Thursday, August 6, 2009

Public Servitude: Making the Streets Safe for Absurdity

Obviously, as I posted earlier this morning, it's a melancholy day. However, in sad times sometimes it can be helpful to lose ourselves in the absurdity of cycling. The truth is, the entire cycling world must be doping, because chemical assistance is the only explanation for the manner in which it constantly manages to out-crazy itself. Take for instance this "Biking Rules" contest, organized by the nerds at Transportation Alternatives (yes, we cyclists are all nerds, but they're especially nerdy since they're a "dot org"):


Well, I guess I must find Birkenstocks and Dutch bikes intimidating, because they somehow wrangled me into jury duty:

When they asked me to be a juror, my first inclination was to decline, mostly because I hate the word "biking." To me, "biking" is a belittling term that evokes fanny packs and hybrids, and I prefer the somewhat more dignified "cycling." However, "Biking Rules" is a contest wherein people create cycling PSAs, and it just so happens I'm an amateur PSA enthusiast myself, as you can see here, here, and here. For this reason, the opportunity to judge others' PSAs was an enticing one. More importantly, there is a $4,000 prize, and ITTET this is a rare chance for me to not accept any bribes. Yes, please be aware that I will not be bought. So if you do submit, please be sure to email me and let me know how much you are not willing to pay me so that I can not give your submission any special consideration whatsoever. Then, if you somehow manage to win anyway, we can meet up in a secret location and I can refuse to accept a brown paper bag full of cash. So if you enjoy making PSAs as much as I do, be sure enter the contest (extra credit will be given for general flambullience, or if you're the moody filmmaker type Werner Herzog tributes with titles like "Ag-gear-re, the Wrath of Cog" are also acceptable).

Speaking of public service, I often post cycling-related "Missed Connections" from the bowels of Craigslist. While I ostensibly do this to ridicule them, I also must admit that I secretly hope that one day I can help two people come together, and that eventually they will have a child and name it after something from this blog. (For example, I think the name "Labial Palp" is quite mellifluous.) In fact, you may recall that on Monday I posted about a red light-running bike salmon who coldcocked a pedestrian and consequently tried to "hook up" with him via Craigslist. Well, I'm afraid my posting about it didn't exactly result in a love connection, but it did result in an anonymous tipster close to the assailant actually sending me a photo of the two-wheeled menace who authored the post:


Remarkably, she's riding with the traffic, and she's also just made it through the yellow light.

I realize it's not a very revealing shot, but it's all we have to go on, so I've gone ahead and created a "Wanted" poster:

Please print this out and post it in bike shops, coffee shops, faux dive bars, Urban Outfitters, stores that sell tight pants and giant "celebutard" sunglasses, and anyplace else where people who know this rider are likely to congregate. The tipster informs me that this is not the first time this rider has hit a pedestrian, and it's only a matter of time before she strikes again. The only thing worse than a hit-and-run is a hit-and-run-and-attempted-online-hookup. That's truly adding indecency to injury.

Yes, cycling in New York City is fraught with danger. It's also fraught with futuristic interpretations of the city bike, like this specimen which I spotted (where else?) in front of the Apple store in SoHo:


I had to scrutinize the bicycle for a few moments in order to find a clue as to the manufacturer. Finally, I found something that seemed to say "Moof:"

This was puzzling. I've heard of a MILF, I've heard of a Mawg, and I've even heard of a Moog, but I've never heard of a Moof. So I turned to a popular search engine, where I learned that it's actually a "Vanmoof." The top tube is extra long because it houses front and rear lights, which I'm sure has the people at Knog breaking out in stress-induced hipster cysts:

Like other pretentious bicycles, the Vanmoof is not sold in bike shops. Instead, it's sold at a place called "Areaware," which according to their website is "a New York City based company renowned for unique design products with an emphasis on forward thinking technologies and original expression. Our products are decorative but go beyond ornament. Each has an underlying meaning which we believe can deepen the relationship people have with the everyday objects in their lives." Personally, I'm wary of any retailer that requires that many words to explain itself, and which can't simply be described by the word for what it sells and "shop," as in: "bike shop;" or "coffee shop;" or "gun shop." (Well, I'm also wary of gun shops, but that's something else entirely.) I wonder what happens if you need a new tire or grip for your Vanmoof and you go back to Areaware. Can they sell you one, or do they only have things that are "decorative but go beyond ornament?" "Sorry, we don't carry inner tubes, but we do have this bookend shaped like a rollerskate."

Incidentally, I couldn't help noticing that neither of the Vanmoof's wheels were locked. Granted, I didn't take the time to examine the bike, so it's possible the axles have some kind of post-modern expressionist theft-deterrent nuts. However, assuming they didn't, the owner really should take the time to secure the wheels, or else this could happen:


Missing wheels is an all-too-common site in the city. Here's another bike with an unlocked front wheel:

I will admit though that perhaps locking the front wheel isn't necessary here. Given the tire's boa constrictor colorway, it's entirely possible the typical drug-addled bike thief will mistake it for an actual snake and keep a safe distance.

Another popular theft-deterrent is the threatening sticker:


I'm no fan of beatdowns, but even I agree that anybody desperate enough to steal a component off of this sorry thing deserves whatever happens to them:

Incidentally, note the fact that both wheels are locked securely.

Yes, in New York City it can often seem as though the nicer the bicycle is, the more poorly it is locked. While the step-thru Giant above has two locks and a threatening sticker, this Gunnar has a single u-lock attached to the top tube only:

Moreover, it is locked to the horizontal beam of a scaffolding. This is bad locking practice, as the beam can easily be removed by a thief by loosening a single bolt. The same goes for this bicycle:


There are some other problems as well:

Actually, on closer inspection, the owner did get the chain around a diagonal beam as well, so perhaps it's safe after all and a cunning ploy to kill the thief when the scaffolding comes crashing down on him. Still, regardless of what you lock up to, leaving lots of slack in your chain lock just gives thieves more to work with--though I will admit that most cyclists park their bikes much better than Park Slope residents park their cars:

Perhaps the government should scrap "Cash for Clunkers" and start "Fixies for Clunkers" instead. That way, people like this could just lock their bikes up poorly instead of blocking half the street. Just turn in your VW, take your voucher to Urban Outfitters, and get yourself a Republic.

97 comments:

ant1 said...

SUSAN1st!

Anonymous said...

Thanks EPO!

c murder said...

Rock and roll!

Top ten!

cherepuga said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

Woot! Woot!

ervgopwr said...

Early today EW. TOP 10!

OAKsteader said...

F-yeah. Top Ten!

Anonymous said...

Top ten!

Yeehaaw!

Lantern Rouge said...

Top 10!

ant1 said...

Thanks for the laughs snob.

Mark said...

In the top 20 and I am in Manny Hanny today! Too bad I am not being the PODI UMHO that I usually try to be.

ken e. said...

"do you know how many time zones there are in the soviet union?"

rezado said...

Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, then dreidel I shall play.

Anonymous said...

Can I trade my clunker for a grupo upgrade? I must have more crabon bits!

Luck E. Seven said...

DOWN NOUT



.-

Astroluc said...

Designed in Amsterdam, VANMOOF’s unique aluminum construction houses two solar powered lamps for dual visibility. This single speed sleek and smooth urban cruiser is both smart and conscientious.

indeed.

hillbilly said...

thanks for the laughs, and congrats to ant1 on a well deserved victory. he just had the legs today. if only i had a better team i might have stood a chance, but the bozos i ride with...

oh, the wanted poster woman is not obeying proper "biking rules" etiquette. not that i care, but don't they include something about having to use a bike lane when available? i guess as a serial salmon she knows better, knows that that is where all her fellow salmon will be.

mikeweb said...

top 20 - YEAH ant! Nice!!

Astroluc said...

and I LOVE the areaware +$2000 folding bike that they describe as "lightweight, well-balanced full size bike.
Bike Weight: 32 lbs (14.7 kg)
"

lightweight indeed!

mikeweb said...

gotta ride home now and wait for TimeWarner to show up. Will read and participate in the witty reparte post-haste.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laughs.

rezado said...

Is the lexus ad supposed to be ironic?

Luck E. Seven said...

Did you see this?

RCNY § 4-14 (c) No person shall ride a bicycle in any park, except in places designated for bike riding; but persons may push bikes in single file to and from such places, except on beaches and boardwalks. Schluffing shall be openly mocked.



.-

Surly Bastard said...

Needed a good laugh. Thanks.

kale said...

I've just started pre-production of my BikingRules PSA/Lifetime drama "A Schluff in the Dark."

The premise is simple:

Shanté, a young, intelligent LaGuardia CC co-ed (played by Rosario Dawson) has her dreams of becoming a paralegal dashed one dark night by a roving menace: The Schuffer. She finds solace when a handsome attorney, Rick (played by Paul "Buns of Steely" White), takes up her case.

In the process of tracking down the assailant they find out about themselves, their bodies, and their intertwined dreams. They also learn why you should yield to pedestrians.

For some reason there's already reviews:

"I don't understand all the acronyms, what the fuck does RTMS stand for, and what's with all the cameltoes?"
-Roger Ebert

"This made me want to cry, but I had a boner, so I was really confused and shit"
-Judd Apatow

BikeSnobNYC said...

Kale,

Epic! You win. How's 50/50 sound?

--BSNYC

kale said...

If the Kona's is the "Ute" we can take turns riding on the back.

You get to pedal up the hills of course.

Wes said...

RTMS

I don't hate critical comment so much that I won't do it myself, but strictly speaking, the horizontal beams are called ledgers, the diagonal ones cross braces and I would imagine the duct tape is covering a coupler to prevent snagging of, and the resulting suing by a particularly litigious clumsy pedestrian, which ITTET is fairly likely.

Other than that, well done!

Fast Eddie said...

If the LEDs on that Moof are solar powered, there better be backup batteries or something, otherwise they're useless at night when you really need them.

Anonymous said...

F E

Possibly solar charging a battery?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Wes,

Thanks! I always appreciate learning correct terminology. And there I was thinking I was being smart for not just calling them "poles." I'm now off to remove that duct tape and have an unfortunate snagging "accident."

--BSNYC

Disgruntl Ed. said...

I was pleased to see the word "mellifluous" in today's post, especially as your use of it was so apt.

After a ride on a cold winter day, such a name would flow off the tongue like chilled honey from a cold spoon.

mikeweb said...

home now... reading

bikesgonewild said...

..."knock, knock"...

..."who's there ???"...

..."isabel"...

..."isabel who ???"...

..."is a bell necessary for yer bicycle after someone has already stolen yer front wheel or you have tires so exceedingly reptilian as to scare the fuck out of any drug addled mind w/ thievery as an agenda ???...you know, 'that' isabel"...

..."oh ya...c'mon in"...

Greg said...

I am SHOCKED that Bike Snob NYC had nothing witty to say about the Strida bike on the Areaware website!

http://www.areaware.com/images/landings/transport.jpg

Anonymous said...

snob-who are the characters with the urban outfitter nasa bike? is one of them spiderman?

libertyonbikes! said...

and that's why you always carry a sharpy.
change that f to a T

MOOT=doubtful, no meaning

adjective 1. open to discussion or debate; debatable; doubtful: a moot point.
2. of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic.

maybe it's time to make some BSNYC
seal of disapproval stickers...

Wes said...

Snob.

No problem whatsoever. Any chance of the same 50/50 deal you offered Kale? This one is for the big bucks, get snagged good, crotchal for big media attention - Top Twitterer (artistic licence coupled with paper's ignorance) in Teste Tangle.

bikesgonewild said...

..."hey, btw, isabel, ya gotta extra toestrap 'cuz scary as my tires are, somebody stole one a' my straps ???"...

..."nah but them are some nice looking toeclips" (inside joke, twenty years later, just sayin')...

Anonymous said...

Sort of like riding a flashlight, no? Still, I like it, what can I say.

Anonymous said...

and the strida would be like riding a stepladder. I saw one of those in use BTW. The rider was cruising along at a pretty good clip, and it looked like something out of Dr. Seuss.

mikeweb said...

Snob, relevant and funny as always!

Those non-wheel locking, horizontal bar using bike owners must've read this article and gotten a false sense of security.

BTW, Time Warner still hasn't shown up at my house.

Isolation Helmet said...

On the cyclingnews.com site not only did they review the $175Rapha "wool" short sleeve summer jersey but they used the word colorway in the review.

Who woulda thunk!

Rajiva said...

Thank you BSNYC, for hipping me to the term Celebutard.

Rantwick said...

Does the fact that I sport a fanny pack mean that I'm into "biking"? I think not.

WTG and well said, ant1.

TheTye said...

An Irish man asked me to "moof" out of his way on the bike trail. He also said "hon yer lehf"...

Strayhorn said...

Thanx for the close-ups of the Moof. Proves positive that "Our products are decorative but go beyond ornament" means "gas pipe drilled and butt-welded by students in shop class but we're going to charge you like it was the finest product of Pinarello or BMC."

Although it's kind of heartening to know that Apple's sales techniques have spread to the world of cycling. That way, when you see someone with one of their products at a party or a bar, you can immediately hope you remembered to change your sheets before you left the house.

bikesgonewild said...

...btw, bsnyc/rtms...it's nice to see you've retained yer integrity as per the "biking rules/psa/transportation alternatives" film thingy...

...therefor, i'd like to submit a "phantom film" & a large brown paper bag full of moolah, dinero, the old buckeroos...i'm hoping the right cash incentive will get me the kind of reviews i need to win, despite never having made a film in the first place...

...when i say "i'm in it, to win it, motherfuckers !!!" i'm really sayin' i gotta "stimulus package" ya can't refuse...'cuz beating kale's creativity just seems like a little too much work...

innerlighter said...

@ ken e.

"...yes, but not just the right of free travel but...eleven..."

...it's not even funny...

...it's ridiculous


meh

ant1 said...

bgw - nice isabel joke.

nycifyouare said...

poor fatty. great blog today snob

nycifyouare said...

poor fatty. great blog today snob

Salty Seattle said...

I venture that the jolly, green Giant is the temporary replacement bike for a poorly locked Seven. Or perhaps Rodriquez.

I'm trying to think of what the future upgrade-bike will be, but ITTET, it's anybody's guess.

bikesgonewild said...

...ant1...thanks...learned the basic premise when i was about 8 years old but hey, i was a bike guy then & i'm still a bike guy now...that in & of itself is pretty cool...

...it occasionally bears repeating, sometimes w/ "modifiers"...

Anonymous said...

Moof .... see dogcow.

Salty Seattle said...

Hey Wes-

Are the terms you gave UK/NYC specific?

I'm pretty sure that there known as 'the things on that annoying construction thingy' here.

Oddly, bikes don't usually disappear from them, either.

Anonymous said...

You have too much shit, if the following sentences mean anything at all to you.

"....an emphasis on forward thinking technologies and original expression. Our products are decorative but go beyond ornament. Each has an underlying meaning which we believe can deepen the relationship people have with the everyday objects in their lives."

stream of nothing said...

property is theft, theft is property, theft of property is theft, property of theft is property.....

Anonymous said...

Snobby: Sorry this is the next day ... you can get a geiger counter on E-Bay from betwen $49.00 and $349.00 for a true geiger counter. Cheaper models are just dossimeters. (I don't know what any of that means) but there is a buying guide here :
http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/science/geiger-counters.htm. Hope that helps.

But first stock up on iodine pills.

Anonymous 7:15 p.m. yesterday

Anonymous said...

cash for clunkers is a ploy to rid the world of analog radio. it's that simple.

Anonymous said...

transalt sounds like something that i should be avoiding in my fast food.

Anonymous said...

i just got touch phone finger tip burn TPPTB from scrolling your comments.

Anonymous said...

rip sheldon. i miss the jump to top of page links.

Anonymous said...

Can you set up an RSS feed for bikesnobnyc?

If so... how? Seems all the other blogs make it real easy, bikesnob... not so much.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:33
a dossimeter is a onetime use instrument to monitor how much radiation one has been exposed to for a specific time period.

Dr. Science said...

I wear my dosimeter when I'm operating my XRD, SEM, and Alphaspec.

Anonymous said...

Isolation Helmet-
Glad you brought that up. As much as Rapha has been ridiculed, no one has pointed out that they are charging ridiculous amounts for a 50/50 wool blend. Assos may be overpriced, but there's a certain integrity to the way they market their gear.

ken e. said...

innerlighter,

quoting negativeland, sampling some 50's squarehead, missed the punchline by not placing 11th.

Anonymous said...

those tubes on the scaffold are called tubes, we call em runners(horizontals) and sways(diagonals) here in the southern outskirts of chicago-- anyway, wes is right. the ductape is only there to hide the fact that any of those members can easily be removed with a 7/8" wrench. http://www.daystarscaffold.com/images/Swivel%20&%20Right%20Angle%20Clamps%202.JPG

Kurt Vonnegut is King said...

The ledger-locked bike also appears to be doubly-protected by some kind of bio-security pox on the sidewalk.

Seriously, is that gum? What the hell? Does Burt Reynolds live there?

innerlighter said...

ken e.,
yeah, that would have been a good one. I should have seen that.

...no other possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Friom the Vanmoof site.....

"VANMOOF: fast, slick and hater-proof!"

The built-in lights also get described as "strong and hater-proof."

Evan said...

The giant actually has 3 locks if you count the one strapped to the saddle.

Wes said...

Salty

Good point. My knowledge of the correct nomenclature around the world is sadly lacking.

A similar problem arose before the term wheelbrows was coined and we had the rather ugly mid-atlantic fudguards.

Anon 9:21 appears to have it all down pat.

Uncle Bob said...

The Moof (My computer can't handle the wacky font) may be more sinister than you realise. That oversized top-tube is plainly intended to conceal a harpoon-gun or missile-launcher.

Before I decided I was too boring to be a blogger, I broke the story of city bicycles equipped with heavy-calibre ordnance in my review of the Finnish
Tunturi Chat.

Aaron said...

surely Moots deserved a link in this post...

Zamankhan said...

your blog is nice

Gumtree said...

"Moof" is the call of Clarus, the dogcow, first seen on early Macintoshes. So, appropriately, it belongs outside an Apple store.

Anonymous said...

AYHSMD*

*NSFW

Anonymous said...

pics of slovenly parked bikes yay! I was about to pack my rucksack, sling it over my shoulder and head out for a hike on the Iran/Iraq border but now I can just stay here and enjoy.
thanks again

bob todd said...

people who take photos of badly parked cars

CommieCanuck said...

"Moof" is the sound a dachshund with deviated septum makes.

Good to see someone finally acknowledged moose knuckles. I hope Fatcyclist will look back at that contest in a little while and have a chuckle.

No offense, but I'll buy a Jewish bike when I buy a Jewish car, or a Canadian TV.

Hughes was interesting, he made it big at 28 with a Mad ave ad agency, then fucked off to National Lampoon at 1/10 his salary, make it big there, then just quite when he was at his peak to run a farm, then he croaks at 59...somewhere, there is a lesson in all that.

--BCJPMS

Anonymous said...

Hey BSNYC and fellow bikers,

I live and ride in metro Detroit and as a general rule it sucks as drivers try to run you down on the regular. Since it's the motor city I guess they assume anyone who tries to commute by anything other than a car should be run over. Our cities radio stations even support the assault of bicyclists. Check out bikeportland.org as they have some info on one of our local radio station's DJs and how they hate bicyclists and feel they should be "grand theft auto-ed." They especially seem to hate anyone wearing cyclist clothes?!

I wish I lived somewhere where I could commute in relative safety. Where perhaps the worst thing that happens to me is a random u lock beat-down or, even worse, my raggedly old bike being spotted, photoed, and ridiculed on this blog.

I'm envious of you snob!

Anonymous said...

http://vanmoof.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=111_123&products_id=190

It only takes 3 seconds to install this Vanmoof bell.

How many seconds to steal it?

At 4.50 euros, that'd get expensive in a hurry.

Andrew said...

Great to see this..really amazing..


___________________
Andrew
Get your company name famous across the world with online marketing

Anonymous said...

http://bikeportland.org/2009/08/11/performance-rap-music-video-pokes-fun-at-fixed-gear-riders/

GeeMacDee said...

the snake skin tires are Reflective - Bonus!
http://www.sweetskinz.com

Steven Vance said...

Thank you for a great article on theft prevention and proper locking techniques.

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