer".

According to one Orthodox councillor, however, the potential danger was more physical than spiritual.

Conservative Harvey Odze said the proposed route would "go past schools and other places where there was a lot of traffic and children. It would cause more hazards".

Suggesting that the same reasoning also lay behind the purity committee's intervention, he said: "I think they just used the wrong phrase."

Liberal Democrat Orthodox councillor Ian Sharer - who has not opposed the route - believed the main complaint was that it would "take away parking places".

Four years ago a cycle lane through a Charedi neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York, was removed after residents objected to women in shorts.

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