Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jerkier Than Thou: PSAs and Holy Wars

Yesterday was a terrible day in the sport of cycling, and having acknowledged that here I'll continue to keep most of my Giro d'Italia-related commentary to my Bicycling.com blog, which obviously got a whole lot less funny yesterday. Sometimes in life, we need to compartmentalize, and I figure today it's probably for the best to keep this blog as the compartment in which you're likely to find something ridiculous--like a pair of titanium frame-mounted salad tongs, or maybe even a lobster-themed "bake feets." I only hope that you will not fault me for this impulse--at least not any more than usual.

In any case, while sometimes keeping things ridiculous can be difficult, fortunately I've received help from no less an entity than the City of New York. As you may know, it's now "Bike Month," and determined to heap indignity after indignity upon us during what is laughably supposed to be "our time" the New York City Department of Transportation has finally "dropped" the "Don't Be a Jerk" cycling PSA campaign I mentioned not too long ago. Here's the pitch, straight from the DOT:

DOT’s "Don’t Be A Jerk" bike safety campaign humorously highlights the essential dos and don’ts of safe, responsible biking. According to DOT’s 2010 Sustainable Streets Index, commuter cycling increased 262% in New York City from 2000 to 2010. With more bikes on the road, smart cycling is even more crucial to making New York City’s streets safer for everyone using them.

They've also produced a host of high-larious YouTubing videos, including this one starring celebrity eating person Mario Batali:



Also, they're giving out bells.

Anyway, just in case you're keeping score, here's the state of play as it stands at the moment:

--The NYPD is actively cracking down on cyclists for fictional infractions such as failing to wear a "helment" and improper PBS tote bag "portage;"


--Now, they've convinced some schmuck to take a break from driving and eating his way across Spain with Gwyneth Paltrow in order to ridicule us in a condescending PSA:



"I luuuhve macaroni and cheese."

Good for you, Gwyneth.

Incidentally, "Spain-On The Road Again" is the "Triple Rush" of rich-douchebags-eating-their-way-across-a-European-country shows.

Anyway, sure, the PSAs are mildly entertaining, but I still object to the timing. If they really wanted comedy, they should have made a PSA in which three bike messengers actually stop for an old lady:

In New York City you're more likely to see a couple of giant pandas humping in Times Square than you are a bike messenger stopping for pretty much anything. As for three messengers, you're more likely to see a giant panda give birth to quintuplets in the cheese section of Mario Batali's Eataly.

Meanwhile, speaking of cycling in New York City, as a non-resident of Williamsburg I'd just assumed that the whole "Hipster vs. Hasidim" war had gone out of style like fanny packs, but apparently it's not only back but hotter than ever, like designer cycling fanny packs. Via the Twitter, I recently learned that the conflict has now escalated, and the Hasidim are now even using their buses as weapons:

At least from a cycling perspective, I decided long ago that this city is hopeless, and ever since then I've been attempting to "curate" an escape plan. To date I've been unsuccessful, so my next move will probably be to launch a Kickstarter campaign:

It's like "Panhandling 2.0." Granted, my $250,000 goal is fairly high, and even if were to attain it I still wouldn't be close to being able to live in Mill Valley, but if all else fails I hear you only need $76 and a beard in order to move to Portland, OR. (Portland: America's "safety city.")

Meanwhile, as Hasidim in Brooklyn are attacking Hipsters with their buses, in Australia--that wild, topsy-turvy land where winter is summer, rats are 'roos, and toilets flush backwards (when you flush a toilet in Australia your waste actually comes back up), one reader tells me that cyclists are stabbing dogs (not to mention their owners):

(Nonplussed owner explains a cyclist stabbed his dog in the "heeed," which is Australian for "head.")

Obviously this is disturbing, and clearly the Land Frumunda would benefit from a flippant "Don't Be a Jerk Campaign" just like we have--because only jerks stab dogs. Here's a description of the perpetrator:

Police are looking for a Caucasian man aged between 50 and 60 with woolly grey hair and a bushy grey beard. He was last seen wearing a red, white and black flannelette shirt with black trackpants and white sneakers. He was also wearing a red and white bicycle helmet.

Fortunately, a bystander was also able to snap a photo:

It's also worth noting that, according to the description, the perpetrator was in compliance with Australia's mandatory helmet law. This is more proof that helmet laws don't work, since obviously helmets don't keep cyclists from stabbing dogs.

I can't help wondering if cyclist/non-cyclist relations will improve once we've chosen a new International Symbol For Cycling, as I hope do to with my latest contest:


Entries continue to come in, and the variety of ways in which people interpret the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork is fascinating. Take this Rorschach-like example:




Or this surrealistic p-far "endo" from the presumably well-caffeinated person who placed third in the "Cockie" contest:





Or this re-working of the "Ironman" logo, complete with "flavor-saver" and profoundly phallic aerobars:



Others aren't quite symbols, but they do stand on their own as works of art:



While still others are noteworthy for the appeals that accompany them. Take this one, for example:
As the contestant explains:

I think this symbol is great because it simultaneously captures the
essence of tri-dork Fred and the need for Action Wipes.

Yes. Yes it does.

Lastly, speaking of Freds, St. Paul, MN must be nothing short of a paradise for Freds, for a reader there informs me they even have their own brand of water:

Just like actual cycling Freds, it actually freezes at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

74 comments:

Jasper said...

Early doors

dcdouglas said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

::Breakdances::

mikeweb said...

We all know when on the bicycle, that the line between safety and mortal danger can be crossed very easily in a split second. That line also moves, many times before we even realize it. As I rode home from work yesterday, with that day’s tragic events weighing on my mind, I was reminded yet again about this fact.

My trip home is from Midtown Manhattan to Brooklyn (via Manhattan bridge). As I rode through a yellow light on a bike lane on 2nd avenue southbound to wait for the red light at Houston St. I heard someone yelling “cyclist! biker!” over my left shoulder. That person was a passenger in a 3 ton SUV yelling at the driver to not run me over. I realized this as I looked left to see said SUV rapidly turning into my path of travel. If not for that passenger, I might have wound up underneath the vehicle’s right rear tire.

I had a flash of anger, but then just felt relief. This kind of thing has been happening too often for my liking, but I still ride. I didn’t yell at anyone but simply shook my head as I rode around the SUV to get back into the bike lane. Afterward I realized that if I went through the yellow light, then this driver must have gone through the light when it turned red, then turned hard right to get into the right turn lane for Houston St.

As we all know, New York has been having a ‘crackdown’ on cyclists ‘running’ red lights. The fact remains thought that cyclists aren’t killed when they go through a red light, especially when looking carefully first, they’re killed when vehicles go through red lights, or speed, or turn without signaling or open a door into traffic without looking first. Sadly, most of the time, they’re not held responsible either.

Be safe everyone.

Eric Mellow said...

Top 10 for the first time! This is going to be a breakthrough year for me, I can feel it.

Dave said...

You know, maybe its naked Eileen Brennan cycling through Wiliamsburg that has the Hasidim on the attack. She really should cover up.

Anonymous said...

Tits!

Anonymous said...

Top 10...at last! I shall stand by my tweeter for further updates should any become available.....

Twistyface said...

Early post! Still cant get a podium place tho...

Anonymous said...

The Giro coverage/fatherhood thing is really messing with the loose posting schedule I've become accustomed to.

Anonymous said...

My lead out man sucks.

ringcycles said...

Is it just me, or is Mario Batali starting to look like Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies?

I can hear him saying "Oh, Gwynth, you should be in my belly!"

Marcel Da Chump said...

'rich douchebags-eating-their-way-across- a european country' -- sublime humor.

Anonymous said...

@mikeweb

Sorry to hear about the close call.
I live in a small town south of Portlandia
and I have so many close calls with
the local student population that I've
just come to accept that I will be hit
at some point. Nobody 'just' drives
anymore - most are phoning, texting,
reading,...

Loren said...

For some reason I can't gain traction for a "Don't be a fuck stick" campaign for pretty much everyone.

J Scott, Eat Me. said...

As the name reads.

Anne Marie said...

Snobby, I'm chuffed. Thanks for posting the Fred water photo. Here in Fred Paradise, we are well hydrated and aptly branded.

grog said...

Three babes and a santa!
I'm in Rip Torn heaven.
TOPP 20TY

Recumbabe 2011 said...

M. Batali gives new meaning to the term "bike weenie".

RB1 said...

you saw those pandas, too ?

Twistyface said...

Giro stage today was one of the most respectful and stylish things I have seen in the world of sport. Wish we hadn't had to see it though.

mikeweb said...

BTW, I got the top step of the podium of that Hasidim cyclist ramming article.

JP said...

There is nothing at all controversial about this PSA campaign in my view. You seem to be arguing that it's unfair to ask cyclists to obey the law as long as cyclists are prone to getting hit by careless and reckless drivers, but that is such an absurd argument it makes me want to vomit with rage. So what if drivers suck? Deal with it. They suck just as much when you're driving in your car as they do when you're riding on your bike. So maybe drivers have some animosity towards cyclists and treat them like dirt.. don't you think that maybe that's due--at least in part--to the fact that on an average day I witness 18 people running red lights, 5 "salmon", and 10 people illegally riding their bike on the sidewalk. That's all in about 30 minutes of riding on city streets. (that's right, I'm such a nerd that I've started keeping a spreadsheet of how many people I see breaking the law during my daily commute)

crosspalms said...

JP,
I see that kind of behavior too, as well as people like me who obey signals and signs (and stop for old ladies -- who doesn't love pandas?) but I see more drivers and pedestrians doing careless stuff. Where are the "don't be a jerk" PSAs for people who need remedial driving and/or walking lessons? We all share the roads, so either lecture everybody or lecture nobody. How does singling out cyclists help?

mikeweb said...

In an average day of my street riding (a little over an hour) I see a dozen people blow through red lights too. Problem is, they're driving cars and in the past couple of weeks 3 of them have almost run me over.

Anonymous said...

JP: no one here as stated that cyclists are above the law, or perfect in their riding habits, but the "Don't be a Jerk" PSA is like an anti-domestic violence effort focussed on "if she could just shut her mouth for once"

3G said...

Heed pants now!

Anonymous Coward said...

@3g it's like an orange on a toothpick

Marcel Da Chump said...

'vomit with rage': the most cathartic of all regurgitations.
My beef with that PSA is that cyclist are singled-out as the bad guys.' We are all in this together' would have worked for me.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Oh well at least thanks for a healthy dose of recumbabe today Snob.

Paul Bowen said...

Gwyneth Paltrow hasn't eaten anything but tissue paper since 1997.

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Paul Bowen said...

JP: others have said it all (props espesh to anon @ 12:45). Just please think before you hit publish next time.

Etherhuffer said...

Fact remains, regardless of what one feels about cars and bikes, cars still weigh 3000 pounds, bikes about 20 or so.

We are not at all Dutch in this country. Making way for each other in a civic way is not us. I wish it were. I still live with what I grew up with in the ancient days: Cars can kill you, you can't kill cars with your bike. They win every time.

The idea that cyclists who salmon and run lights are jerks is only one side. The other is that its dangerous at best, suicidal at worst. What was that PSA from the ancient 70's? "Don't be dead right"
It still applies.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:45 excellent analogy.

JP, if reading this blog makes you want to "vomit with rage" you may have some larger issues that you may want to address.

Anonymous said...

JP - Don't be a jerk.

Tandem Unicycle said...

meh

Anonymous said...

Have y'all seen the photo?
That Aussie bulldog is a nasty, vicious beast, as can be attested by its head being all covered in blood.
It's coming right for us, Fred!

rural 14 said...

ant 2nd!

Mikeweb, though I am a rural mouse (or I guess, secondary ant) I come w my Fredtastic orange folder into NYC on a regular basis; the drivers there are just like the drivers here (though there are more of them in NYC). Is it Fred-like to stop at a yellow light (as I do, even on shop rides?)...is it Fred-like to assume you're invisible, and to peer into every f!cking car to see if the driver is on the phone? (they are)..perhaps. But worth it.

Hard to keep one's equanimity, esp when one is a smug self-righteous bicycle cycler (me that is)...but in the long run it feels much better.

Certainly the PSA campaign could have been a lot better. How about some of youse New Yorkers approach the Transit Authority with better PSA suggestions - and/or RTMS- be servicey and run another contest, ie for the better PSA. Because they're designing it from the outside in; your readers are on the inside and therefore better equipped to make a clear point.

And hey, nice interview with Grant Peterson! His best side comes out in interviews (and his less than best in defensive spots).

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

The link to Giro blog in first paragraph doesn't take you there. Bicycling.com paywall or what? Also, where's the G. Petersen interview just mentioned? Another stimulating entry.

John said...

Sadly, I can no longer risk following your blog at work. Yes, I should find another employer who wouldn't have a problem with nekkid wimmen displayed on my monitor, but that would probably mean finding employment outside the US.

crosspalms said...

Went for a short walk to pick up lunch and

--was almost clipped by an old lady who was riding her bike on a busy downtown sidewalk. The pandas never saw THAT one coming.

--waited for a light and watched a guy cross against it as a cement mixer bore down on him. He ran the rest of the way. No disaster, but to save 2 seconds? Dumb.

Rural14, I don't know if it's Fredly to stop at a yellow, but I do it lots of times. I just want to get home alive.

bikesgonewild said...

...mikeweb...glad you made it safe & sound...

...i think as cyclists, that even the boldest (idiotic ???) amongst us are aware of the safety vs danger aspects of our activity whereas the typical driver is clue nada when it comes to realizing just how close they can be to taking a life, at any given time whilst driving...

Anonymous said...

Stage 4 passed through our town today. A couple of weeks ago when we saw they re-routed the course because of a road closure, we were ecstatic as the new route passed within 50 m of our apartment. After all, cycling was one of the reasons we decided to move to Italy for a few years. Yesterday, as I rode home from work along the route, I was scouting which signs I was going to pilfer as souvenirs. However, when I got home, our excitement turned to sadness. Yes, we were confused, and selfishly disappointed, but mostly sad for Wouter and his friends and family. Still, we wanted to see the Giro. So, my wife and I and my 3 y.o. daughter walked to Piazza San Giorgio and waited. First the caravan came through and they showered hats and flags and whatnot on our daughter. Then we waited some more. Finally the peloton arrived and you heard nothing but loud, enthusiastic, and decidedly respectful clapping. It was a scene of pure admiration. It was wonderful. After they passed, I went home and turned on RAI and Eurosport and watched the finish in Livorno. As one of the previous posters said, it was a thing of beauty. What a difficult day for the riders. What a classy bunch.

bikesgonewild said...

...i might defer to mario batali when it comes to 'flavor' but certainly not when it comes to 'good taste'...

...or obviously health, for that matter...

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 3:38pm...i find even now, a day later that when i read articles or poignant comments like yours, that my emotions still well up...

...thanks for your words...

Doug said...

What BGW said.

Anonymous said...

what bgw and doug said...

Marcel Da Chump said...

mikeweb,
I lived in that area for several years (Mott & Houston) and I often heard the sounds of cars crashing. Because Houston gets traffic from the FDR drive and the West side hwy, drivers are prone to be distracted, lost and basically at their worst. I don't have to tell you to be careful. But it might be therapeutic to vomit with rage.

Anonymous said...

ANGR YJEW

Anonymous said...

ANGR YJEW

Fred of all Freds said...

Minneapolis more hipster than Williamsburg!? I blame bicycling magazine...

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrismenning/the-most-hipster-state-in-the-us

OBA said...

Riding in to work this morning and wary of the NYPD's ticket blitz on cyclists in Manhattan, I stopped at a red light only to see the car next to me blow through it. I thought, "Where are the cops when something like this happens?" and of course, they were next to me -- right behind the car that blew the light -- and did nothing.

mikeweb said...

@rural14, bgw & marcel,

Thanks for your comments. I might add that it's additionally unnerving to have to deal with irresponsible drivers daily while at the same time feeling like a criminal for simply riding my bicycle.

That said, I continue to hand out 'wave throughs' and smiles to peds and drivers alike.

bikesgonewild said...

...mikeweb...that's the way to do it - "lead by example" & while it's not always easy, the responsibility you show should be applauded...

...i try & do the same but methinks 'tis a wee bit easier (read: i fucking know it is) out here in 'mellow marin'...

...stay the course, amigo & most of all, stay safe...

Marcel Da Chump said...

mikeweb,
that's what I'm talkin' about. Way to represent.

bikesgonewild said...

...today’s stage 4 was a 6 hour, 216 kilometer impromptu memorial led by wouter weylandt’s teammates, colleagues & friends & respectfully attended by thousands upon thousands of fans who not only showed their love for the young deceased rider but also support for the rest of the racers who tomorrow, will return to being absolutely focused on the job of racing & winning this bicycle race...

...but today was a day for heartfelt emotions & they were written on the sober faces of those young men, colorfully kitted as they were...

...this wonderful sport, even in tragedy, has the ability to show it’s class & beauty in a way impossible in any other sport...

crosspalms said...

mikeweb,
amen

Fred said...

I will personally offer a 10% discount to any reader of this blog who purchases a case of my personally curated, and emitted, mineral-infused "water."

Anonymous said...

P-far endo

Anonymous said...

fred water is actually from nyc. i think it's bottled in red hook. repackaged nyc tap water?

Anonymous said...

I would like to note that the picture of messengers seemingly allowing an elderly lady pass is actually some messengers stopped for a chat at a green light. The passerby is a dementia victim fortunate that she came across the most relaxed messengers in the country.

Anonymous said...

i am know safe-able and not worried about all the random cunt hairs in the world.

anon 11:01
pathetic

twisty faces early post
i feel sorry for any warm body near you.

anon 11:04
My lead out man sucks. maybe you should stop paying?

Marchel du douche...change your name to MDC and forget about your miniature table settings...and goats and donkeys and birds of prey.

...i try & do the same but methinks 'tis a wee bit easier (read: i fucking know it is) out here in 'mellow marin'.
WOW! the we bit turned into tweebit and doods gone wild GBW has turned into a fresh bait consortium.

-angry dragon

Mature contribution said...

Someone's posts sound like they have been through Babelfish a few times...

David said...

Snob,
Just read your Bicycling.com blog. Totally class act. Thank you. On a related note, what the heck is the other writer(s) of the story on the death thinking with that list of "principal fatalities"? Are there unprincipal fatalities? Riders whose deaths don't matter? If they mean, Oops, we might have left one out, they should just say that.

Anonymous said...

Last Monday in lower Manhattan I was surprised to find myself getting pulled over while riding down a mostly empty street.

Apparently the two officers thought the red light on the back of my bag looked suspicious.

If they'll harass you for trying to follow the rules its a hopeless fight.

Kyle said...

dude the last few paragraphs of this post had me crying, cheers snob

Runescape Gold said...

You already know, probably its nude Eileen Brennan cycling by way of Wiliamsburg which includes your Hasidim for the attack. The lady should hide.


Cheap Runescape Gold
Cheapest RS Gold

ekle paylas said...

nice blog Thanks for sharing. voicesohbet was really very nice.
sesli chat siteleri sesli sohbet
sesli sohbet siteleri sesli chat
seslichat seslisohbet
sesli siteleri chat siteleri
sohbet siteleri sesli siteler
voice sohbet sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli sohbet seslisohbet
sohbet siteleri sesli chat siteleri
seslichat sesli chat
herkesburda herkes burda
sohbetmerkezi sohbetmerkezi

Fixie Bikes said...

That's one haggard santa clause.

Anonymous said...

As a new player in an older game that make no mistake buy rs gold, with an established WOW game, that's show around from leveling and original content, the World of Warcraft definitely qualifies, you are quite certainly cheap wow gold behind the curve.

Anonymous said...

Your Cheap GW2 Gold depth of a accurate Role-play game yet never achieved that. Hard core people will skip their particular Endcontent Diablo 3 Gold Cheap, if the insufficient weighting Itemspirale or perhaps organized raids or small cycle level.

game gold said...

According to DOT’s 2010 Sustainable Streets Index, commuter cycling increased 262% in New York City from 2000 to 2010.LOL Coaching
Cheap LOL Coaching
With more bikes on the road, smart cycling is even more crucial to making New York City’s streets safer for everyone using them