Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Indignity of Smugging by Bicycle: Other Cyclists

As I mentioned on Monday, this past weekend I undertook an "epic" Raphian ride on my roadening bicycle. As much as I enjoy unleashing my inner Fred from time to time by embarking on quasi-competitive bicycle cycling rides, I also enjoy few things more than a completely non-"epic," non-competitive, non-commuting, non-errand-running perambulation. Between the lovely weather and the soreness still inhabiting my legular region, yesterday afternoon practically pleaded for such a ride, and so I resolved to treat myself to one.

First, though I had to clear my desk of work, which is an extremely difficult thing to do because, as a semi-professional bicycle blogger, I don't actually have any work to do. As Hemingway famously never said, "Writing isn't work, unless you do it with a pickaxe in a coal mine 12 hours a day." So instead, I simply cleared my desk of half-eaten bowls of Cap'n Crunch.

Next, I had to settle on a destination, and after some meditation I decided that I'd take my child to Prospect Park. Now, I have 17 children, so this isn't as easy as it sounds, but fortunately I have only one good child. The rest of them are vicious little brats, and so it was easy to leave them with their cruel Dickensian nanny with the giant Lemmy-esque warts (she also has a giant Lemmy-esque mustache) who makes them mine coal for 12 hours a day instead of letting them finger paint.

Finally, I prepped my Smugness Flotilla (which complete with it's PeaPod LT child-portaging seat now has the dimensions and curb weight of a Dodge Caravan) and headed out into Brooklyn's evolving yet controversial bicycle lane network.

Some cyclists don't like bike lanes, since they resent being corralled into two-wheeled ghettos where "the man" can neuter and control them, preferring instead to ride amongst the motor vehicles, wild and free. On a certain level I can relate to this, but when one is traveling in flagrante smugalicto as I was, one craves nothing more than riding in a space of one's own. Unfortunately, that space is all too often occupied by intruders, such as idling cars--or, in this case, people cleaning cooking grills:

On one hand I was annoyed, but on the other I was impressed that he was managing to both block a bike lane and dump chemicals into a storm drain at the same time. I also "Tweeted" this photograph shortly after taking it, which prompted the following reply:

So who's the idiot who painted a bike lane over a storm drain?

All I can say is, this is New York City, and I've seen them paint bike lanes over rats, horse manure, and even actual living people. Sometimes the "guy on a bike" symbol is actually a guy on a bike. It saves the DOT money on stencils.

Anyway, despite the ongoing grill maintenance I eventually made it to the park, where I did the usual stuff you do with a small child in a park: terrorize the playground; make fun of the geese; spend 14 hours running a metal detector along the bridle path in hopes that some equestrian's gold teeth rattled out of his head. Finally, though, it was time to leave, since a certain somebody started crying. It turns out geese can be nasty when provoked, and it really didn't need to say that about my haircut.

Now, you might think that leaving Prospect Park on an early evening in late May would be as easy as, well, a walk in the park, but if you do then you haven't been to Brooklyn. In its wisdom, the city opens Prospect Park to motor vehicle traffic just in time for rush hour. This means the park road becomes the Belt Parkway at exactly 5:00pm. Moreover, those first drivers to enter the park don't give park users so much as a minute to acclimate themselves; instead, if you're unlucky enough to find yourself anywhere near the park road either on foot or on a bicycle when the clock strikes five they will lay on their horns and tell you to go fuck yourself. It's an abrupt and infuriating transition, and the park suddenly goes from pastoral to pernicious.

Furthermore, in addition to the cars, the park road also becomes full of legions of Freds and Wilmas who, after a long day at the law firm or investment bank, are itching for their post-work training session so they can prepare for some triathlon or the New York City Century.

Anyway, to leave the park I would have to cross the park road. On the surface of it this should be easy, since there are traffic lights and crosswalks. However, in practice it proved much more difficult, since while the cars would stop at the red the legions of Freds and Wilmas all barreled right on through. I stood there with a couple of the other mommies for two light cycles until finally the light changed in our favor once again, the white hand beckoned, and there amazingly appeared to be a window for us to cross.

Walking my Big Dummy with the good child comfy in his seat and laughing at my haircut, I stepped out into the crosswalk, at which point a woman who looked like she was probably the most annoying person on the board at the Park Slope Food Co-Op pointed her road bike directly at us as though on purpose. At the last second she had the decency to change her path, and as she passed she issued a very Park Slopey "Ugh" and then said to me:

"You should know better."

She then continued through the red light.

At first I was amazed. I should know better? What did that mean? I looked at the traffic light above me: still red. I looked at the hand in front of me: still white. Suddenly though it dawned on me what she was implying: I had a bike, which meant I was a cyclist. And as a cyclist I should have known that nobody on a bike would stop for me, even with a child.

This made me feel depressed, and my depression was amplified when one of the other mommies said to me resignedly, "They never stop."


I still don't agree with any of it, but this stupid woman was doing her best to justify all of it. Thanks to her, "They never stop" is what people think of all of us--even when we're lying in the street because some driver blew a light. It was all her fault.

Only after I was some distance from the park did I realize I should have waited for her in order to immortalize her sour visage in pixels, but by then it was too late, and to actually return to the park and lie in wait for her arguably would have involved crossing the rubicon between "smug mommydaddy" and "psychopath."

Shortly thereafter, I locked my smugness flotilla in front of a dining establishment, and when I emerged it had made an equally giant friend:

I'm surprised the sidewalk didn't collapse under all that smugness.

Speaking of smugness, a reader has forwarded me a blog post about David Byrne, and he points out that, instead of using the actual Momentum cover on which he appeared, they use my subtly modified version:

They should know better.

80 comments:

dcdouglas said...

podium!

ken e. said...

poduim!

ken e. said...

speling waits for no one

Patrick said...

Top ten!

Buffalo Bill said...

I wasn't even racing!

Anonymous said...

PODIODIE!

The One and Only said...

Top 10?

Amy said...

o my

Anonymous said...

Top friggin Fred ten!

Anonymous said...

top 10 again.

I'm coming for ya.

cycle

ce said...

Snob has a new camera with more pixels than a chess board! Wow!

Anonymous said...

Damn. Reading cost me a top ten.

J Scott maimed by a lion. said...

Irish she would be!

Anonymous said...

Does you ever lock your QR-skewered front wheel, or have bicycle thieves all been ran out of town by the Freds and Wilmas?

i am being eaten by sharks said...

hate, hate, hate the idiots who bomb prospect park like they're chasing down petacchi in the middle of the day, refusing to stop for anyone. they especially like to CRANK UP THE WATTAGE as they approach the 9th street playground. they're tools, TOOLS i tell you.

if you want to practice your leadouts, or hit your VO2 max for 10 minutes, do it in the morning or after 7 pm like a real man, you jive turkeys.

ce said...

...or, perhaps spring has brought bit more sunlight to speed up the auto shutter. Or, maybe just holding the camera still?

Anonymous said...

top half

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 12:17pm,

Usually, yes. Sometimes, no.

--BSNYC

Charlie Didrickson said...

I would have won if that douche on the cargo bike didn't get in my way and make me stop.

hillbilly said...

yup. the park wannabes are the worst

apophasis said...

I'm guessing from the helmet left on the bars and the bags that the bike was probably in view from inside the establishment.

Anonymous said...

i think what the obnoxious rider was really referring to was that you should have known better than to get a pageboy cut at your age

Neil said...

That bike lane needs some of these ....then the freds and wilmas could be disqualified for going through the level crossing when the barriers are down.

OBA said...

Schwalbe should just change its name to Smug at this point.

Kenny Banya said...

Can I take my quiz a day early? Weekend starts tomorrow for Kenny.

grog said...

Byrne and Babe.
I'm confused.

xyxax said...

I have increasingly enjoyed stopping at the lights in PP for all the brake squealing it causes.

Mmmm...burgers at The Farm.

David said...

I don't understand some of the comments. I'm mainly thinking about the woman who cut you off at a red light.

If I get this straight she ran a red and nearly ran over you with your kid.

So basically if you had been me (psychopath with kid) and she had barrel-ed into my no fly zone and I had put a stake through her front wheel, I may have gotten off. Ps. I'm not from NYC so I don't know how psychopaths do things "In the City"

I only act in violence when i can legally get away with it. Next time I hope you push her.

Oh yeah it was the name calling that set me off.

sherpa said...

OK, I hate to admit it, but i seriously want that yellow bike.

Anonymous said...

the yellow bike...is that a book light?

Marcel Da Chump said...

A couple of days ago as I walking across 6th ave by Radio City Music Hall I saw my oldest bike messenger buddy waiting for the light to change. I said to him, "people respect you when you wait for the light". And he said, "yeah, but I don't do it all the time". At least it's better than never. But in a perfect world...

Bad Lawyer said...

Never got the child on the back of a bike thing, it always seemed inherently dangerous to me.

Chazu said...

I stopped for lights all the time in our Nation's Crapitol. One time, a small group of tourists on the sidewalk stopped what they were doing to point and laugh at me.

I was wearing baggy shorts so it couldn't have been that.

Johann Rissik said...

Please post a NSFW warning next time you sneakily send us to the Pubic Bikes page.

mikeweb said...

Snob, I'm surprised at you. How could have disrupted this woman's fantasy lead-out train. You're just lucky that imaginary Mark Renshaw didn't head butt you.

Echo & The Bunnymen said...

na-na-na-never stop

Ed said...

commenter ce beat me to it snobby - you've either got a new camera or your photography skillz are improving. Also - respect for not cursing that bitch out in front of your kid and everybody.

Chafed said...

I'm accustomed to car drivers being the suck. I somehow have the expectation of bicyclists being less suck (why??? I don't know) but the most frequent most rude comments have always come to me from other bicyclists. I never earned lame-ass worthless "suggestions" until I started bicycling with my kids.

Etherhuffer said...

Yesterday's segue to the fellow popped by the car led me to find that in my dear home town, riding in the sidewalk and crosswalk are legal. Maybe not too smart, but legal.

Your post today on getting the what-for in the crosswalk just tells me that when bikes finally rule the world, road bikers in full kit will become the new "car drivers" of the bike world. T-boning retro-grouches will be the new norm/sport.

Retro-Grouche said...

Bone me.

Anonymous said...

Snobby, you're too nice to live in NYC. I ALWAYS have "Be a cyclist and ...." comment ready for any cyclist that passes me and says squat. Seems like 99% of the cyclists here in Dallas are Sidewalk Bike Ninjas. "Be a cyclist and ride with a light!" is always on my lips ready to go. Of course I usually hold it back, but cut me off at the sidewalk/street crossing, and I'll let you have it. Sounds like Prospect Park Alley Cat Chic needs a, "Be a cyclist, STOP on the RED!"

Chafed said...

Bicycling in cross-walks sucks ass for reasons you've already figured out - bad line up to the roads, having to get off the bike, lazy pedestrians. The look of quiet exasperation on the cop's face when he harassed me (you people are so dangerous and that makes me sad) made me want to yank his zipper down, pull his dick out and zip him back up.

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

I am an indentured engine said...

Coal Mining in NYC?
I do not think so.

You just dont want to give the location where they work with other children in the garment district.

Snobby is not going to get fater of the year award.

Stupid Name said...

I have also noticed that some of the vilest comments come from other cyclists. Some Tri-dork in full aerobar configuration and complete Team Radioshack Kit gives me the finger and piece of his mind after cutting off me and 5 cars. One of the few times I wish a car had actually hit another bicyclists.

Is that wrong?

Marcel Da Chump said...

Pater of the year.

Etherhuffer said...

@stupid name. Yes, wrong. But oh so satisfying.

yogisurf said...

Damn, it all made sense to me too...suddenly. Byrne's comment re 'no investment' is true...that's why public housing does not work.

LK said...

Snob

You're a funny daddy, maybe you could start a new blog for daddies like the drunk mommy blog. You could call BikerDaddyNYC.

crosspalms said...

Sounds like the Prospect Park woman has had her brain sucked out by Martin Erzinger. Or maybe it's new-Lycra smell, which apparently causes red-green color blindness and aggressive behavior. Sad.

Chafed said...

@Stupid Name
It's only wrong if you go through with it. In my active fan-tasty life I chase down the offending bicyclist, lean over, pull them off their bicycle, take *their* bicycle and gracefully toss it under a passing car. Then I ride away.

Anonymous said...

Is this the birth of the Wilma name?

Marcel Da Chump said...

I submit "Joe Rockhead" as the fixie rider appellation.

leroy said...

I'm feel a song coming on:

"We are vain and we are blind.

I hate people when they're not polite.

Cycle killer, WTF"

On second thought, maybe not. Never mind.

Mr. Michelin said...

Boy, with those double chevrons, that is some scary elevation change going on in the bike path.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Twistyface said...

Bit one-sided today... Maybe you could show a little support for your Zipp-enabled bretheren?

How great would it would be if you and MiniSnob went back to the same crossing tomorrow, and instead of being a jerk, you wore matching pink bodysuits, horns, waved matching pitchforks and spray cats pee from an Assos bottle over their helmets to help them beat the heat?

Twistyface said...

Sorry - meant to say 'helments'.

Feel a bit silly now.

James said...

Is that a front stoker/rear captain tandem?

Flash said...

It appears Snob uses a Walmart type helmet to negate excessive smugness.

Anonymous said...

Haha, you know cycling has arrived when other cyclists are as annoying as oblivious pedestrians and motorists. I do laps in the Park, too (the real one in Manhattan), but I do them early early or after 7pm. And, while I don't stop at red lights IF there's no one waiting OR they are obviously just letting me through, I do yield to pedal already in the crosswalk or starting across.

Every once in a while, I do the good PR thing and just stop, while a pace line just cruises by me at full speed. Basically, I always try to use caution...although someone will still tell you to "slow down", especially when you're already riding your brakes and getting passes by roller bladers.

If you want to "train" (haha, what am I training for), you either have to get up early or bring lights and eat a late dinner.

ce said...

OBA 12:51, Ha ha, are you sure Schwalbe isn't German for smug? What do you think about going one step further and changing the English "smug" to "schwalbe". As in: "David Byrne is so schwalbe about not owning ein auto"

Anonymous said...

I believe 'schwalbe' is German for 'swallow'. Like the birdy.

Rob Rose said...

Maybe we should start a new Critical Mass. Get a bunch of volunteers to wait at busy crosswalks in Prospect and Central Parks. When the light changes and the pedestrians have the walk sign. The bikers cross the crosswalk and use their bikes to block cross passage and allow pedestrians to cross the street safely and legally. Would make friends with pedestrians and teach bikers a bit of a lesson. Then, maybe, I would not get hit from behind by a biker as I wait for pedestrians to clear the intersection...

I'm on a road to nowhere said...

Leroy, "I hate people when they're not polite" has to be the best song lyric EVER. Glad to see it make an appearance here.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about inconsiderate bikers. I was in riding in the park and some asshole with a 25 foot long bike bike, a baby and weird haircut totally walked right in front of me. stupid prick.

Velo Shitstorm said...

I never can get through a full bowl of Cap'n Crunch either.

An Angel said...

"heaven, heaven is a place,
a place where nothing,
nothing ever happens"
It's true.

David Byrne's libido said...

I will
find a city
find a sexy city
to live in

Anonymous said...

Sorry, this isn't a funny comment, apart from one pernicious dig at your use of avoisdupois...

But anyway, looking at the picture of your long bike, isn't it maybe a bit longer than it needs to be?

There seems to be almost 30 cm (that's a 'foot' in americanish) between the saddle and where the baggage bit actually starts.

Isn't this just wasted length? Wouldn't tbe bike be just as useful but more practical if this was just somehow removed.

Btw, I do like the bike, but I would probably get stabbed on the first day of riding one in east london.

Smoky the bear said...

I'm rather impressed by your avoirdupois and its urban eco-friendliness mode of transport.

Anonymous said...

Panties!

westcoast fred said...

Of course you have disc breaks. How else do stop all that smugness?

Heavy Lee said...

ALL YOU HATERS CARRY MY AVOIRDUPOIS

borker said...

Agreed. I watched a clown on a bullhorned 10 spd almost gore 5 different pedestrians at the Grand/Essex light, a helmentless beautiful godzilla cut off two different drivers as she fredded across Tillary, and a delivery salmon swoop around a blind corner on Willoughby.

Only driver I saw do anything stupid was the cab who almost cut me off on the Prince St. lane, but that area's a clusterfuck anyway so came with the territory.

Yesterday: drivers -1, cycleasts -8

Anonymous said...

I always wondered why pedestrians gasp when I stop and let them walk through the crosswalk. Now I realize.

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Here what i found -> vision correction

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Anonymous said...

Man that street is gross.

Fixie Bikes said...

That's the nastiest street ive seen in brooklyn for a while.