Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Barrelling Along

Firstly, I'd like to sincerely thank everybody who made a suggestion for a BRA stop yesterday. Not only was I deeply flattered by the invitations, but I also learned of many strange and exotic places I never even knew existed. For example, did you know there's a Portland in Maine? I didn't. Did you know that the capital of the United States is Washington, DC and not Wall Street? I didn't. Did you know that Mississippi and Missouri are two entirely different states? I certainly didn't, I just thought a surprising number of Mississippians (Mississippippians?) didn't know how to spell. Really, it's amazing what Americans can learn from each other when we actually communicate instead of just wearing headphones, eating sour cream and onion-flavored Pringles, and shooting at one another.

Anyway, now that you've shared the places where you live, I'd like to share a little bit about the place where I live, which is a small town called Brooklyn, USA. There are 2.5 millionses of people here, which is a lot. That's over 24,000 times more people than there are in Fucking, Austria:

Though it's only a third of the population of fucking Austria:

(Duuude, fucking Austria looks nice!)

To be perfectly honest, my feelings towards Brooklyn vacillate like a tourist on one of those rent-a-bikes. Sure, sometimes I don't like it here, but the times when I actively hate it more than make up for this. Here's just one of the many profoundly annoying things that are going on in Brooklyn right now:

First of all, if you're not familiar with Brooklyn, here's a little background on Prospect Park: it's a park. That's all you really need to know. Well, that and the fact that, as one of the New York City's most beautiful and popular public parks, it is open to motor vehicle traffic some of the time, and the rest of the time people just drive through it anyway. Sure, there are people lobbying to have cars banned from the park, but naturally we can't let this happen, since if people aren't allowed to drive through the precious few spaces we have in which to do things like walk and teach our children how to walk then before you know it we'll all get spoiled and start expecting people not to run us over when we're outside of the park, too. Obviously this notion is absurd.

Anyway, lots of people also ride bikes in Prospect Park, and yes, a not-insignificant number of these people are idiots who do things like don mankinis practice their time-trialling on busy summer Saturday afternoons, or who egregiously "salmon" while dragging some dimwitted dog along with them. Some of them even suck your wheel in the night. Others of these riders are not idiots at all, but are merely conscientious people enjoying a public space in an unobtrusive fashion. Either way, once in a great while, whether it's their fault or not, one of these cyclists runs into a pedestrian.

We're funny in America. When a person gets hit by a car, which happens roughly all the time, we generally place it in the same category as bear attacks and people who fall of their roofs because they were wearing roller skates while trying to install a satellite dish: basically, we blame the victim. If the victim was a pedestrian, he or she should have been more careful. If the victim was a cyclist, he or she should have been more careful and should also have been wearing a helmet. Motor vehicle traffic and the concomitant carnage is an inevitablity. A force of nature. An act of god that is completely out of our control.

On the other hand, when a person on a bicycle hits somebody, we react in the same way that we do to shootings: we're outraged, and we call for stricter laws. It's just the way we are. Faced by something that's just too daunting (cars) we instead prefer to beat up on the little guy (bikes).

In any case, there were some bike-related pedestrian injuries in the park recently, and somebody sued the city, and so there was a little mini bike crackdown in the park, and the Department of Transportation ultimately moved to solve it by harnessing the awesome power of orange barrels:

In Portland, the joke is that they "put a bird on it." However, in New York when it comes to traffic-related issues we prefer to "put a cone on it"--or, if this doesn't solve the problem, we bring out the heavy artillery and use the dreaded barrels. As you can see, the idea here is to force traffic into this extremely well-designed funneling system, and as you can imagine, it does no good whatsoever.

When I first saw the barrels, I thought, "Holy crap! Roadwork! They're actually fixing something." When I saw them again awhile later, I thought, "Huh, whatever it is is still broke." Then I learned that it wasn't roadwork at all, and that this was somehow supposed to keep me from riding into people.

Of course, in practice the barrels are merely confusing. Do you ride between the cones? Outside the cones in the bike lane that's right next to them? Or do we just play slalom through them? But to worry about these things is to miss the point, which is that the barrels aren't barrels of safety. The barrels are Barrels of Shame. They're great big dunce caps for the cyclists of Brooklyn to remind us of how hated we are.

So what are we supposed to do? Sometimes it feels like there are metaphorical barrels everywhere, and the goal is to funnel us all into Portland. But Portland isn't my home. This is my home, for better or worse. Do I really have to leave? Meanwhile, in the same paper as the above article, I also saw this:

Yes, it's synchronized swimming, the ideal nostalgic activity for the person looking for something that splits the difference between tweed rides and roller derby:

The amateur duo began moonlighting as urban mermaids in 2010 after meeting a ballerina in Paris who made them nostalgic for the swim and dance classes of their youth. Today, they’ve turned the Brooklyn Peaches into a creative project: Salm and Sciarrillo teach a class at the Dodge YMCA in Boerum Hill and the Brooklyn Peaches have appeared at an arts festival in the Rockaways, a winter pool party at a Park Avenue hotel, and an indie rock show at the Midtown Holiday Inn.

As well as for the enterprising fellow who figured this would be a great way to pick up chicks:

Roy Auty, a 35-year-old from Fort Greene and the only male in the class, said he’s always dreamed of learning synchronized swimming — but he likes the company more than the workouts themselves.

Sure, I could have Mr. Auty all wrong, but I can't help imagining him just spending the entire workout standing stock-still in the pool and leering.

Either way, given the sheer abundance of increasingly arcane pursuits in Brooklyn it often feels like we're turning into Portland anyway. And with the orange barrels and the synchronized swimming and the artisanal mayo all closing in, what choice does one really have? Why stay in the big, crowded new Portland that hates bikes? Maybe all the cyclists of Brooklyn should decamp for the real Portland where we can ruin their town instead.

Then, we could all get sponsorships from Giant:



"Why do sports companies only ever sponsor these guys?," asks the narrator:

"Why not sponsor him?"

Well, it's a good question, but if I had to guess I'd say that, given the route of the 2012 Tour de France, he's got little shot at the overall and is likely to win a only a transitional stage at best.

Then again, if Cadel Evans could do it maybe anyone can.

121 comments:

Anonymous said...

WEdnEsDay!!!

theEel said...

WEdnEsDay!!!

t said...

WEdnEsDay!!!

theEel said...

WEdnEsDay!!!

Anonymous said...

yessir!

Eclogite said...

Aw, yeah...

Anonymous said...

top ten

I am a commuting engine said...

Scrodum, I almost made it.

le Correcteur said...

Top ten; unread.

PawnShop said...

It's 4:20 somewhere.

Kenny Banya said...

fu-keen

Anonymous said...

STFU all of you.

Paul Bowen said...

Top twenee!

Anonymous said...

It's 420 in Brazil

Anonymous said...

Why not sponsor that guy? He's Old and Fat, just like me!!!

Buffalo Bill said...

Ok, my town isn't nearly as popular as Fucking, and we don't have any castles, but I still think you should have a BRA in Calgary. We even have buffalo around here.

Well, technically bison.

streepo said...

WEdnEsDay!!!

oh yeah and..

scranus!

Dave said...

I bet that last guy is a great descender though.

Anonymous said...

'revives the art'?

It's an Olympic sport you morons. Granted, bridge was an Olympic demonstration event at one point, but as the sibling of a former competitive synchronized swimmer, I think it's fair to say that the latter (no matter how ridiculous it is) actually requires one to be in shape.

If synchronized swimming becomes the new burlesque, I'm fleeing into the tundra.

McFly said...

Barrels of shame everywhere, I can see them from my crow's nest of entitlement. Top 20. Yesterday was a melee.

Anonymous said...

Snobby - there is a sure-fire way to prevent wheel suck - go slow. No one sucks my wheel.

cycle

Anonymous said...

ester williams?

Anonymous said...

Does David Byrne own an oragne barrell?

JB said...

Cue the Martin Short/Harry Shearer SNL synchronized swimming bit.

crosspalms said...

Thank you for the sultry water ballerinas.

db said...

Cue the old SNL skit with Martin Short and Harry Shearer as American male synchro swimmers with a dream.

"I don't swim."

esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

the park service claimed only that a cyclist fell and hurt himself injuring no one else

what the fuck is going on here?

Douche Machine, I think you should make some calls and check into this.

I'd do it myself but ONE OF US HAS TO WORK!!!

db said...

(Well played, JB.)

Anonymous said...

january haschish. and it´s 7.30 here in old Europe.

The NYer caption contest´s selected 3 are lame.

Grump said...

A 37 year old "Grad Student" ???
For once, I won't say anything mean.
.
.

Anonymous said...

So, why didn't Ms. NATALIE O’NEILL consult Snob for his opinion? And who is Eric McClure?

Anonymous said...

portland
Portland
PORTLAND!

Say it like the Brady girl , the ugly one.

Anonymous said...

BRVE MALE

COCK BALLS

HERO DUDE

Anonymous said...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4122944961711350389

The aforementioned Harry Shearer / Martin Short bit.

Enjoy!!

mikeweb said...

I read the Wiki article on Fucking yesterday. Apparently the town had to install surveillance cameras to deter people from videotaping themselves having sex in front of the town signs.

Beat THAT Portland!

Anonymous said...

That Wiki entry is full of win.
Fucking Austria indeed.

JB said...

Grump,

I think maybe if you are still "in school," you don't have to start paying back your school loans.

HTML Snob NYC said...

@ anon 1:43

You're welcome.

OBA said...

Barrels of Shame, indeed. +1

Bikewritercat said...

If we achieve more law unforcement, then only lawyers will be able to force themselves upon us.

In Austria...

Anonymous said...

If I were near the pool, I'd leer at the synchronized swimmers too -- or at least the two in the photo.

misster-PISSTA said...

off the back
wanking..opps working
on a new blog thingy



misster pissta to you

Buy-cycle said...

Weednesday. How about a book related appearance in the UK. Perhaps in Twatt; Orkney Islands. Not but seriously, come to the UK. Top 50?

Anonymous said...

(spoken joke, not sure if it works in Americanese)

What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison?

hey nonny mouse

(going out for a curry)

Dildo, NfL, Canada said...

What am I, chopped livuh?

Don't answer that.

Anonymous said...

Coming to you spring 2012, the BSNYC BRA Euro Tour: UK, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Germany.Drugs, beer, and bikes everywhere.

Trailer Park Cyclist said...

I was busy down cellar yesterday but would like to invite you to Burkittsville, Maryland.

BW

Anonymous said...

Missed opportunity to discuss pool shrinkage!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE both synchronized swimming and women's volleyball because cameltoe is like an official part of the sport...

Anonymous said...

I'm going to way out on a limb here and say that Mr. Auty was not leering at those women.

g-roc said...

Giant could sponsor him to carry the lantern rouge. And with his finish time, it would be required again.

Joe Dad said...

Hey WCDM
i've been riding a bicycle bike since like before you were pissing your pants (no, not yesterday's pissing).
i've never hit a pedestrian person the entire time.
they seem pretty easy to avoid, as they are large targets.

thoughts ?

Anonymous said...

going to go way out on a limb
you get the idea.

Sergey Chemezov said...

Giant has the right idea.

The wannabe-competitive/never-was-competitive bike riding consumers are a miniscule, fickle group are constrained by fashion dictate and the UCI.

The recreational/commuter consumer is growing the fastest because of cumulative effects of the war on the U.S. middle class. Fewer people can afford cars. The recreational types can't afford the motorsports no more.

Good for Giant.

Anonymous said...

Synchonized swimming is like yoga. I can't do it, but I like to go to classes anyways.

Drink said...

Woy do sports cumpneez awnley eva spownsa theyeez goys? Woy not spawnsa heem, huur or even huur? Woy don wee spownsa tha peayple whu roid evrah daah. Day doit foy theyuah helf.. They moit nevah ween a metahl or eevun a race.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this earlier... can you smoke weed under water? I feel like some clever scuba diver stoner must have solved this problem.

Marcel Da Chump said...

"problematic section of roadway?"...no problem...
nothing an orange barrel can't fix.

Anonymous said...

I hit a pedestrian once they came out of nowhere and i landed about 10 ft away sliding along on my face

SteveJ said...

Crikey! Lay off Cadel, you earned it, you know it!

bikesgonewild said...

...i live in fucking california...

...that's not an official name or anything, i'm just sayin'...

bikesgonewild said...

...from the article in the 'gothamist' as regards the now narrower channeling of cyclists due to the orange barrels...

...the concern being that they might now "...crash into that person instead of spreading out like a flock of birds evading prey. Even if they did avoid a collision with a pedestrian, one cyclist clipping a barrel could send an entire peloton down..."...

...okay, let's get this straight...if you are in a group of riders in an actual bicycle race you are in a 'peloton', ya ???...

...if you are in a group of riders in prospect, central or even fucking golden gate park & it is not an official, organized & sanctioned race, you are not, i'll repeat, NOT in a fucking peloton...

...got that ???...you might race on the weekends but on any other given day, riding in a large group, you are a buncha wanna-be's just barreling along...

Anonymous said...

65th! Probably, but I can't count that high.
Cadel jokes? Is it time for the TDF already?

JB said...

I had a head-on with a rollerblader once. We were both passing wide walkers on the path at the same time. He clipped my bars, turning them 90 degrees (and you know what happened next). I didn't wear a helmet back then. Nice guy. He visited me at the ER with his family as I was getting stitched up, then became my dentist.

Billy said...

At first I wondered why they had the Australian student doctor from House narrating that commercial.

"All their gear"? Is Giant going to give them all lycra and "halo bikes"?

I greatly preferred the orange barrels that temporarily marked the bike lane on the BU bridge here in Boston until they laid down the paint. It may be a badge of shame, but it does feel nice to have something at least semi-solid between me and the SUVs instead of just a stripe on the road.

Billy said...

@bikesgonewild: I thought "peloton" had graduated from technical racing term to general meaning as a group of bicyclists. Kind of like a murder of crows, clowder of cats, dazzle of zebras, or traffic jam of cars.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha I lol'd

crosspalms said...

Is a peloton bigger than a metric ton?

grog said...

Recumbabe hiding with the Peaches.

bikesgonewild said...

...@billy...that, sir, to my way of thinking, would be insulting to those who truly number up their kit & go for it...so, out of respect, i disagree...

...we, most all of us who ride bikes, like to 'push' ourselves whilst enjoying our rides but that does not make us racers, ya ???...

ZootS said...

I was up very late last night making Wednesday Brownies.

MMmmmmmwwwwweeeedddddyyyyyy.

HalfStepAndTheGranny said...

@ Billy.

Trade in those SPD sandals for actual shoes and the feeling of vulnerability will start to dissipate.
Unless you're a total WUSSIE.

yogisurf said...

That portly semi-Fred, sweating it out on the Speilzaied comfort bike(lawsuit pending) passed me on the way to work this morning. I demand a Cat 6 remake if he is sponsored. Happy WEdnEsDay hump day. Remember BSNYC...San Diego...San Diego...can you hear it...can you feel it....can you smell the epic burritos...

bikesgonewild said...

...crosspalms...having responded to billy as regards my respect for those in actual pelotons, for a better perspective, i would further disclose that the weight of egos in a 'peloton' would absolutely crush anything weighing a mere metric ton...

...to the point of being 'black hole-ish'...

Seriously (for once but NEVER again) said...

Would you spring($7.65ea)for the folding instead of wire bead on a set of 25c Gatorskins?

Billy said...

@Halfstep: Is a WUSSIE the Boston equivalent of a Brooklyn woosie?

I have a front brake, does that make me a wussie?

Wouldn't riding in 25 degree weather with sandals make me the opposite of a wussie?

In the end, isn't anyone who isn't John Forrester or in an actual peloton a wussie?

screaming skull said...

Ho ho ho!

bike Giant!

bikesgonewild said...

...seriously (for once but NEVER again)...DUH !!!...oh, sorry, i mean yes...

...i'm assuming you mean $7.65 extra per tire for the folding...

...but yes & i won't even tell you why...

Anonymous said...

wildcat, can you put a sticker of recumbabe in your next book. that would be pretty sweet.

Anonymous said...

Commuting at the barrel of gun!
i submit North Carolina's approach to prosecuting the motorist for shooting a local cyclist with intent to kill. Alan Simmons was shot in the head, or helmet rather, after a dispute with a driver over child saftey! The gun toting lunatic only served a 4 month sentence due to his exemplary career as a firefighter and service in the armed forces. unbelievable. its all here... http://www.mountainx.com/article/25253/Former-Asheville-firefighter-gets-4-months-for-shooting-cyclist

Vegas said...

I actually had some work yesterday and couldn't barrel through (haha) all the comments (w/o hitting a pedestrian anyway). I would ride my crAbon the 75mi to San Diego for a BRA. Stay Classy.

Anonymous said...

Boston drivers are way more likely to hit a cyclist than an orange barrel.
They could easiy wash your blood off their certified pre-owned beemer.
But if they hit a barrel and some of that orange transfered off on their paintjob, they would never get it off.

cyclotourist said...

DUNC ECAP

McFly said...

BGW, thank you. The weight I guess. Turns out folding put me at $100.52 so it's FREE SHIPPING! Been running the Schwalbe Durano for years but need better sidewall protection due to Tenn conditions and poor decision making.

Anonymous said...

Panties!
Pedestrian park barrel commuter Giant-sponsored Fucking Austrian fierce kitty
panties!

Ben Levy said...

Just finished reading Bike Snob. Went through it too fast.Couldn't put it down.I must have read "Roadie:The Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer"a gazillion times by now.Finally I have another novel just as informative and hilarious to add to it.
Chapter nine,trimming the fat,Pg 172:Pain,natures cruel instructor. Oh man did that hit home.

Roadie for life!

And page 195,The!"Charles Manson" actually said that?...Wow!If I ever get a wild hair up my butt for another tattoo that quote is going to be at the top of my list LOL. The stickers were a nice touch too. One for my laptop and another for my down tube of my laterally stiff yet vertically compliant 2009 Specialized "WHWSY"(Who haven't we sued yet)Allez. Looking forward to your next novel.

A-Meh

Anonymous said...

I am one of the people hired to hide in the barrels and snap photos of people passing.

It is a fun job and I document some crazy shit.

The King of Park Slope said...

Synchronised swimming is an Olympic sport ... good thing those whimsical city girls have legitimised it.

Doug said...

In France there is a town called Pussy.
'Jus sayin'!

Anonymous said...

Re. the Synchronized swimming.

Nothing exists nor is legit IN BROOKLYN until some 37 year old grad student curates and legitimizes it by bringing it into socially chic settings where it can be seen anew and parsed by the tribe. Olympic sport? Not relevant.
Two sultry Nicoles in one pieces, add a few PBRs and Viola, you have an event.

Your name IS Viola, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Okay, if we're dreaming of summer already ...

Go Cadel!

(BSNYC started it)

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

I'm with Anon 5:50pm. Recumbabe stickers please.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

I'm with Anon 5:50pm. Recumbabe stickers please.

alex said...

i wanna go to Austria.

Anonymous said...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4122944961711350389

Hey you! I know you, I know you!

Old Stick Aftershave Guy said...

Recumbabe stickers! Zounds, what a smashing idea!

leroy said...

BSNYC --

Like you, I completely missed the point of the orange barrels in Prospect Park.

Fortunately, my dog explained that they are part of the canine biathlon course, an urban winter olympic event that combines cycling and lifting one's leg on designated targets along the course.

He and his friends are using barrels until their order of Marty Markowitz garden gnome statuettes arrives.

I'm just glad they scotched the plans for a traditional winter biathlon course due to the lack of snow this winter.

Dogs on skis with rifles roaming Prospect Park would have been weird.

leroy said...

98...

leroy said...

99...

Anonymous said...

100 yay!!!

How sad. We Canucks used kick ass at syncronized swimming. Yay! again.

Anonymous said...

101 doucheclamations.

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bikesgonewild said...

...in fucking austria they like to sing...

..."roll out za barrel,
ve'll have a barrel of fun,
roll out za barrel,
ve've got za blues on za run..."
...

...the only reason they don't mention anything about the barrels being orange is 'cuz let's face it, nothing rhymes with 'orange'...

...not even leroy's dog has got an answer to that...

g-roc said...

Wow, there's like 5 times less comments than on yesterday's post. Hey, maybe today's post sucks 5 times less than yesterday's and no one can be bothered to tell you. Or maybe everyone's too stoned to comment today. Dude(r).

cwcushman said...

It would all be much easier with one of these:

Ridekick Power Trailer

http://www.ridekick.com/?fb=12

"Cycle more, and have FUN!

-Bicycle to work without a sweat
- Ride to the store instead of driving
- Boost up hills and into the wind
- The trailer has a quiet electric motor inside
- Hook it up to YOUR favorite bike
- The Ridekick power trailer pushes you and your bike up to 19 mph"

le bateau ivre said...

My son started joining me for 15-mile rides when he was 11 and I thought, "good start." He turned 13 and was routinely riding 50 or 60 miles with me and I thought, "now, this is wonderful." He will be 14 soon and I don't even bother trying to stay with him when he sprints. A few days ago my wife injured herself, and when I told my son he asked anxiously, "is she going to be okay?" I reassured him that she had suffered sprained ankles, nothing life-threatening. "Oh, man- thank Lob," he said, and happily I thought, "my son is a real cyclist now."

(Then we took his mom to Urgent Care.)

Kenneth Trueman said...

Barrels of shame.
Suitcase of courage.

So much to think about...

petrus said...

I bet you can't find sultry urban mermaids in Fucking though. Maybe in Tittmoning, but that's just across the German border.

Bottom X!

Anonymous said...

Fucking scranus!

Cadel for President.

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

it's today right>

Anonymous said...

Nicely worded! I was smiling along, having a quiet chuckle every so often, until the final line.... GOLD!!!! I think I've wet my pants....

Fraidy said...

I didn't bike through the park in a while so I have no idea what's going on there. Those barrels don't look like fun. If the city was so concerned about Brooklyn cyclists not hitting pedestrians they should finally make a bike lane on Eastern Parkway from Washington Ave. to Grand Army. I bike down Eastern Parkway all the time and the only safe way to continue to Grand Army is on the sidewalk which is not so safe for pedestrians, especially those who don't pay attention to what's going on around them.

helena said...

It wouldn't be a sixthreezero without the smooth cruise configuration, so you know it will not only look great, but it'll give yopu the smoothest and easiest ride possible California Bikes.
bicycles

Rapha Cock Tattoo said...

Arcane Brooklyn Pursuit #112: sacrificing live chickens on the B/D tracks near Prospect Park.

Anonymous said...

As one of the inmates (yes, you read that right) of fucking Austria I feel obligated to inform you that, unfortunately, not all of fucking Austria looks like that. In fact, most people live in freaking cities, the largest of which is stinking Vienna, where I reside and whose population is two thirds that of Brooklyn. Here's what my part of stinking Vienna looks like: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Wien_U-Bahn-Station_Kagran.jpg

My advice is to stay put and not come here unless absolutely necessary.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday...

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Anonymous said...

Truly sorry to bump such an old post however i thought the irony of the situation in which Giant plans to sponsor a man clearly suffering from congenital heart disease whilst using a shot of him riding through none other than Carlton Gardens, Melbourne, AUS needed to be pointed out. It is illegal to ride your bicycle through that park :) good work on that one Giant.

OMR said...

Lovely shoes ! It's perfect for the summer

http://www.xtraorbit.com/1366.html

john said...

That last dude looks haggard.

Stephaniebota said...

Coming to you spring 2012, the BSNYC BRA Euro Tour: UK, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Germany.Drugs, beer, and bikes everywhere.