Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lashing Out: Apparently Everybody Hates Everybody

Remember the Great New York City Bicycle Crackdown of 2011, when cyclists were getting tickets for laughably minor offenses such as mismatched tires, poor taintal hygiene, and having tiny pieces of spinach lodged between their teeth? Well, in the waning days of summer it may seem like all this happened a lifetime ago, but for those who received those $575 spinach summonses the pain is still all too real. (I'll never eat a spinach omelette ever again.) And now, "Reclaim," the Transportation Alternatives member magazine, has published an interview with a cycling police officer known only as "Officer X" in which he reveals the truth about the NYPD and cyclists (via Gothamist):


The biggest revelation is something I've long suspected, which is that pretty much everything is Critical Mass's fault:

Let's get right down to it: Do police officers hate cyclists?

No. But a lot of things have changed since the Critical Mass incident in 2007, when that rookie cop pushed a cyclist off his bike in Times Square. Now whenever an officer views a cyclist, he immediately associates them with Critical Mass riders and that incident. Even when I ride my bike to the precinct, I get that: “You riding Critical Mass? You one of them?”

Thank you, Critical Mass, for screwing us all with your dildo of self-righteousness.

But wait, there's more! "Officer X" also tells us how exactly to run a red light without fear of reprisal:

We've got about 10,000 subscribers, many of whom are cyclists in New York City. As an officer, and a cyclist, is there anything you would like to tell them?

As a beat cop speaking to cyclists, I would say to follow the law so you have nothing to worry about. As a cyclist speaking to a beat cop, I'd say sometimes it makes more sense to look both ways and coast through a red light.

If a cyclist should ride to a light, see that no one is coming and proceed cautiously, why not? But from an officer's perspective, that is too messy. What if a vehicle comes out of nowhere? How long did the cyclist look to each side? Did they actually come to a complete stop? Was he rolling? It would be impossible to make something so subjective stick in court.

If you must, though, here's a way to safely blow a red light: ride up to it, look both ways, then get of your bike and walk through the intersection, then get back on. No self-respecting cop is going to write a jaywalker.

Unfortunately, this isn't going to work, because while no self-respecting cop is going to ticket a jaywalker, no self-respecting cyclist is going to walk his bicycle through an intersection either. However, I see people on motor scooters do it all the time, which is probably because people who ride motor scooters are already deficient in self-respect.

And best of all, whether you cycle, drive, walk, or putter around on a motor scooter, you can do whatever the hell you want now anyway, because according to "Officer X" apparently they're no longer giving tickets to anybody:

In the next two to three weeks [late July/early August] you may see a sudden decline in the amount of summonses issued to everyone: cyclists, motorists, everybody.

Let the insanity begin!

Speaking of insanity, now that the fixed-gear is finally falling out of favor among New York City cyclists, I've noticed a new form of idiotic intersection behavior that is rapidly filling the void left by the trackstand. Here's how it works:

1) Approach a heavily-trafficked intersection without slowing down at all;

2) Ride right through the red light;

3) When you're almost hit by a honking car, come to an abrupt stop and put down a single foot;

4) As traffic continues to roar past you, awkwardly push yourself the rest of the way through the intersection with that single foot like an elderly crab with a walker.

I don't understand the thought process behind this idiotic behavior, but I've seen it at pretty much every red light I've encountered this week. My best guess is that as fixed-gear riders transition to bicycles that coast they still don't understand how brakes work, and so when trouble arises their first instinct is to put their feet down Fred Flinstone style.

Meanwhile, in Kalamazoo, Michigan (a place that, to my surprise, actually exists outside of cartoons), a reader informs me that, instead of running down cyclists, drivers are "cutting out the middle man" as it were and driving right into the bike shops:


So far the authorities are at a loss as to what happened:

There is no word yet on what caused the driver to crash into the building.

Though I hope they're investigating the theory that the motor vehicle operator is a complete and utter moron.

Of course, something like this could never happen in Portland--or could it? Apparently not every Portlander is a bike-humping smugmonger, for a reader recently forwarded the following photo:

In which one car owner makes his thoughts on cycling quite clear:


As it happens, the car would appear to belong to somebody involved with a shop called "DynaSport," and their website describes their enterprise thusly:

DynaSport was founded by enthusiasts to serve enthusiasts. There’s something special about BMW’s and MINI’s, and we believe there should be something special about the way your vehicle is serviced as well. As BMW and MINI owners ourselves, we understand what’s behind the wheel.

I'm pretty sure I understand what's behind the wheel too, and that would be a raging douchebag.

In any case, with all the anti-cycling sentiment out there, it's no wonder that some of us feel persecuted. One way to deal with this is to band together and form rides like Critical Mass, which only serve to make the situation worse. Or, another way is to channel all your rage into a gruesomely violent "hilpster" revenge fantasy, as in this short film to which I was alerted by another reader:

Human Cop Killer from jay dougrey on Vimeo.

In it, we see a rider who's a member of the "trying to be scary" hilpster subset:

As he rides around, he performs stupid hilpster tricks such as skidding into pedestrians so that they're forced to admire the expensive crabon disc wheel he bought on eBay:

Then, he stops to drink a wine cooler:

After which he is denied entry into his favorite brunch spot by a bouncer who looks like Kevin Bacon on HGH:

This makes him so mad that he sprints wildly--though not so wildly that he's able to overcome his fear of using the drops:

In fact, the thought of riding in the drops scares him so much that it makes him vomit:

Two and a half wine coolers later, a driver starts honking at him because he is riding like a upper-echelon idiot:

So he gets off his bike and confronts the motorist:

And then stabs him to death with his Bartles & Jaymes, leaving the rest of us to wonder what in Lob's name we just watched:

The moral of the story, of course is this: Fixed-gear riders really shouldn't try to look tough, since the "fierce kitten" effect almost always causes it to backfire.

(Leader of the "Hellkrew" will give you the scratching of a lifetime.)

I'd like to see the wine cooler-swigging Hellkrew guy try his antics in New York, where I've just been informed you're lucky to finish your ride without getting brained by packs of teenagers:

I'm pretty sure that once the debris started flying the Hellkrew would immediately cower in the nearest brunch spot, and if nothing else this story adds yet another dimension to the eternal helment argument. Mostly though, I'm relieved that the rider wasn't injured more seriously, and I'll also add that if you haven't had a hard object hurled at you while traveling in a car, on a bike, or on foot in New York City, then you probably haven't lived here very long. Or else you're very, very scary looking.

Speaking of things that look scary, a reader in Washington, DC recently spotted this:

Coincidentally, this is exactly what your ejaculate looks like under a microscope after you've eaten an entire bag of Skittles.

Even scarier is this homemade recumbent spotted by a reader in Sacramento:


Given the situation in New York City these days, if you ride a recumbent in Brooklyn you should probably wear a goalie mask.