Since yesterday's PSA was a resounding success (despite the fact that even I went "commando" today in the fender department) I've decided to create another one. Unlike fender use, which is really something that doesn't affect other cyclists unless they're riding right behind you, this new PSA targets a group of riders who are a menace to us all. I am referring of course to those directionally-challenged irritants known as "bike salmon." Hopefully this will help them understand that they've got it all backwards:
As you can see, this is sort of a twin-pronged PSA in that it addresses both bike salmoning and personal hygiene, and it's designed to help clean up both our city's streets and our city's crotches.
In the meantime, though, salmoning is rampant. (On the streets, that is. That should not be construed as a crotchal reference.) Just this morning in fact I had a salmon encounter that incorporated so many infuriating elements I might have very well attempted to flog myself to death with my own fenders had I been palping them:
Please note the following elements (from left to right):
--Self-important person blithely texting in bike lane;
--Self-important person's German luxury car with Jersey plates also in the bike lane;
--Trek Madone (with aerobars!) on the roof of German luxury car with Jersey plates;
--Approaching bike salmon in sport jacket.
Ordinarily, any one of these elements by themselves would be annoying enough. When taken all together though it's nothing less than a perfect storm of stupidity; a clustercoital nightmare; a moronic morass so sticky and deep it simultaneously makes me doubt the existence of a God that would allow this to happen yet convinces me that God indeed exists though he lives only to pester me.
Nonetheless, like a cyclocross rider on a muddy course, I resolved to simply power through it. Claiming my rightful line, I forced the salmon to take evasive action, and also managed to get a shot of his soft underbelly as I passed:
Note the headphones. I wonder if he also listens to his music backwards and with his earbuds reversed. Either that, or perhaps there are backwards messages hidden in his Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or whatever other neutered "indie" rock band he may be listening to which are commanding him to ride counter to traffic. In any case, I was pleased to find after developing the photograph and emerging from the darkroom that I did at least force him to grab a fistful (or at least a pinkieful) of brake. And fortunately for him, he survived the encounter, and I'm sure he made it safely to work where he annoyed his colleagues by flushing the toilet before using it and not after, or whatever else it is bike salmon do with the rest of their days.
Apparently, though, not every New York City bike commuter's trip is fraught with tribulation. A reader recently forwarded this video of another New Yorker's commute, which is in marked contrast to my own experiences:
I'd be very interested in knowing what kind of job this person has, since his (or her) commute seems to consist entirely of looking at pretty things. Is he an LSD tester? Does he work as a professional gnome, running around Central Park in a pointy hat and amusing tourists? Maybe he's some kind of poet laureate and he's going to sit on a bench and write some treacly crap about the guy with the saxophone. He should try actually riding in the street and dealing with ugly crap like the rest of us. Then he could ditch the poetry gig and start writing death metal lyrics.
Here's another bike commute (this one from Raleigh, NC) forwarded to me by another reader:
That's a pretty busy cockpit he's got there--I'm not sure I'd be able to find the time to use all that stuff in 3.6 miles. I suppose I'd be able to switch on the light, and maybe I'd manage to ring the bell once or twice if I were to go out of my way to do so, but there's no way I'd get around to scrolling through any of the functions on the computer. Then again, the streets of New York are busier than the streets of Raleigh, so it could just be that handlebar clutter varies inversely with population density. Take London for instance. That's a very busy city, and people there don't put anything on their bars at all:
But while the handlebars may be bare, there's no shortage of leather elsewhere on the bike. Those massive toe straps look like western stirrups, and the bars look like the bike is flexing its "guns." Maybe the leather bands on the frame are supposed to be weightlifting belts. It's the Hans & Franz of fixed-gears:
I wonder if the rider looks like Patrick Swayze.
But if the bike above is a power lifter, this white bike with its dainty riser bars and "Bike Love" message is decidedly more diminutive:
It makes me think of a lemur doing a pirouette:
Yes, New York City is filled with pirouetting lemurs. Rumor has it that they defected from the Bolshoi in the 1960s, escaped the Soviet Union in a shipment of Volga engine parts, and eventually made their way to the USA. Of course, since New York is now rife with agile lemurs, it's a very bad idea to leave your helmet outside with your bike, since you could return to find one of them sleeping in it:
There was no lemur in this helmet (believe me, I checked) though I must say that this is awful helmet placement. Helmets tend to smell of their owners, and dogs love smelling things that smell like people. And anybody who's watched a dog knows that once they've finished smelling something they urinate on it. Furthermore, as I've said before, anybody who's watched anybody walking a dog in New York City knows that people let their precious dogs urinate on absolutely anything. I see dogs urinate on bicycles all the time. The only explanation I can possibly come up with is that the person is actively trying to collect canine urine samples. Maybe he works for the UCI.
But if the emails I've been receiving lately are any indication, there's no place stranger than Sweden. First of all, people there are riding sex swings:
According to the website, the Pedersen bike is "designed as a series of triangles" to "obtain the maximum amount of lateral rigidity." Furthermore, the "hammock-saddle" gives "a comfortable ride, which is to the advantage of people with back trouble." Now that's what I call "laterally stiff and vertically compliant"--there's nothing more vertically compliant than a hammock. Still, I don't buy the "back trouble" thing. That sounds too much like an excuse someone might give for having a vibrator. If you're going to rub a bike with a "banana hammock," at least be up front about it.
But while a "ride" on a Pedersen might put a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip, there are other bikes in Sweden that will lock up your strut instead of loosening it up:
Oh yeah. That's not going anywhere.
And neither is this:
Now that's a safe way to commute by bike. I wonder what the bike salmon in Sweden do, though. Maybe they just pedal backwards.