Monday, March 22, 2010

A Matter of Time: Grace Periods

Yesterday, a great change went into effect that will impact the lives of many Americans. While this legislation was hotly debated, and while some feel it will improve the lives of millions, I am of the opinion that it has already started us down a well-lubricated slope, at the bottom of which lies our society's ruin. I am referring, of course, to the New York City Council's decision to add a five-minute grace period to parking meters and alternate-side parking rules:

Here in New York City we are quite accustomed to both accuracy and to doing things quickly. In fact, it's pretty much a way of life for us. Here, the most meager Category 4 racer analyzes his rides right down to the last watt. Wall Street traders gain and lose fortunes on the New York Stock Exchange in a matter of seconds. A moment's hesitation will cost you that apartment you just looked at, or that job offer you just received, or in some cases even your life. Our existence is full of streaming data, quick calculations, and split-second decision-making. We even have a calorie count law here now, so whenever you go to Starbucks and look at the menu you see exactly how fattening your Frappuccino is.

So why do we--a people who are supposed to be the hardiest, savviest urbanites in the United States (if not the entire Western world)--need an extra five minutes to move our cars? I thought we had hustle. Five minutes is an eternity here. We're so fast that they actually named a unit of time after us--Merriam-Webster defines a "New York minute" as an "instant" or a "flash:"

Nevertheless, while a "New York minute" is more than enough time for a New Yorker to execute that career-making multimillion dollar business decision, it's not enough time for that same schmuck to look at his watch and realize, "Whoa, I better move my car!" Apparently we now need five traditional minutes so we can wait for the barista to finish our gourmet coffee beverage and then slowly haul our Frappuccino-fattened bulk down the block to our cars. And of course the fact that people now have an extra five minutes to move their vehicles does not mean that, once they start driving them, they will wait five minutes to return a phone call or a text or an email. No, they will continue to do that as they drive, thereby leaving the old-fashioned split-second life-saving decision making to the rest of us.

Sadly, the only conclusion I can draw from this is that New York is "slipping." It used to be a quick deli coffee in a paper cup and then hitting your car before the officer's pen hit the pad; now it's "five Japanese slow-drippers" and a city-sanctioned grace period. If you're not fast enough to move your car on time or flush enough to pay the fine when you don't then maybe you shouldn't own a car. In this respect, when it comes to car ownership, it should be "survival of the fittest." Instead, though, the struggle for survival is left to the cyclists--who, fortunately, are not only surviving but thriving. Here's one rider who went from accident victim to "Men's Fitness" model:

Here he is bearing his white abs and washboard teeth, with what may or may not be a Chai pendant buried between his hairy pectorals:

I was of course tremendously pleased for Matthew Long, and anybody who forgets to move his car at 9:00 and gets a ticket at 9:04 should read this before whining about it so they can understand the difference between true hardship and mild inconvenience. However, it's also a shame that a firefighter almost had to die in order for the New York Post to write something positive (or at least not overtly negative) about cycling. (According to rigorous Post style guidelines, anything involving cycling is to be covered negatively, and anything involving firefighters is to be covered positively, so in this case the two factors essentially cancelled each-other out.) Personally, I think the Post should have sent Mr. Long to try out the new popular search engine bike directions, but obviously that would not have yielded the slapstick haplessness they wanted.

The simple fact is that, when it comes to matters of timing, introducing grace periods and buffer zones is a dangerous trend. Certain things should be safe from timetables, but parking is simply not one of them, and if this falls who's to say what will be next. What about sports? Maybe we need more grace periods there, too. It seems unfair that teams and individuals should be able to win competitions by margins as narrow as a single point or a fraction of a second. Consider Milan-San Remo, for instance, which took place last Saturday and was won by Oscar Freire:

Certainly Boonen and Petacchi (and Modolo, and Bennati, and Hushovd with his milky frame) worked just as hard as Freire. So why then should Freire get all the credit when all he did was finish a few centimeters in front of them? Say what you will about the UCI, but if the New York City Council were in charge of bike racing then first place would go to everybody who finished inside of a five minute window. As it is, even organizers of unsanctioned bicycle races manage to declare winners and losers. One recent example of this is the "Red Hook Criterium," which took place this past weekend in Brooklyn and which also managed to make VeloNews:

The Red Hook Criterium also illustrates yet another handy use for time. In addition to using it to enforce parking rules and to determine winners, you can also use it to "curate" your participants. Starting a bike race at 11:00pm (as they did with the Red Hook race) ensures that your race will be mostly free from uptight roadies, who become cranky and begin to panic if they are not in bed by 9:30pm. Conversely, beginning races at 6:30am (which is when most sanctioned local races start) ensures that your event will not include the sorts of people who race in t-shirts and beards.

Speaking of irreverent races receiving "mainstream" coverage, Cyclingnews reports that registration for this year's Singlespeed World Championship race is nearly full:

According to the article, if you want to race, you need very little to qualify:
Of course, what they fail to mention is that, unless you're already there, you will also need a way to get to New Zealand. This must be why having "a good sense of humour" is a prerequisite, since if you're coming from North America you will need something to sustain you as you spend thousands of dollars and like 40 hours in a plane in order to participate in an ironic bicycle race while wearing a tutu.

But while irreverence can be expensive, a reader informs me that bicycle advice can be free--as long as you live in (where else?) Portland:

Here is the charitable bicycle advisor explaining to one cyclist why he's having trouble with his rear wheel:

While I applaud the fact that he's not trying to charge for his services, I also don't think the bicycle advisor would be able to "hack it" here in New York. For example, I'm relatively certain that this overpriced pin-up girl/ghost bike "collabo" would leave him at a loss for words:

40's pin up girl fixie/SS 48cm - $1500 (new york)
Date: 2010-03-22, 3:36AM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

this is a 1980's schwinn frame (size 48cm) make me an offer part list below

48 cm 80's schwinn frame

white leader crankset 46t

white riser handlebars / white and black star grips

white/sliver pedals

white chain

velocity glow in the dark polk dot rim (0 miles)

white spokes/black nipples

white saddle

white tires on both wheels

cash only

Also, while I'm sure he'd help you adjust your headset, I doubt he'd be willing to groom your bicycle's beard:

To the dude who waved at me on his bike - w4m (Upper East Side)
Date: 2010-03-19, 11:59PM EDT

I was pretty blatantly staring at you when I was walking somewhere in the 60s near lexington.
You were riding a bike with a full beard and waved at me. I was wearing a red bandana in my hair and red lipstick. I was only staring cause you're a babe.

Instead, he'd probably stand there in silence, perhaps while admiring their skinny jeans:

We admired each other's skinny jeans in silence - m4w - 26 (Williamsburg)
Date: 2010-03-18, 1:08AM EDT

I pulled up to the library and started locking my bike to the railing when you came out and started unlocking yours. Our eyes never met because we were so enthralled with what was going on below the belt. "Look at those jeans," we both exclaimed to ourselves. "How tight, and fashionable, and similar to my own."

I think this is jogging your memory.

As you put on your helmet and mounted your cream-colored geared bike, I felt better about my life, about not owning a fixie despite living in Williamsburg, and about spending my afternoon surrounded by old guys watching porn on the public library computers.

And as you might have guessed, without a fixie or a four dollar coffee, I needed something else to feel good about this afternoon.

Anyway, for all the good-feeling and self-congratulatory populism you inspired in me, I didn't have the courage to tell you that, with your jeans, your bike, and your implicit affirmation of the principle that no one's too hot to go to the library, I think we'd make great hipster-poster-children for the Brooklyn Public.

So let's make this happen.

Alas, the poster should have acted then. Sometimes in life, there are no grace periods.


Anonymous said...

A rare podium?

Unknown said...

Everyone within 5 minutes of posting first should get the #1 post today.

owen said...


meghan said...

top 5

Nogocyclist said...

Holy Smokes!

Sure are early this morning

cheftone said...

Very nice today: classic BikeSnobNYC. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

je suis dans les dix principaux

Mike Smith said...


still not working said...

Not podium

Anonymous said...


DogShot said...

Top 10!

Shram said...

nice callback!

Domestique said...

Unknown at the back of bunch sprint.

ant1 said...

a full 6 minutes between first and second. well done anon 10:58, you're our first grace period winer.

Frank Eeckman said...

need a grace period to decide

mikeweb said...

Looks like a good one...

Anonymous said...






Nogocyclist said...

One question: Why would you need 5 more minutes for a parking meter? Here in Mississippi someone could park a car at a parking meter without putting any money in it, and leave it there while taking a trip to NYC. I have seen cops even pass illegally parked cars in handicapped places without any placard and with the meter expired. Do car drivers in NYC actually get parking tickets?

It is also worth mentioning the real body art that the fireman who looks alot like the Fat Cyclist has. How many hipsters are willing to get an abdominal scar like he has. That one has real meaning, and I can personally attest to it that it really takes something to let someone do it to you (have one right where his is.)

Lawrence of the Labia said...


CK said...

Top 20?

George Not Hincapie said...


Ale Jet said...


g said...

It has been too long since you trolled the missed connections section of Criagslist. A breath of familiar air on a crappy Monday.

Thanks, I needed that.

thegock said...


Disgruntl Ed. said...

I missed the grace period because of my white/sliver pedals. Ouch! Ouch!

Astroluc (Find me on Tumblr and Instagram @Astroluc) said...

hey Daniel McMahon of Velo News... one word; PROOFREAD

RE: "It was just passed 10:00 Saturday night"

YATE said...


Cocklepagnolo said...

Who is this Grace Period? And when do i get her?

Anonymous said...

"bearing" = "baring."

hillbilly said...

hate the grace period, especially since it marks a rare time of me agreeing with Bloomie. will "close enough" start applying to red lights? drunk driving?

hillbilly said...

red hook was a blast, am i the first to dare say it was "off the hook?"

I am the engine. said...

Please, do not start the week this way, I spit up my late morning latte. I again realize, that there is no intelligent life posting on craig's list. Is it weed wednesday yet?
I think readers should recommend minimum biking or dress code standards for single speed championship.

I start with making it a naked ride only, that will cut out the slackers.

I think free bike advice is probable not worth it.

Billy Reid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billy Reid said...

how long is the grace period on paying the parking ticket?

Anonymous said...

I was in NYC and Billyburg this weekend for the first time in a while. What's with all the unemployed lumberjacks? Did they close a mill further up the Hudson or something?

At least before closing, the mill hired female lumberjacks too, it's nice to see equal opportunity in traditionally male trades.

Anonymous said...

Fireman has not tats, cant be relevant to new york times, or cyclists.

Billy Reid said...

Re: I am the Engine

you must be very careful when designating bike rides as naked. While you would think that it would drive off the slackers, it actually attracts them. Did you not see the Flaming Lips video?

Tevye said...

'just passed 10:00 on saturday night" ?
is that a yiddish measurment of time, passed ?
how long is a passed ?


Anonymous said...

I want to know how the traffic agent is going to know that the meter expired less than 5 minutes ago? On the new meters that dole out tickets with time this is possible. On the old fashioned ones, you can't know when it expired.

It's obvious Bike Snob does not play the musical cars game that is called street cleaning rules. The rules are there so that street sweepers can clean the streets. That's great! Unfortunately the streets are not always cleaned, but they still give out tickets. Also, after the streets have been swept, there is no reason to give out tickets, but they still do.

The local governments already waste a lot of our money, why give them more to pocket themselves or spend frivolously on stupid programs. It's not like the parking ticket money goes towards transportation or other things we really need. It goes into the general fund. All you need to do is check the address you send your money to see this is all about getting more cash out of you.

Mongo Pusher said...

Terpstra !

Anonymous said...

matthew long's heroic NYC marathon finish:

Drugs are not working said...

Damn it! Missed the field spring, too busy looking at the girl stickers in my biek.

Craig, The Flanders Fat Cat said...

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Before you guys skewer me, go check this out at .

It's a fight the power kind of self publishing site thats trying to start an end run around the souless big publishing houses and the cookie cutter crap they put out.
Then you can come back and skewer me.

Anonymous said...

Cannot get enough of your gratuitous use of the phrase "japanese slow dripper". More please.

Jefe said...

Parking meter grace periods? This comes from a city that (according to Sunday's NYT), you can be ticketed in an otherwise empty subway car for taking up more than one seat. I guess the difference is that bloated Wall Street types, like the mayor, need to park, and working stiffs take mass transit. I say make the whole town "bike only."

CommieCanuck said...

5 minute parking grace period in New York? What the hell has gone wrong with that town?

Used to be, if you were 5 minutes late for anything, you got a shiv in the ribs, your wallet stolen, and your kidneys on the black market. That was during the Christmas season.

Now, you've all gone soft: 5 minute grace periods, universal health care, ...soon the Irish will be allowed to ride bikes. Well, La dee-dah ladies.

Feh, give me the old days, when guys riding in tight spandex with shaved legs on $5,000 bikes were properly handled in Central Park after dark.


g said...

I got handled in central park once... wasn't wearing spandex though and it cost me $10. Times they are certainly changing.

Anonymous said...


Fingerbang Assistant said...

Transcendant post there on NY Snob, I have a feeling someday we'll all be saying we knew you when it was only BSNYC.

Aren't we all just working for Skittles?

Props to Matthew Long, watch him on YouTube. Nothing looks easy for him.

How did that Dead Tom Boonen podium Milan-San Remo on Saturday?


Udder said...

Taking a cue from the free bike advice guy, I've quit my job and I'm offering to help women learn how to perform oral sex- for free.

It's all about giving back.

uiscebaetha said...

Great kicker, as usual. I found myself thinking about what I would in that librarian's situation. "Sometimes, in life, there are no grace periods."

Anonymous said...

Nobody posted a picture of a bike with a beard?

g-roc said...

5 minutes?! Here in laid back Vancouver, we only get 2 minutes. 5 minutes in New York - may as well be free.

Maybe it's an expansion of the food stamps program - pay for 2 minutes parking and you get 7. Voila! Subsidized latte.

ervgopwr said...

So now based on the BSNYC racing/style manual, you can pass/fail/grace period a race.

with those 'free' 5 minutes, maybe I won't suck as much as I do now.


Salty and Sore said...

"A moment's hesitation will cost you that apartment you just looked at, or that job offer you just received, or in some cases even your life. Our existence is full of streaming data, quick calculations, and split-second decision-making."

I've been trying to explain this to my fellow left-coast residents, but still the conversation ends with a derogatory, "Phhht, New Yorkers." Yes. The term 'New Yorker' is a pejorative here.

I suggest adding a new term to the PC lexicon to better accommodate the spirit of New York, without having to resort to such negativity. I suggest, "New-York-Americans".

CommieCanuck said...

If they had this 5-minute grace period in the 90s-2008, many Golman -Sachs bankers would not feel pressured to leave the meeting early and just say, "OTC derivatives! Great idea".
This will fix America.

For a dead guy, Boonen did remarkably well this weekend, a lot better than that Fausto Coppi guy. meh.


CommieCanuck said...

I got handled in central park once... wasn't wearing spandex though and it cost me $10.

That $10 was leveraged in the OTC derivatives market to eventually the entire GDP of Iceland.


Anonymous said...

"I was only staring cause you're a babe."

A babe?
As in...a pig called Babe?
Yes, I am.

Skip Bartholomew said...

One of Mayor Bloomies boys must have gotten their Lincoln Nauseator towed. Got to be of a certain class to have a car in the city anyway, unless of course you are visiting in which case a 5 minute grace period should be $9.99 and come with an A-1 genu-wine Rolex-type sports watch so you know when to pay up and get out.

Otherwise, put down the fake Gucci and step away from the car. NYPD tow truck action hero time.

Grace Period said...

No duck jokes at least.

Pontius Pilate said...



hillbilly said...

skip - I believe Bloomie was actually against this and vetoed this bill, and city council overturned his veto.

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment regarding the NY Post's story and have to vehemently disagree that the Post's style includes "anything involving firefighters is to be covered positively." Full disclosure I am a firefighter, I am certain that there are times that the Post has in the past been positive about us for the most part they seem to believe that we are greedy bastards that do too little and get paid too much. They routinely attack us regarding pensions, salaries, health benefits and the occasional slight against operations and procedures. It should be known that we actually advocate boycotting the rag. I think that Matty Long gets a pass because he nearly died though dying doesn't necessarily equal positive press from the Post even if its in the line of duty, just read some of the articles about the Deutsche Bank fire.

Anonymous said...

I think anyone who works for the public good should be very proud of the duty they perform; however one encounter still burns me. When in Florida several years ago and hanging out doing laps at the pool at my father-in-laws-retirement community with my kids on vacation, my wife and I got talking to a young healthy athletic fellow who m I learned was a fully retired, fully-disabled, public services employee from NYC police dept. Mind you we were swimming laps and when he left dressed in a jogging suit could have passed for some pro- ball player taking time off from baseball. Still ticks me off everytime I think about it. Not all that unusual from what I hear.

Skip Bartholomew said...

hillbilly - you're right! I take it all back. He's the greatest mayor ever!

Now about that police chief....

Every forest has its secrets. said...

Would you please stop mucking around and cut to the chase? The topic that we all want you to comment on, if you aren't afraid to, is the phenomenon of "package inspections" performed, in my own experience, by those driving cars...perhaps it's because I live in a place where cyclists are seen as alien creatures from another dimension...and aren't used to seeing lycra clad athletes...but, man, I get my junk checked out all the time! A wise guy might say that it pays to advertise (speaking for myself...), but I would prefer to choose my baggy shorts are far more preferable for short rides.

PLease weigh in on this controversial topic!

leroy said...

Sorry I'm late.

Had to feed the meter.

Did I miss anything?

Nogocyclist said...

Anonymous @3:17

No bike with a beard that I could find, but it probably exists. Would a bike beard do?

Go to photo #8 for bike beard

CommieCanuck said...

PLease weigh in on this controversial topic!

See <a href=">Derek Smalls</a>.

Prosthetic schlong is Park Tools #SCHL-003.

CommieCanuck said...

meh, <a href=">Derek Smalls</a>.

CommieCanuck said...

fuck me...

Derek Smalls.

sufferist said...

To weigh in on the topic, there is something to be said for the small packaged man and the cycling benefits rendered. Less chaffing, less shifting to find the perfect position, the downside is that it's harder to urinate over the top of your bib. That and the fact that your member is small.

hillbilly said...

skip - just to be clear, i still hate the guy, was just surprised to be on the same side for once, actually i guess i was with congestion pricing too... but i hate him.

Anonymous said...

Oh Graham, yet another touchpoint of roadie lust--the ability to check out the goods.

Last guy I, um, yeah, non-cyclist. Way too much leg hair, felt like I was wrestling with Sasquatch. Not to mention the package, just meh. Would've welcomed the opportunity for a pre-inspection.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is old. I don't know but I saw it on facebook and thought it was funny:

Odile Lee said...

"Sometimes, in life, there are no grace periods."

Trust me, as a female genderway-most of them are damned, not 'graced'. Bloody annoying.( and thats literally, not aussie)

Odile Lee said...

I agree with frilly.

Besides, even if you guys ain't packing one can always admire your thighs, giving you a sense of manly attainment anyhow.

You call those thighs? Now THESE are thighs!!!
( with apologies to Stuart O 'Grady).

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