The Time’s Up! organization was actually at the center of a December 2008 clash between clown-cloaked cyclists and angry Satmar residents, who objected to new city bike lanes that began routing scantily clad cyclists through their parking spaces and school bus paths. Even more recently – December 2009 – cyclists decided to repaint 14 blocks worth of bike lanes that the city had removed from Bedford Avenue, in response to Satmar complaints. Yet Herzfeld stresses that his bike shop has only brought residents closer together, and he sees no division between the two populations.
“I see them as one community,” he said. “The rabbis want to keep them separated because they want to preserve their traditions, and they’re worried that if people are exposed to a different tradition then they’re going to lose a tradition of the past.”
While Herzfeld is all for preserving traditions, he finds that many Satmar chasids do so at the expense of socialization and instead become “miserable.” But lately, Herzfeld and his staff members say that the Traif Bike Gesheft has seen increasing numbers of Satmar cyclists attending their biweekly classes in recent weeks. As additional incentive, Herzfeld offers free bike loans to the Satmar community members, and anyone else who might be interested.
"He’s surprisingly brought a lot of Satmars together and to meet with other Jews and non-Jews in a friendly environment. And the bikes are only part of his efforts,” said Yoel Weisshaus, a Satmar chasid who uses Herzfeld’s Traif Bike Gesheft regularly but also empathizes with community parking concerns. Weisshaus, who recommends the shop to friends, thinks that bike usage will increase gradually, as more and more people learn about Herzfeld’s venture.