Bike lanes are a contentious issue in the earnest and dorky world of bicycle advocacy. Some people feel that safe and protected bike lanes are the key to getting more people cycling. Others feel bike lanes are dangerous places to ride, and simply lull riders into a false sense of security when they should instead be asserting their right to the road. Still others feel that bike lanes are an insidious conspiracy of the oil and auto industries, and that they're really just "fly strips for cyclists" designed to lure them to a place where they can be easily doored, stuffed in trunks, and driven to labor camps where they are then forced to melt down their own bicycles and use the metal build replacement doors for cars.
Personally, I like bike lanes. Not because I think they work especially well, but because I think they're symbols of respect. I like that someone has to go out there and paint little pictures of bicycles all over the city for me. So when people park in the bike lane (or stroll in the bike lane, or ride skateboards in the bike lane, or allow their Cocker Spaniels to relieve themselves in the bike lane) I don't get angry because they're inconveniencing me. I'm more than capable of riding among the cars, and often do. No, I get angry in the same way Archie Bunker used to get angry when Meathead would sit in his special chair. I deal with enough crap as a cyclist, and the least the DOT can do is give me my special chair and make municipal employees fluff the pillows for me every so often by freshening the paint and filling the potholes. And when someone's in my special chair I get really annoyed. Sure, I could go sit somewhere else, but I don't want to! Get the hell out of my chair, Meathead!
Of course, as you may have seen on Gothamist or in the New York Post, some people don't want us to have a nice comfy chair, especially when we lounge in that chair in our metaphorical underpants. Indeed, it seems as though the Hasids of Williamsburg are upset about the fact that scantily-clad female cyclists are pedaling up and down the bike lanes that pass through their neighborhood, consequently driving these pious, scholarly gentlemen mad with lust and distracting them from the Talmud. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Where are these bike lanes exactly, and will the Hasidic community also object if I bring my own comfy chair, place it on the sidewalk, and sip mint juleps as I watch this skin show on wheels?"
Well, firstly, it's important to keep in mind that if you're not a member of an ultra-Orthodox religious group you're probably not going to find the display quite as provocative as the Hasids apparently do. (If you're Amish though your head might explode.) Secondly, while it's tempting to say that it's ridiculous for the Hasids to expect the rest of the world to conform to their beliefs and sensibilities, it is important to understand their predicament. For years, they have only had to deal with normal urban sexual temptations, like salacious advertisements, street-walking prostitues, and scantily-clad women dancing seductively in wet t-shirts to salsa music next to open fire hydrants on sultry, hot summer days. Now all of a sudden they've got to deal with the relatively new phenomenon of "hipster" Williamsburg as well, including its concomitant pale-skinned, tattooed, undernourished cyclists on their fixed-gears and old crappy 10 speeds.
Fortunately, I think I can act as an intermediary between these two communities. While I think the Hasids are certainly wrong to oppose bike lanes, I also think it's important for "hipster" Williamsburg to finally begin respecting its neighbors. So I call upon you, "hipsterim" (for lack of a better word) to incorporate some Hasidic wisdom into your own culture, meet with the local Rabbis, and create "Hipster Eruvin." Essentially, this will involve roping off certain sections of the neighborhood in which it will be permissible for you to cycle around in your depraved, lustful, and sensual hoodies, black jeans, and studded belts so that the men of the community might finally bring the raging fires in their loins under control.
(And before anyone out there starts making assumptions about my heritage, just remember you don't have to be Jewish to have read "The Yiddish Policemen's Union.")
In the meantime, as we all know, a good way to cover up a little skin is with a hanky, and as you might remember a certain clothing company sent me a rather expensive one not too long ago. To be honest, before I posted it, I didn't realize how expensive it actually was. Nor, to be even more honest, did I actually think people might actually want it. I sort of felt like Jerry Seinfeld in the "Puffy Shirt" episode. "These? They're making these?!?" But amazingly, people do want it, because the guy at trackosaurusrex is "totally feeling it:"
It's not too often you find yourself having something someone else wants. Now I know how those girls in the Wythe Street bike lane feel--except in this case it's just a blogger lusting after my scarf, and not a Hasidic man lusting after my body. In any case, trackosaurusrex, drop me a line. I may be able to make your dreams come true. I'm thinking I'll give it the "Pista treatment" and let it go for $5 less than full retail. And apart from putting it on once for the photo (and also making a highly recalcitrant dog wear it for a second) it hasn't even been worn. Trust me.
Speaking of free stuff, since the whole hanky thing it's come to my attention that some people think companies actually send me things. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, it's the opposite--companies seem to want to keep their products away from me for fear that I might incinerate them with my gaze or something. Sure, someone recently offered to send me some kind of unguent to evaluate, but I declined. (I have a strict and, to my mind, quite sensible policy of not testing mysterious creams.) So when the people at VeloPress actually offered to send me a book for free and assured me it was not made out of cream I gladly accepted:
If this were a bike part or a piece of clothing or something I probably wouldn't mention it outside of the context of ridicule, but this is a book written by a former pro racer about his time racing in Europe. Writing is hard, and racing is hard, and both can be thankless. So I have no problem thanking Joe Parkin for writing a sordid, funny, and engrossing book which I thoroughly enjoyed, nor with recommending it to anyone who wants to read a book about the underbelly of pro bike racing in the 80s. In the book, Parkin compares racing in Belgium to punk rock, and it's an apt comparison to this book as well--and I mean that in the best possible way, and not in the "Good Charlotte" way.
Just make sure if you do read it you do so in an actual comfy chair and not in the bike lane.
Ride safe this weekend,