Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Lighting Out

Are you a dentist?

Do you like cycling?

Do you fantasize about getting your inseam measured so that someone you've never met can build you the bike of your dreams?

If you answered "Oui!" to all three of these questions, then come to Cyclesport bike shop in Park Ridge, NJ this Saturday, October 23rd! As America's first Serotta dealer, they'll fit you for a "DDS chariot" that will have Charles Manantan of PezCycling News sobbing with envy all over his color-coordinated "hüds." Then, if you're still there at 4:30pm, stick around to see me in my BRA:

If you're wondering what will happen at this BRA, it will involve my giving some sort of PowerPoint presentation. Also, if enough people bring their Serottas, I may hold an impromptu Serotta pageant and award prizes to the winners. If you don't actually own a Serotta, feel free to buy one from Cyclesport during my presentation if you think it has the potential to be awarded "Miss New Jersey." Just make sure the "hüds" match the tapes (to paraphrase the oft-repeated pubic aphorism).

Meanwhile, yesterday I mentioned the controversial protected bike lane on Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and this morning its supporters and its detractors rallied to either support or detract the bike lane, depending on how stupid they were. Sadly, I was unable to attend the rally. This is because, even though I'm only mildly stupid and support the bike lane, I also didn't want to go. However, I did go there "virtually," thanks to social networking network "the Twitter" and the awesome power of "hashish tags," and it sounds like the Forces of Smugness did outnumber the Forces of Obstinate Dim-wittitude and Non-Swiveling Heads by a decent margin:

Also, one member of the "Twitteroni" posted this picture of a bike lane detractor holding a teddy bear and a hastily-"curated" sign:

As you can see, since the bike lane opponents are both unable and unwilling to turn their heads before crossing the bike lane, she is wearing a restrictive turtleneck sweater to keep her nonplussed visage pointed straight ahead. The sign suggests that the bike lane is somehow "dangerous" to "seniors and grandchildren," who are evidently immune to the speeding cars that were there before, and the teddy bear symbolizes the erstwhile innocence of the neighborhood that the bike lane has raped and desecrated with its menacing, green-hued presence. Interestingly, while smugness is usually the weapon of the bike lane supporter, in this instance it is being harnessed by a detractor to stunning effect. This is because she is one of those smug grandparents who is really into being a grandparent, and also really into her grandkids, but who thinks her children are idiots. Consequently, if you're neither a grandparent nor a grandchild, you can go play in deadly bicycle traffic for all she cares.

Speaking of bicycle traffic, I'll certainly acknowledge that, as a grandchild myself, I wouldn't want to be hit by the Flotilla of Smugness that is a Surly Big Dummy:

As you may know, Surly lent me a Big Dummy awhile back, and I continue to find it tremendously useful--so much so that if they want it back they're going to have to send Harry Dean Stanton and/or Emilio Estevez him- or themselves to repossess it, and even then I'd probably just kick one or both of them in the "pants yabbies" and ride away. The above photo shows how it looked yesterday laden with various parcels, including a box from Just Coffee, which contains my eponymous caffeinated beverage, which some lucky "Cockie" contestants will eventually enjoy.

In any case, as I plied the streets of both Manhattan and Brooklyn at the helm of the Big Dummy yesterday, I marveled at the fact that most of my route was amply bike-laned, despite the best efforts of certain teddy bear-clutching protestors with fixed-gear necks. Between the hauling capacity of the Big Dummy and the bicycle-acommodating capacity of the freshly bike-laned streets my errand-running was surprisingly pleasant, and the only thing I longed for was an appropriately captain-y "helmet hat:"

Though I'm sure somewhere one is in the works.

Indeed, New York was so "bikey" yesterday that as I approached the Williamsburg Bridge from Manattan in order to ford the "Big Skanky" back to Brooklyn I was delighted to find the Department of Transportation handing out free bike lights:

The DOT has been working to promote light use among cyclists recently, which is a great idea since the typical Nü-Fred's bicycle is equipped with at least five separate accessories designed to open beer bottles but doesn't have a single light. Granted, I'm not sure the DOT's Verizon-esque ads are exactly CLIO material:

But at least they get the point across. I also think the message is clearer than the "That's Why It's 30" ads for motorists they've been showing on TV recently:



To me, the message is that you need to be careful if you drive at 40mph, but if you keep it at 30mph you can run people down with impunity since they're virtually guaranteed to survive. Just keep that cruise control dialed in to 30, since if you hit somebody there's really no need to stop--especially if the pedestrian is a senior or a grandchild, who (thanks to teddy bear lady) we now know are immune to motor vehicle impact. They just jump up and shake it off.

Still, I do think the DOT should have gone with my light awareness ad:

Though I guess they're not ready to start thinking "outside the box."

Anyway, this sign was a bit more to the point:

And it was drawing a crowd eager to increase their smugness quotient via the judicious application of municipally-distributed blinky-lights:

Hopefully the lights get more "action" than those NYC Condoms, which I'm sure have been mouldering unused in the wallet of many a lonely bike dork for years.

Naturally, I too queued up for a handout, but alas I was denied, since I already had blinky-lights affixed to my Big Dummy and I was clearly trying to take advantage of "the system." Dejected, I continued onto the bridge and returned to Brooklyn:

Where, under cover of night, I switched off my blinky-lights, covered the Big Dummy with camoflage and palm fronds, wrapped roughly 75 pounds of chain around it, and retired it to its secret parking location for the night:

As I did this, I reflected on what had been a successful and pleasant outing in New York City's nascent bicycle infrastructure, and indeed it was only marred by the corn-fed Nü-Fred on a Pista I watched blow a light and almost hit a child on his way home from school. I see that sort of thing all too often, and it's a shame that so many of the city's recent arrivals (to cycling and to New York itself), emboldened by too many "fixie" videos, think that kids are traffic cones in their hill-bombing fantasies. It's also a shame that, to the non-cyclist, what that Nü-Fred did is more visible than a thousand blinky-lights. So enjoy those bike lanes now, because you'll miss them when they're gone.

Speaking of lights, while I do think everybody should use them, I will acknowledge that there's one exception, which is that you don't need a light when you have The Light, as in this "Cockie" submission from Seattle:

Yes, that is indeed Biblical verse, and clearly this particular rider does not adhere to earthly directions but instead follows the Cue Sheet of the Soul.

Also, from the same sender comes this Reverse-Mounted Filth Prophylactic:

Presumably the rider extends it rearward when it's wet, but in dry conditions or when parking instead prefers to use it as a diving board for the "pants yabbies."

Meanwhile, from Portland comes this submission:

At first I was underwhelmed, but then I noticed the quill stem-mounted bottle cage as well as the secondary bottle nestled in the aero extensions. I also noticed a brake, but was unable to trace its cable to any sort of lever, and the mystery of its location is delightfully titillating.

But when it comes to "portaging" beverages, nothing beats a shopping cart cockpit, like this one from South Carolina:

Or, for sheer minimalism, you've got to admire this one:

Caught this one in Philly. The owner told me it had been 'evolving'.
The 'stem' isn't twisted, the bars are supposed to be aligned with the
wheel that way. And yeah, the brake works.


In this case, the brake was the least of my concerns.

77 comments:

Shu-Sin said...

comment reinlisted

samh said...

I spin cranks smoothly /
wheels roll forward straight and true /
burrito after /
haiku by Bill "Sorni" Sornson

Comment deleted said...

This podium deleted by its author.

Shu-Sin said...

now to grub eat

Shu-Sin said...

later to read

reuben said...

stupid phone calls

Anonymous said...

1st again!

santa said...

ho ho ho

Nogocyclist said...

First with a shopping cart/bike.

Nick Cecchi said...

top teeennnnn

shoegazer said...

coasting

Comment deleted said...

Ladies and gentlemen, this marks my final blog race. While I would have preferred to go out on top, I will accept a podium place as a fitting cap to a brief but stellar career.

I will now throw all my energy into coaching frilly to an unquestioned second victory, and then, perhaps, I will get a life (not that samh should take this personally as a hint, or anything).

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

samh said...

For me, taking podium comes and goes with with the seasons (and availability of dope). No offense taken.

mikeweb said...

"Cuz yooouuu, light up my life!"

Comment deleted said...

samh, you are a worthy opponent, and lightening fast on the refresh.

Anonymous said...

comments are weak thus far

hillbilly said...

DOT was handing out bells in the 1st ave bike lane this morning, and demanded I stop at the red light.

Astroluc said...

Hoodoo Guru

crosspalms said...

That Philly cockie reminds me of the time I tried riding my bike with my hands crossed (right hand on left grip etc.). I recommend it as a quick way to throw yourself in the street.

Buffalo Bill said...

The downtube on that last cockie entry appears to have evolved as well.

Desert Rider said...

I hope the bike lane detractors never travel to Munich, although they would get calibrated to the concept quickly...

mikeweb said...

On the lights topic, I've always found it odd that many people who have lights turn them on in broad daylight, draining the batteries and potentially leaving them dead if the rider actually needs to cycle at night.

Then on the other hand, I'd say at least half the people I see riding around when it's practically pitch dark out have no lights and many with no reflectors either.

bk jimmy said...

I stopped by PPW this morning, and from what I could see the anti-bike-lane people were angrier, if nonthing else. There was a typical two-opposing-sides-leaning-over-the-barrier confrontation, and the anti-lane-guy was shouting "IT'S A NO BRAINER!!!"

Very persuasive!

Anyway, here's the little survey thing for any users of PPW.

http://surveymonkey.com/ppwsurvey

Rudimentary HTML guy said...

or click here

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

I'd hit it.

samh said...

The preliminary Cockie submission pics have been tantalizing. But I'm awaiting the finals with baited breath!

Official Cockie/Knuckle Tatoo Gun collabo.

Anonymous said...

I love it when whities fight each other.

Comment deleted said...

Quicksquirt - Grandma?

Comment deleted said...

samh - "bated" breath smells much fresher than "baited" breath.

Comment deleted said...

and yeah, I know I misspelled "lightning", but I'm a hypocrite.

I will never win a cockie engine said...

"Kill the old with a big dummy."
That would be a great nyt article or an awesome name for a garage band.

Where can I get one of those handle bar adapters attached to those center drop bars, on the Portland bike?

I suspect I will have to machine them myself. That would make a great unicorn bike cockie.

I will put drop bars in all kind of configurations, and be readie for cockie contest 2.0

Anonymous said...

The DOT should string a net up over both sides of all the bridges.

Anybody who can't stop before they hit the net gets a free breakset. The rest of us get a cookie.

Shu-Sin said...

comment deleted, i am right there behind you... "this marks my final blog race." AND i'm going out on top... best of luck to all... hope frilly tops. and only now i realize how many refresh-es samh must hit everyday to top.

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

The shopping cart was not found in the wild: often when I'm looking for shopping cart porn, that shot gets returned.

Stupid Name said...

Nobody commented on the "object in front wheel" video yesterday.

I was expecting much from our group of esteemed commenters.

I was at least expecting " how did they get the crash test hipster dummie to look so realistic?"

It was the funniest video I have ever seen.

I want one with multiple hipsters in street scenes. That would be a better use of range rover speedsters resources.

Stupid Name said...

Better yet, all single speed hipster videos would be better if they ended with "object in front wheel".
Keep that in mind Land rover speed demon photographer, and masked weed dude video guy.

Anonymous said...

"This is because she is one of those smug grandparents who is really into being a grandparent, and also really into her grandkids, but who thinks her children are idiots. Consequently, if you're neither a grandparent nor a grandchild, you can go play in deadly bicycle traffic for all she cares."

yes!

Jake Ryan said...

On the Portland bike, I think the brake is actuated when you drink from the Sobe bottle. More minimalist magnitudism.

leroy said...

Bummer. I decided to ride in this AM along the East River and missed a free bell on First Avenue.

Oh well, maybe the DOT will be out tonight with trained bears to catch Second Avenue salmon.

Anonymous said...

I frequently buzz idiot pedestrians who step off curbs without looking or are in bike lanes. If you slow for them, then they feel secure and get worse and worse habits. I've also been known to buzz jaywalkers with my car.

Buzz Osborne said...

Cause I can ford a red eed only street a wide a ree land.
Die-mond make a mid-evil bike a sake a like a ree caste.

Anonymous said...

I frequently buzz idiot bikers who ride through red lights without looking or are on sidewalks. If you slow for them, then they feel secure and get worse and worse habits. I've also been known to buzz cars when I jaywalk.

I am the alarm clock engine said...

I frequently buzz

Jonah Gibson said...

You have to like that, even though it's the "law" and there is a penalty for non-compliance, in NY they still have to hand out free lights to get people to obey the ordinance. When ObamaCare kicks in the provision requiring me to have health insurance that I can't afford, perhaps they'll hand out free policies in order to get me to comply...or do I have to move to NY for that? Just wondering.

christopher robin said...

Isn't it funny
how a bear likes salmon?
Buzz, buzz, buzz,
think he'd like some crabon?

Jace said...

Hey Anon 3:28 - the only reason you do this is because you think you can get away with it. Brush back the ped and then speed away. Har har! I'm tough.

Got to give a little respect if you expect to get any in return. Fucking coward.

mikeweb said...

Jonah, check that Obama crap at the door. We already get heated up enough in here about helmets, salmoning, red lights, Jobst Brandt etc. Oh, and Jared Leto too. That guy's a doosh...

CommieCanuck said...

Hey Snob, if you want to kill 90 minutes, rent "Carts of Darkness" by the CNFB. It's a documentary about homeless people in Vancouver who race shopping carts down mountain highways at 60 mph after collecting returnable bottles from trash.

CommieCanuck said...

I frequently buzz idiot pedestrians who step off curbs without looking or are in bike lanes. If you slow for them, then they feel secure and get worse and worse habits. I've also been known to buzz jaywalkers with my car.

So, what you're saying is, you're an asshole.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

I see the light.

Vegas said...

Thanks for the survey link, bkjimmy. Hope they're checking IP addresses cuz now they're gonna get hundreds (tens?) of non-NY, bsnyc loving (tolerating?), bicyclists skewing their results.

bikesgonewild said...

...i'd like to apologize to yooz new yawkers...

...i see on the news all these people marching in the streets, rioting, overturning cars, shutting down the airports, setting fires & i'm thinkin' "these nyc folks take this bike lane business way to seriously & not only that but none of 'em can spell for shit !!!"...

...turns out it's the french & you know the french...one good revolution & ever since they figure protesting & burnin' shit is the way to go......

LK said...

That just goes to show you, grandmas and grandchildren are unsafe. And that makes me VERY MAD!

ken (loves tofino) said...

Hi All!

Anonymous said...

That Portland cockpit surely belongs to Cthulhu!

ant1 said...

I am the alarm clock engine - good one.

leroy said...

The Hon. Jonah Gibson
BSNYC comment section
The Interwebs

Dear sir or madam:

We respectfully beg leave to inform your good self that New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law sec. 1236(a) requires that bicycles "shall be equipped with a lamp" when in operation one half hour before sunrise and one half hour after sunset. Ergo the recipients of the NY Department of Transportation's illuminating beneficence were at said point in time in no need whatsoever of government largesse to satisfactorily discharge their statutory obligations.

As regards your further inquiry as to whether you must decamp your present abode for NY in order to faithfully comply with perceived health care insurance obligations, we are of the opinion that you need not.

Moreover, it is our hope that you will not.

Yours faithfully and from a happy distance,

leroy

ant1 said...

bgw - the french feel their are entitled to the same benefits they had when half the world was their colony, and their jobs were actually hard. nowadays their jobs are a joke and the state has no one, other than its citizens, to squeeze for more money. but they don't care, they'll hold the entire country hostage until someone finds a way to meet their demands. beautiful country, just don't live there.

bikesgonewild said...

...ant1...

...besides...you know what they say about french waiters...

wishiwasmerckx said...

Ant1: Nobody left for the French Govt. to squeeze except its own citizenry? How about the ex-patriate community? I hear there are some ex-pats w/some money in the greater Atlanta vicinity.

Anonymous said...

"Hey Anon 3:28 - the only reason you do this is because you think you can get away with it. Brush back the ped and then speed away. Har har! I'm tough.

Got to give a little respect if you expect to get any in return. Fucking coward."

Uh, I actually have pulled over and got into fisticuffs with oblivious pedestrians, and actually have rammed larger people who I figured could take it. Coward? You're the one who lets inconsiderate people push you around. I take a stance and teach painful lessons.

Anonymous said...

BIKESNOB CHECK THIS OUT !!!11:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/cyclist-friend-explains-necessity-of-35-socks,18259/

leroy said...

Anon 7:54 --

Oh, I see. Not a coward. A chowderhead.

Yes, I can see why you would want to clear that up.

Thank you.

Have you considered afternoon naps? They'd make you less grumpy.

Anonymous said...

Nice hipster cyst on the BD..... when will you be converting the BD to a fixie and dropping the disc brakes to make the rest of the bike go with the cyst?

Anonymous said...

Good to see some Australian content again earlier in the week. That is more like what I would expect given the title of your blog: "Bike Snob, Name Your Continent". However, I was disappointed to see that you chose the courting lizard video to illustrate deployment of the AIRHEAD Douche Gene Preservation System. The Australian Frill Neck Lizard is a way more appropriate choice:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utD66Z5Qb74&feature=fvw

If your people are still refusing to send you on an expenses paid BRA down here, let them know that I haven't brought a copy of the book yet and refuse to do so until I see you in person. On an unrelated topic, do you give away any free copies of your book at these BRA's?

One last thing, it's funny that you mentioned the cam net, as I have been considering carrying something similar when touring on the Big Dummy to help hide the bike when I want to go for a walk off the track. It should also be handy for hiding from zombies and terminator robots when the time comes. ce

Spirit of Oktoberfest said...

@ Desert rider

You´ve visited us?

Yep exactly: cars on the street, bikes on the bike lane, and peds on the sidewalk. Anyone not respecting this is getting yelled at, rightly so.

frilly said...

Thank you for the kind offer Comment deleted. Fair warning, you will have your hands full. I am pitifully slow. However, my handling skillz are not THAT bad even though I tri. There was the one day I ran into the back of my riding partner. In my defense, I WAS heavily medicated & more importantly, nobody got hurt, just a little embarrassed.

Chris Baskind said...

I find the nautical motif a little hackneyed when piloting my laden Trek SOHO/Xtracycle Free Radical rig around town. Instead, I've opted for the Trucker Look: A ballcap or cowboy hat, pointy cowboy boots, and a a t-shirt proudly emblazoned with NO GRASS NO ASS NO RIDE. People just instinctively get out of the way.

At some point, I'll find a way to bolt on chromed faux exhaust stacks and a row or two of running lights. Maybe some mirrored mudflaps with a Playboy bunny, too. Utltra swank.

Anonymous said...

http://ffffound.com/image/930fe09cfbb3df254cb934efcd0da6b9da3c23d6

Anonymous said...

I hate to be picky, but I don't think the shopping cart bike qualifies for a "Cockie". It's got five wheels, so isn't it really a "pentacycle" and not a "bicycle"?

g-roc said...

Saw a guy on a shopping cart bike once. I was riding a Brompton - he said "Hey, weird bike!". Marginalized by a shopping cart cyclist. Sigh.

kfg said...

And here I always thought "The Bike Shop" in Saratoga was the first Serotta dealer. Oh well, live and learn.

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Fixie Bikes said...

I love the bike/shopping cart monstrosity