Thursday, July 19, 2007
Well, At Least More People Are Riding...Right?
When confronted with something like the above (sent to me by Stevil Knievel of Howtoavoidthebummerlife, who seems to know exactly how to push my buttons), we often can't help feeling angry and offended. And of course maybe it's not a trendy track bike that does it for you. Maybe it's an ultralight road bike straight from the pages of Bicycling buckling under an overweight guy in a full CSC kit, or a freeride bike with more travel than JFK airport on Thanksgiving being piloted on pavement by a guy in full body armor. Whatever. You can't help it. You get angry.
But, if you're a better person than me, you check yourself. Instead of criticizing them, you take a breath and say, "Well, at least more people are riding these days."
Really though? I mean, intellectually I know that's a good thing, but there's also that part of me that screams, "No, it isn't!" It's the same part of me that says it's OK to have another drink, or to pull off and let the guy behind me close the gap instead. And deep down most of us can't help occasionally feeling like cycling is ours, and that people need to fit our criteria and pass our tests before they can be cyclists too.
Of course as humans we have a conscience and most of the time manage to keep our baser instincts subdued. Nonetheless, here are some things (courtesy of youtube) that won't let me completely accept the fact that it's a good thing that more people are riding, no matter how hard I try:
Intoxicated Bike Polo
Apart from the fact that no horses are suffering, I see nothing to feel good about here.
It's bad enough that bike companies keep trying to trick us into upgrading with overpriced and underperforming technology. We don't need guys like this entering the fray with their ridiculous contraptions. Despite the focus group of Scottish schoolboys, I don't see a future for this particular design.
Euro-style Coddling and Handholding
Yes, I know America is evil and Europe is a wonderful place full of free medical care, polyglot people, and progressive thinking where nothing ever goes wrong. And I know I should like something like this--after all, it would allow more people in hillier regions to ride bicycles. But I'm not sure we should ever have this here because I'm not sure America can handle it. Just wait until the day you see somebody on a Colnago or a track bike with a 49/15 gear using one of these things. Or someone on a Costco bike eating a bag of McDonald's on the way up. You won't think it's so cute then.
This well-intentioned PSA from the NHTSA has some helpful tips for the novice cyclist. But there are also some things it fails to address. Like the minivan straddling two lanes carrying a family of 17, all speaking on cellphones. Or the car service that has no qualms about running me down if it will save a few seconds getting to his next fare. Or the dreaded Hummer from Jersey. The kind and gentle environment this film depicts does not reflect what many of us encounter every day. Sometimes laws need to be broken and the cyclist needs to be on the offensive. I fear if new cyclists venture out into the world armed with only the knowledge from this film that they'll be picked off one-by-one, like newborn sea turtles getting snatched off the beach by birds.
My friend (yes, I do have one) recently told me about the TV show "Double Rush" from 1995. I think they only aired the pilot. You may already have seen this. If you haven't, here's the pitch: "Taxi" meets "Cheers," set in a New York City messenger company office. Complete with laugh track and typical sitcom banter, this is funny for all the wrong reasons. And while the opening sequence and the casting is impressive, a very real danger of more cyclists out there is that somebody might be tempted to try something like this again.