Yes, that is indeed an MTA Access-a-Ride paratransit bus being stopped by the police. According to the New York City website, Access-a-Ride provides "transportation for people with disabilities who are unable to use public bus or subway service for some or all of their trips." In actual practice though I have never seen a disabled person--or in fact any person--either board or disembark from an Access-a-Ride bus. This is because it is nearly impossible to get within 50 yards of an Access-a-Ride bus without losing your life as they are driven by Berserkers and are more dangerous than a thousand cabbies. It's like the MTA freebased a bus and put the driver on a mescaline IV drip. Recently I was almost hit by one making an illegal u-turn and the driver yelled at me.
So it's no wonder that I was so happy to see one finally being interdicted by the authorities. Of course, I'm sure the officers didn't actually summons the driver or place him under arrest. They probably just chided him and explained that he really shouldn't pass school buses on the right when they're discharging children, especially if he needs to go onto the sidewalk in order to do it. Still, it's an encouraging sign. (Though I confess I was hoping the officer would reach for his radio--and not to call for backup.)
And you don't have to drive an Access-a-Ride bus to be a raging idiot. Just this very morning, as I traveled along treacherous streets strewn with wet autumn leaves, I got stuck behind a Volkswagen driving in the bike lane. Now, I should admit that I'm prejudiced against Nissans and Volkswagens. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps it's because in New York Nissans seem always to be driven by the kinds of people who customize them with those idiotic retina-searing blue xenon headlights and hang CDs from their rear-view mirrors, and Volkswagens seem to appeal to the sorts of people who only buy products that are promoted by clever ad campaigns and don't know how to operate a fuel pump themselves.
Now ordinarily I might have said something nasty to the driver, or even gone so far as to close the car's foldable side-view mirror to allow myself to pass. (For some reason, this always renders people apoplectic, despite the fact that their mirrors are designed to close and it seems much better for both of us than smashing into it because they cut me off.) Instead, despite my prejudice--or perhaps because of it--I resolved to be polite. At the next light I approached the driver and nicely told her that she had been driving in the bike lane for the last three blocks. She was wearing a leather jacket that was a few sizes too tight, she had aggressively ironed and highlighted hair with lots of product in it (the highlights matched the jacket), and she had lots of skin care product and make-up smeared upon herself as well, giving her entire person the appearance of having been dipped in lacquer. Had I poured a bottle of water on her, it almost certainly would have beaded as though she had been Scotch-guarded. "Thank you for telling me," she replied nicely. And that, I thought, was that.
Naturally though, when the light changed she stayed in the bike lane, this time following me. At the next light I turned around to find she was still there, and I gave her a sarcastic "thumbs up," which she sarcastically returned (her moisturized thumb left a greasy smudge on her windshield), and then we just sat there glowering at each-other until the light changed again. Resolved not to lapse into anger and resigned to the fact that any further action on my part would be futile, I simply went on my way.
You see, there's a water table of anger in the city, and it's often very high. If the encounter had devolved into an altercation, she would have probably just cut off or honked angrily at the next cyclist she came across. Our fight would have been like a heavy rain, an overflow of anger would have been the result, and it almost certainly would have flooded some other peoples' basements as well. Then again, she was an idiot, and she probably just cut off or honked angrily at the next cyclist she came across anyway. And I certainly cut off a few Nissans and Volkswagens on purpose after encountering her. So maybe it doesn't matter. After all, she doesn't have to worry about flooding, since she is completely waterproofed.
Yes, cyclists and motorists both have a lot of anger. And as we've seen, increasing numbers of cyclists are choosing to vent their anger on their rims. This bicycle was recently spotted in San Francisco by a reader:
And then there's this, forwarded by another reader:
This "F*ck Yo Couch" downtube message is obviously an homage to the famous "Chappelle's Show" skit, though it's even more compelling if one considers it outside of that context. It then becomes a bold expression of independence, in that the owner has probably been living on a friend or relative's couch for years while saving the money to build up his bike. And now that the bike is finished, he can finally move on and seek his own couch. Perhaps he can even dare to dream and start pricing futons. (In the furniture heirarchy, a futon is higher than just a couch, though it is lower than having both a couch and a bed.) The "F*ck Yo Couch" message is offensive, true, but the owner has shown restraint by censoring the "F*ck." Also, it's less an insult than it is an expression of exuberance, since he's finally free from his host's draconian couch-related rules, such as not to eat potato chips on it, not to spill bong water on it, and to surrender the remote and vacate the couch when his host's girlfriend wants to watch "Gossip Girl."
Sadly, though, not all frame-borne messages are this eloquent. Recently--on the fixedgeargallery no less--I was dismayed to see this:
This is not the first time we've seen anti-gearism, nor is it the first time we've seen fixed-gear homophobia (though I did attempt to debunk the homophobia). Frankly, it's upsetting to see that the segment of the cycling world that presents itself as the most countercultural so often adopts the most reactionary views. Then again, we are talking about fixed-gear riders, so it is possible this is meant ironically. Perhaps the orange axle monster is a form of puncuation. It could be that just like "!" means the sentence is an exclamation and "?" means the sentence is a question, a rubber orange monster means the sentence is ironic. Language is evolving, after all.
Another thing that's evolving is brake lever placement. A reader recently forwarded me this photo of a downtube-mounted brake lever (or a "DTMBL"), spotted in Davis, CA:
We've seen the TTMBL, the SPMBL, and even the FMBL, but this is definitely something new. It appears that this lever has been mounted to the water bottle boss. I have to admit I'm impressed, because it's rare you see such a sublime combination of ingenuity and stupidity.
And when it comes to cycling and intolerance, there is hope. Recently, I traveled along the Great Hipster Silk Route to the dreaded neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a social engagement. (Nobody wants to socialize with me, but people do want to socialize with other people who are close to me, so sometimes I'm accidentally included.) I fastened my bike to a pole, and when I came out this was taped to it:
Actually, that's not true. It was taped to the bike belonging to the person I was with. In fact, they hit every bike in the neighborhood but mine. (Like its owner, I guess the IOJB screams "Do Not Touch!") This event in particular caught my eye:
While adding "trans" seems inclusive at first glance, upon further consideration I think it's unnecessary. If they're truly inclusive, then surely they consider transsexual women to be women, and so it's implicit that transsexual women are invited. Then again, maybe they mean that the class is open to women (both genetic and transsexual) as well as to female-to-male transsexuals. In other words, anybody but plain old genetic men, who as we all know hate the twin evils of gears and gays.
In any case, all I know is I can't go, and that political correctness is just as confusing as homophobic slogans.