It's no wonder, then, that I can hardly bear to even contemplate--let alone address--the doughy money manager in Colorado who hit a cyclist and fled the scene, but will not be charged with a felony because that would "have some pretty serious job implications" for him:
The cyclist this doughy money manager hit is a surgeon, and I would imagine that being hit by a Mercedes and left to bleed on the side of the road might have pretty serious job implications for him too, but in terms of importance you really can't compare surgery to managing people's fortunes.
Before you rush to judgement though, bear in mind that the doughy money manager did express concern after the accident--for his car:
Erzinger drove all the way through Avon, the town's roundabouts, under I-70 and stopped in the Pizza Hut parking lot where he called the Mercedes auto assistance service to report damage to his vehicle, and asked that his car be towed, records show. He did not ask for law enforcement assistance, according to court records.
Also, the District Attorney who dropped the charges doesn't want to cost the doughy money manager his job because "justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it."
In other words, treating him like the criminal he is might make it slightly more difficult for him to buy his way out of this and any other future vehicular assaults, and that would be downright un-American.
In any case, it's stories like this that make me want to throw up my hands, burn my pants, turn on the TV, and park it right on the sofa with a sauce pan full of Froot Loops and chocolate milk for the duration of the week. It's also why I tend to focus instead on the petty indignities and monumentally inconsequential "injustices" of cycling and human interaction. Consider for example this past Friday, when I was wronged in a ridiculous, trivial, and extremely non-life-threatening way.
As I mentioned, it was a Friday, and after a long and difficult week doing whatever the hell it is that I do, I donned some Lycra cycling clothing, mounted my bicycle, and headed into Brooklyn's Prospect Park to clear the dust from my legs and the metaphysical residue of the week from my head. It was a crisp autumn evening, and as I circled the park with my feeble legs a-pumping and my front and rear lights a-strobing I was gradually overtaken by a feeling of peace and well-being. I was also overtaken by pretty much every other cyclist in the park, as well as by some of the runners getting in their last-minute pre-marathon miles, since I am, to use some obscure cycling jargon, "slow."
A few laps into my ride I noticed that my shadow had an extra head. Sometimes this can be an effect of the streetlights, which shine from both sides of the street and occasionally cast a chromosome-like double helix on the pavement as a result. However, I turned to look behind me, and my brief glance confirmed that this was not a trick of the light and that I had indeed acquired a pair of hangers-on.
For those of you who don Lycra with any regularity, this will go without saying, but if you're blissfully ignorant of the world of cycling in form-fitting clothing I should point out that sitting on the wheels of strangers--especially when they don't know you're there, and especially in the dark--is a very bad thing to do. First of all, it's dangerous for the same reason automotive tailgating is dangerous, especially in a place like Prospect Park where kids are wont to run out in front of you and lightless salmon are wont to charge at you at all hours of the day and night. The last thing I want in the event I'm forced to brake suddenly is for some wheelsucker I didn't even know was there to wind up humping my back like my helper monkey Vito does after he's watched too much "Nat Geo." Second of all, it's just rude--it's like sidling up behind someone at a urinal and putting your hand on his shoulder, or even joining in uninvited and "crossing the streams." Third, what if the person you're following is afflicted by severe flatulence? You might very well be asphyxiated.
Nevertheless, there are some people who think that, no matter what the circumstances, Lycra clothing and a racing bike mean "it's on." It's the "she was asking for it" mentality of the cycling world.
But it wasn't "on;" in fact, it was very much "off." So I swung off and waved the mysterious riders through, at which point they revealed themselves to be a pair of "hipster" types on "fixie"-type bicycles. I said something along the lines of, "You shouldn't sit on wheels like that" (in the same way you might say to the guy at the urinal, "Hey, you mind backing up a little bit?"), and then moved to the opposite side of the road to further underscore my "it's so very not on" point and allow them to continue on their way. (Fortunately for them, I did not have any flatulence to spare at that moment.) Apparently, though, I hadn't done enough.
"Whatever," replied the first rider, and after I moved over to the other side of the road they latched on to me again. At this point I felt very much like a woman being followed into the ladies' room of a bar by a pair of "frat boys," so I reiterated my request and by way of explanation offered a more succinct version of the above.
By now you'd think that they'd either respect my wishes, or else dismiss me as an old "roadie" fusspot (even though I was riding a so-called "cyclo-cross" bike), but in either case leave me alone. Instead, the de-facto leader of the pair said this:
"C'mon, don't we do this for the danger? Where's the flint in your veins? Don't be such a pussy."
He said this just sarcastically enough for it to be ironic, in the well-practiced manner of someone accustomed to getting his way and with a lifetime's experience in telling his parents off while remaining utterly confident that they will continue to praise him for his mediocrity and keep writing those tuition checks to Bard. It made me extremely angry--not so much because he had called me a "pussy," but more because he had found one of the few people in Brooklyn who would not push him off his bike and break his teeth for doing so. Instead, his childhood had once again received a stay of execution and the bubble in which he lived would remain intact for yet another day.
So I praised his delivery of the line and asked him to repeat it again while I took a picture, but unfortunately I only had a cellphone and it's almost impossible to get a decent shot out of it in the dark:
I didn't bother taking a picture of his friend, who just rode behind him and silently conformed.
Anyway, the Freddy Krueger sweater hipster's explanation for his wheelsucking and subsequent name-calling was to indict me for being a bad cyclist. "Shouldn't you have some responsibility for what's going on around you?," he asked. In other words, if he and his friend want to play "peloton" by riding behind me in the dark, then it's my responsibility to know they're there, accept it, and ride accordingly. Evidently, that's my job as a cyclist.
This irritated me even more than the "pussy" thing. It's like two people having a water balloon fight on the subway and telling you it's your fault you got wet because you didn't duck. Still, while I was irritated I can't say I was surprised. This is what's come of all these fixed-gear blogs and videos and all their nonsense talk of the "zen" state of heightened awareness and how brakeless riding makes you think "five moves ahead." It's the same attitude that informs the following comment that was left on my blog last month:
Okay so I'm new to NYC, from Seattle - and I'm no dumb kid. Only been here for a few weeks, and I love the free-for-all style out here. Doesn't matter if it's cars, pedestrians, or other bikers - you know everybody is going to behave as selfishly as possible. Where I'm from, the cars yield you (the biker) the right of way when it's NOT YOUR TURN TO GO. So you sit there and wait for them, while they are trying to show how polite they are. It's not polite when you inconvenience everybody by holding up the proper flow of traffic. Believe me, it's hectic here, but that's not a bad thing.
I ride pretty aggressive in traffic. I lanesplit, I overtake cars on the left or right or whatever. I - what is it called where you creep thru the crosswalk (not blocking it, okay) at the light to cut the intersection as soon as you can - Shoaling? Yeah I do that too. But you know what else? I don't endanger or inconvenience anybody else with my riding because I have enough skill on my bike and I keep my eyes open. I don't cut people off and I don't hit pedestrians.
I don't take risks that legs cant get me out of, I have a brake on my fixie, I have front and rear lights on my bike at night. I don't worry about getting doored because I am aware of the danger and I don't get close enough to cars that might fling a door open at me. When I'm heading into a narrow street with pedestrians I slow down a bit and keep my eyes on everyone at the margins, the cars on either side of me, and the driver seats of the parked cars. I've never been hit, I've ridden this hard for years.
What ever happened to personal responsibility? I will never claim that I "almost got killed by a driver" because I assume that the driver in the car to my left might swerve at me unexpectedly. When they do, I see it coming and I swerve. I never claim I "almost got killed" by that car backing down the street because I know that certain types of people are willing to do that when they pass a parking spot half a block behind them. I never claim I "almost got killed when an unexpected pedestrian stepped into the bike lane." When a pedestrian steps off the sidewalk, I knew he was a danger because I saw him NEAR the street without paying attention to the bike lane and I paid extra attention to him. Other people's actions are never unexpected if you expect them to behave erratically. Give yourself room to maneuver around them - anything that happens to your while you're on your bike is YOUR FAULT.
I thought people identified a certain toughness and independent spirit with being a biker. When people whine about how hard it is to do something optional I want to tell them to keep their complaints to themselves and just not do it.
sorry I don't have an account
My name is Ryan
In fact, in retrospect I wonder if my provocative friend in the red sweater may have been the masterful bike ninja Ryan himself.
In the end, I realized arguing further would only reaffirm their stereotypes about "roadie fusspots" who are too "stuck up" to tow complete strangers around the park, despite the fact that I spend a significant amount of time riding around the city in jeans and on a "fixie," to which my douche-tacular Observer photo attests. (Plus, I was getting winded due to my aforementioned feebleness.) Instead, I simply told them I was pleased to see they were riding bicycles, told them to be safe, and assured them that in 10 years they'll know what I'm talking about. (Which of course they won't, since they will almost certainly have moved away or else given up cycling by then.) More than anything though, the encounter made me miss the days before New York City got itself a "bike culture" and instead just had a whole bunch of people riding bikes without being so aggressively stupid about it.
He was right about one thing, though--I am a total "pussy."