Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Germ-Laden Projectiles

(The "Mud Jug" portable spittoon.)

Certainly the most dangerous and unpleasant part of cycling in New York City is dealing with motor vehicles. Their behavior can range from the tedious (such as the car creeping along a narrow street in search of parking a space like a congressman trolling for a hooker) to the deadly (like the yellow cab that cuts across four lanes of traffic in order to beat another to a fare). But it’s not just the vehicles themselves that are the problem. Sometimes the worst part is what comes out of them.

As you ride in the city, you’ll notice that cars and trucks in the city are constantly disgorging detritus into the environment. Cigarette butts and cellophane are probably the most common things you’ll encounter coming out of cars, but coffee cups, food wrappers, random trash from impromptu red-light car-cleanups, and entire bags of McDonalds are also quite common. Taxis and car services also like to stop, open their doors, and spill out their excess coffee to make more room for cream, which for cyclists combines the excitement of getting scalded and getting doored. But worst of all (in terms of the impact on your dignity as opposed to the environment) is the spit.

Living in New York is like living in a giant baseball dugout. Everybody spits, all the time. On sunny days the streets practically glisten with it like glassphalt. And naturally, people don’t stop doing it when they’re in their cars. At red lights doors and windows are constantly opening to allow for the egress of spit, and riding through stopped traffic is like running a loogie gauntlet.

There are few things as simultaneously infuriating and degrading as being spit on. It is a primal act of derision far worse than the most prolonged horn-blow or the most hateful invective. I’m sure I’m not the only cyclist to have been accidentally spit upon, or to have flown into a rage as a result. Perhaps the only saving grace is that when you do start screaming insults at the spitter, they accept the insults and apologize. A driver might make an illegal turn and almost kill you, and when you yell at him he will yell right back. But the spitter at least understands the universal awfulness of spitting on someone, and so he yields. As humans, it seems to be embedded in our DNA that spitting on people is worse than killing them.

I thought about all of this once again this morning as I was nearly slathered in lung-butter like a piece of toast at a greasy spoon. Fortunately I heard the sound of the window opening and that telltale guttural hocking sound and was able to adjust my speed accordingly. I did manage to evade the projectile, though unfortunately I rolled through it and was forced to observe the wet spot on my tire for a few rotations. And true to the spitter’s creed, when I loudly admonished him for having Oedipal tendencies, he simply held his tongue and took it.

101 comments:

Lee said...

Yeah #1 didn't read the article yet!

Prolly said...

Yellow cabs cutting across 4 lanes is still, to this day something I would have never imagined I'd see when I moved here.

Lee said...

Good points BSNYC, I especially find cigarette butts annoying, even though they're so tiny I know the filter portions will be there for ages in the street.

Anonymous said...

Why can't they "field dress" their cigarettes? It is soooo easy to do.

mojito said...

Be glad you're not in the South, Bikesnob. Down here it's baccy butter that gets squirted from open car windows. Yes, baccy butter, a liquid comet of muddy phlegm, a soupcon of brown catarrhal aioli, a stinking jism of cancerous juice from the Brioncholes of Mephistopholes, if you will. That stuff burns when it hits.

GGehrke said...

All I can say is "eewwwwwwwwwwwww"

leroy said...

Yuck.

This hasn't happened to me ... yet.

The only event on my ride this morning was a post office truck cutting me off so he could stop alongside an SUV, get out and shout obscenities at the SUV driver for blocking the street.

The only part of the federal employee's exegesis that I can recount here had something to do with an observation that the SUV's driver didn't own the road.

I must confess, if it was an explanation as to how federal vehicles have the right of way over state and civilian vehicles in a national emergency, I had trouble following it.

But I'm sure it made sense to the P.O'd P.O. driver at the time.

After all, he had a uniform so he must have had some sort of training to make up for his complete lack of irony.

Clayton said...

mojito, in the south you also get the occasional dip spit bottles. uncapped sun drop and mountain dew bottles half full with three days worth of dip spit. and NASA couldn't predict the trajectory of one if they wanted.

Anonymous said...

A few ounces of sports drink through the open window is a great reciprocation.

thefutureofamerica said...

Thank god I'm a midwest boy... mostly the worst of it is drivers who refuse to take their turns at 4-way stops and leave me hovering in a pissed-off trackstand.

Meep said...

Which is worse: spit, glass, or Barnes & Noble?

Art said...

Every day I find a new reason to love living in the northeast. Today's is the fact that I had never even considered the possibility of something like the Mud Jug existing.

Anonymous said...

Now, now, now. There's no reason to give up some of your hard earned liquid refreshment to teach some spitter a lesson. I find the snot-rocket to the windshield is an effective retort.

Cheers!

Matt in Seattle

Anonymous said...

I think if someone spit baccy butter on me I would break their fucking window with my frame pump and ride off against a red light...
Fuck, that's disgusting.

Heaumer001 said...

Yuck.
Thanks, though.
I'll keep that in mind next time someone shouts/honks in my direction.

Anonymous said...

i used to spit in peoples faces right before i clocked them in their jaw....it was kind of "my thing" lol....
but yeah, it's probably the most insulting thing someone could do....

Anonymous said...

That mud jug site is the one stop shop for any asshole in a pickup... something to collect their cancer dribbles and a pair of balls to replace the ones they're going to lose. All it's missing is an "UNDEFEATED" Union Jack license plate frame to confirm their assbackwards ignorance.

Anonymous said...

What? No condoms flying out of some John's car?

Prolly said...

Yeah, I've been spin on and at on numerous occasions. Mostly for "being in their way" and "not riding on the sidewalk"... People are idiots.

Anonymous said...

This happened while driving in Portland, Or.

Crossing the Burnside bridge waiting for the light at MLK. The guy next to me flicks his burning butt out the window onto the hood of my car.

I got out picked it up off my paint job and stubbed it out on his windshield.

Considering he watched the whole thing you'd think he'd roll down his window and offer up an apology before I did . No such luck.

Anonymous said...

attn dopers - you will need to read the article first before posting I'm #1

you are only cheating yourself just like putting that patch on you balls

no green jersey for you lee

Jim said...

I didn't realize how much we Noo Yawkas spit until I left NY. Holy cow, we're some phlegmy bastards. My wife thinks it's appalling, my riding buddies think it's amusing. My doctor thinks it's chronic bronchitis, asthma, and a terminally f***ed up attitude. Oh well.

That pickup truck site is kinda funny. I'd caution against blanket condemnations of rednecks. Plenty of rednecks are wankers, plenty aren't, and the worst drivers I see on the road are usually people with Jersey plates, anybody in a van talking on the phone, and pretty much any upscale, suave, over-educated, overdressed asshole in a Porsche Cayenne - the UnRedNeck. I think it's actually the fake rednecks, the urban cowboys that pose the biggest danger. I have no trouble riding in rural VA or boondocks W.VA, where real rednecks live, but Northern VA - with techies in quad cab pickup trucks with the bull balls mentioned above, riding back to their townhouse in Centerville - it's like they've got something to prove.

Anonymous said...

Whilst riding and when can sense the coming spit I will have my own spit at the ready to launch upon potential offenders.

Marrock said...

Your fame spreads.
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=357995

(please pardon my inability to properly post URLs)

Anonymous said...

The problem with Jersey drivers is that they don't know what to do on a highway without toll booths and bumper to bumper traffic.

It's the herd mentality.

Anonymous said...

Whats worse, the driver spitting next to you or the fellow cyclist spitting as you are passing? I must admint I've seen more spitting and snot-rockets coming from two-wheeled lance-wannabees than motorists here in San Fran. And yes, I am a spitter, but only when noone is around...

mcscholt said...

Oedipal tendencies... very clever line.

Sean Lynch said...

While riding on a New York Avenue.
A window unrolling I did chance to view.
The driver let loogie fly,
its arc tracking my thigh
Now, thanks to my u-lock he's black and blue.

Strayhorn said...

Haven't been spit at. Yet. But I did have a full bottle of Mountain Dew whiz past my head one afternoon. I wondered why they would waste a full bottle on me and then realized that yellow liquid probably wasn't Mountain Dew.

Oh, and I would like to note that today I saw my very first top tube pad - on a fixie conversion, no less. Chapel Hill likes to keep up with the trends.

t said...

Yawn. Not your best work.

nolucker said...

Loogies on my lugs-Yecchhh

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 2:14,

Absolutely. I have a lot to say on proper snot-rocket etiquette when riding in packs but decided it probably warranted its own post.

Marrock,

Glad to see the people over at bikeforums are arguing about me as passionately as they do about other important subjects like spindle-greasing and "Pista vs. Langster."

T,

Funny, that's what my teachers used to write on my papers. Sorry, I'll try harder for you next time. Your refund is in the mail.

--BSNYC

bikesgonewild said...

...well gosh...i didn't see any "you made me laugh so hard, coffee came out my nose", today...
...i expect(orate) it was more a case of "eeewww, yuck, how disgusting !!!"...
...but we cyclists have to be some of the more egregious offenders, regarding this topic...

Anonymous said...

t - you are a prick.

bsnyc's writes whatever he feels like and posts it. he is under no obligation to be uniformly hilarious, nor his he obligated to be hilarious at all. his only obligation is to be good enough that he's willing to post it.

once you have read what bsnyc writes, you should post a comment if and only if you have something interesting to say.

saying, "yawn, not your best work" is not interesting. it is, however, ironic -- you're snidely critiquing his effort, but making no effort yourself. you've proclaimed, "i have looked this gift horse in the mouth, and hereby declare that its dental work is not to my taste."

in the end, by making a lazy, insulting remark like this, you accomplish nothing but possibly pissing off a talented writer who publishes for free, five times per week. which is, in the grand scheme, not much of a contribution.

you are not a credible critic. you are just a lazy snot. and, as mentioned earlier, a prick.

Chazu said...

"I threw up in my mouth a little bit."

There. All is right in the universe.

AnnaZed said...

Hey, try life in the pro peloton. Spitting is nothing in those situations.

This guy:

http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/AltoVelo/message/12718

it seems is thrilled to have been peed on by Lance Armstrong.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Annazed,

All roadies dream of being urinated on by Lance. I'm sure during the TdeF years he was not so cavalier with his spray, though, lest somebody keep a sample bring it to a lab.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

BIKE SNOBS SUCK.!!!!!!!YOU HAVE NOT A CLUE,,,COME ON TO NYC,YOU WILL BE ON YOUR ASS THE FIRST BLOCK.!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

now thats a funny comment.!!!!

Anonymous said...

there u go.!!!!talk the shit.!!!but cannot walk the walk.!!!!! what losers...

Anonymous said...

haa,haaaa,,,let me guess your bikes have brakes.?....as in the post above...what pussy's

Anonymous said...

help me i have fallen and cannot get up!,what pussys ,i have never seen there bikes posted.they are that hip-o-fags type with the comie flags haning in there garages

Jim said...

It's true that most racers would kill to be pissed on by Lance Armstrong.

But Lance Armstrong would kill to be able to make Chazu throw up a little in his mouth.

Anonymous said...

And the spitters are all men. Don't forget that. Have you ever seen a woman spitter? I haven't. But women get spat on. Now is that fair? I ask you.

Oedipal tendencies. Hee hee. Very good.

bikesgonewild said...

...ok, just remember i didn't start this...speaking of oedipal tendencies & harsh realities...some guys get spit on by women but pay handsomely for the "privilege"...just sayin'...

Clayton said...

Anonymous 4:11 PM:

People who avoid Russian roulette, drunk driving, and heroine addictions are also pussies. Fucking pussies.

Anonymous said...

wow ,someone with some balls speaks his piece,i think they post pic's of the bike they really like,and wish to be free in the sreets on this kind of machine.

Anonymous said...

BSNYC YOU ARE GOING DOWN,BUT NOT IN THE BLAZE OF GLORY,THIS HAS TO BE THE BEST DAYOF COMMENTS FOR ALL THESE L-O-S-E-R-

clayton said...

did bikesnobchicago have a psychotic break?

Anonymous said...

how cool is this ride? pic of the day on this piece of shit site http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/2007/oct/4/AlexOyola.htm

Anonymous said...

starting TODAY everyone post a picture of your best FIXIE,thru out the week,lets so these dwibs reals rides

leroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leroy said...

Pssst Anonymous 4:05, 4:09, 4:11 & 4:20...

Thank you for posting that colorful invitation to New York City.

But as to the "walk the walk" part of your invitation, I would have to decline.

I prefer to ride.

Shucks, I ride in NYC just about every day.

And here's what I've learned: brakes and helmets are good things.

Golly, if you had been wearing a helmet several spills ago, I bet you wouldn't have so much difficulty with spelling, grammar and anger management issues.

Just a thought.

bikesgonewild said...

...leroy, i'm standing & clapping...

thehat said...

All "winner" Anons shouldnt you be cutting down risers, ebaying NJS, turning right, riding SLOW, adjusting top tube pads, putting fendors on track bikes, taking more pictures of your bike, and over all just making an ass of yourself/bike?

oh wait, you are making an ass of yourself!!

what do I know though, I'm just a "L-O-S-E-" who "have not a clue"


I'm going to go ride my bike now, not take pictures of it (even though its fixed)

Anonymous said...

"R"

Anonymous said...

put it togather LOSE-R.and that u are.ha,

BikeSnobNYC said...

Well, I guess this is what happens when a post is in no way critical of anybody's bicycle or riding style. That'll learn me.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

PSSST...LEERROY.....if u ride in NEW YORK with a helmet and BRAKES,WE LOOK AT U AS A PUSSY.....

Anonymous said...

DOH.!!!!!!!!!!!.....leroy we shall call you MR.PUSSY

Anonymous said...

damn can it get any better?

Anonymous said...

"bikesgoewild" were are you now!

mr.complaint said...

Uhm... What was the topic again?

quaffimodo said...

Well, there's one more hurtful stereotype that I'll have to put to rest. Some of you New Yorkers seem positively sanguine about being doused in motorists' bodily fluids. That would be a mandatory broken windshield here in laid-back Portland.

mr.complaint said...

Oh, I remember. Avoiding Spit Non-Nocturnal Emissions from Motorized Vehicles.

Front brake? Both? Or a skid? Straight through or side to side?
Smooth pavement? or Pave?

Gotta go. Cat just gave up a hairball.

Polygraf said...

Anyone ever have an ice cream cone with a full scoop fly out of a window and land perfectly balanced on your foot ?If it wasn't for the kids parents I would have torn that five yr old up.
I echo the dismay with riders who refuse to look behind them before letting loose, damn.

I find signs of the apocalypse in the increase of pointless debates about brakes and helmets.

The Great White Hype said...

Someone forgot to take their prozac...or whatever it is the cool kids take to calm their ADHD these days.

Humour is just lost on some motherf*ckers.

Anonymous said...

what?..WE HAVE A MR JIM MORRISON HERE TO TRYING TO MAKE POETRY,BUT HAS NOT A CLUE WHAT POETRY IS. TRY AGAIN, MR POLYGRAF

Anonymous said...

MR POLYGRAF , are u out there?

Anonymous said...

FIXED GEAR RULES.

Polygraf said...

Whats your beef 7:24, poet I'm not, nice little story about ice cream why are you flustered?

daddo.one said...

here is a huge indignity:

I'm primarily a roadie and my girlfrend primarily a runner. She's an athlete no doubt - marathons, the works - and like many athletes she spits.

More than once, she's spit into the wind on a ride i've taken her on only to have it land on me or my titanium.

sheesh! and don't even get me started about snots!

Anonymous said...

I bet she shallows,at least she did mine

Anonymous said...

whats you steak 7;39,are u a pro-fess-or?,YOU MAKE NO SENCE what so ever.

crjames said...

i narrowly escaped cyclist spit today in prospect park.

Ugly Bastard said...

One of my fondest memories of being a messenger was getting hit by a cigarette. I stopped, (using my brakes) lent down, picked it up and returned it to sender before chucking a quick u-turn and disappearing down a side street.

PS If you ride past me with no helmet and no brakes I'm likely to deliver a lump Kryptonite to your head PUSSIES!!!

daddo.one said...

Anonymous said...
I bet she shallows,at least she did mine

no dude - my girlfriend, not your sister

Anonymous said...

I know this is totally unrealated to this post but i couldn't keep these monstrosities to myself. and who better to understand then BSNYC....


http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2187/1805487732_36918c2751_b.jpg



http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2133/1804646295_a9f2a24e33_b.jpg

Eric said...

Getting spit on is disgusting. However, we do the worst to each other. Early morning pacelines with cyclists with running noses, you must avoid the snot rockets casually launched. The most disgusting in my recollection was the AZ Ironman,>>>warning triathlon content<<<. I was behind a girl with an obviously full bladder who let go, without even pulling to the side. The splash factor was extreme when the urine hit her rear wheel, me in my aerobars got out of the splash zone a bit too late. Great...Thanks Lady!

Anonymous said...

Someone poured their beer over my bike last night and left an MGD bottlecap on the seat. I don't know what offended me more: that someone poured beer on my bike or that they poured MGD on my bike. My bike would never drink MGD.

bikesgonewild said...

...while my sense of good taste is being challenged by some of todays replies, somehow my intellect, not so much...

...bsnyc, betcha yer paused for thought regarding tomorrows revelations, huh ???...

...cheers to the 'regulars' who help keep it regular on a site that could never be construed as 'regular', if ya know what i'm sayin'...

Anonymous said...

we have to remember ,they are just bikes,we need to be has one in this nation,

leroy said...

Yeesh, BSNYC, you've got a point. Why did you have to go and write about loogies?

It seems to have set some folks off.

In all the commotion, I almost missed Sean's limerick adding a touch of class to the subject with a little poetry.

I think that I shall never see,
a post as gross as a loogie....

Steve said...

I was once passed with inches to spare by a callow youth in a Toyota. I caught him at the light, attempted to engage him in polite remonstration, but my efforts were thwarted as he simply started to roll away.

His window was down, however, and I used the only weapon at my disposal. He chose to exit his vehicle and engage me verbally but quickly changed his mind when he saw the psychotic gleam in my eye and met the full wrath of one almost road-killed.

Asshole had the nerve to say that I should have been farther to the left - I was ready to tear him apart with my teeth. And I could have.

Not my proudest moment.

D. said...

Dear BSNYC,

This is off topic. Love your blog, it's hilarious.
The urban hipster/fixie thing is sure annoying
(in full force here in Eugene, despite not being
urban.) But you might direct your talents
also to the following, for example, who are in desperate
need of ridicule: weight weanies (I know,
every once in a while you throw them a
bone), the fully-lugged/honjo-fendered/
brooks/waxed-canvas & wool crowd,
the utility cyclers anti-globalization/
kill-your-television mob,
and the English three-speed
aficianados. I belong to several of these
groups.
Cheers!

the jinji said...

had an orange thrown at me from a car going about 55; blew up on my rear wheel. painful, sticky, and doesn't lube.

vashonwashington said...

Sooo very funny, you make my belly hurt. Filth and trash are bad, however dodging druken Red Sox fans is very unplesant, but the worst in Boston are the F.A.M.S. (fake a#@ messengers).

Marrock said...

BSNYC talks about loogies and the monkeys start flinging crap...

Coincidence?

You decide.

Ernest said...

the last two guys to spit at me were marilyn manson and some guy who is now in a place with free rent, orange jumpsuits, and no girls. I think that the second guy might have it better. No bikes were involved though.

I have had a frozen bottle of water thrown at me when I was biking. It hit my handle bars. I chased the car but they sped up to about 65MPH (on a resident street non the less). The car had no plates...

Once when I was running in Toronto I had somebody spit at me. I chased them and caught them at the light. I demanded that the guy get out of his car and he did not....

Jim said...

Eric, that's f&*&ing disgusting.

No, not the part about getting peed on by the triathlete chick. The fact that you were a triathlete, and you dated a triathlete. Oh well, on the upside, after admitting to that, things like picking up the huge box of tampons for your girlfriend, noticing your parish priest behind you at the pharmacy while you buy the jumbo box of cherry flavored condoms, and coming out of the closet to your parents and admitting you roller blade must seem easy.

Hey, if you're an actual bicyclist, why didn't you enlighten the firehose girl on the 'pull to the side pull up the shorts leg' trick? Say, you're not a fake cyclist, are you?

Anonymous said...

Yo dude, the worst, like WAY WORSE, is when the cabbies empty out their water bottles that they previously filled up with their pee. Now THAT is fucking gross!

Greg in Brooklyn

Jim said...

I dislodged a snot upon one of the Vegan Athlete guys once and he was quite a gentleman about it.

Tim (not that other Tim) said...

The best has got to be the down home mixture of copnhagen loogie and sunseed shell gatorade bottle emptied out the window so that the driver can recycle. Somehow the three-day old spit holds that viscous stinky ball together even at 35 m.p.h.

Question. Why are all the most immature, limp-dick, cowardly posters anonymous. Oh wait, i just answered my own question.

Fortunately I have reformed and no longer kill them for a living. Not that we could ever find them in their anonymity.

Steph said...

BS, I love you, will you marry me?

Anonymous said...

In the big bike wheel of the universe, NYC is the hub. Seems like it's time for a good cleaning and regrease, all you bearings seem to need it, too much friction-runnin' a bit rough and cruddy. Geeez, who'd looge on someone?

Fritz said...

"Oedipal tendencies..." that has to be the most refined euphemism for "you m**** f****!" I've ever seen.

I think your toast & greasy spoon simile needs some work, though.

Chazu said...

Malcontents spewing mal-formed malicious monologues (or trying to, anyway) won't keep Snob away.

Besides, he's already received one marriage proposal. He'll be back for more.

PS: Yoohoo, Snob, this is your cue to publish today's post. I've finished my lunch already....

PPS: Jim, thanks for keeping the tradition alive with the Lance reference. We should sell "pukeSTRONG" wristbands.

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