Here's a story that reaffirms my faith in New York City cycling.
A few weeks back, there was a series of violent bike thefts on the Willis Avenue Bridge between Manhattan and the Bronx:
The latest incident occurred on Nov. 1, when a 34-year-old man rode his bike over the Willis Avenue Bridge at 6:15 a.m. Police say two men grabbed the rider off his bike and began to hit him in the face with a metal pipe. Emergency medics on the scene suspected that his nose was broken and took him to the hospital.
So what did the police do? They set up a sting operation in which undercover officers dressed as cyclists, and then they arrested all the assailants involved. Furthermore, there's now a patrol stationed there to make sure cyclists can pass over the bridge safely.
No, actually what they're doing is ticketing cyclists for riding on the bike path:
Rienti says the officer told him that the precinct had received complaints about cyclists using the path. Rienti told the officer that it’s a shared-use path where cyclists are allowed. ”He sort of just shrugged his shoulders and wrote the ticket,” Rienti said. ”I thought he was going to give me some sort of warning.”
And not only did they ding this guy for riding legally on a bike path, but then they dinged the poor guy again on the way home:
Update: Rienti says in a followup e-mail that he received another ticket on his commute home tonight on the Willis Avenue Bridge after an officer brushed away the DOT bike route information Rienti showed him. “He told me that you can only bike where there is a sign telling you it’s okay,” Rienti said, adding that he also plans to fight the second ticket in court.
You've got to admire the efficiency here. A few years back, the NYPD came up with the bright idea of parking in the bike lane, forcing cyclists to ride around them, and then ticketing the cyclists for leaving the bike lane. Of course, it's perfectly legal to leave the bike lane if you need to do so. Therefore, they've clearly realized that if they're going to give you a ticket for something that's perfectly legal, they might as well dispense with the trouble of setting up a blockade and instead just make up some shit about how "you can only bike where there is a sign telling you it's okay." And since, to my knowledge, there are very, very few signs that explicitly tell you "it's okay to bike here," that pretty much allows them to give you a ticket for simply being on a bike anywhere at any time.
Meanwhile, you already know this, but it bears mentioning that it's still totally acceptable to attempt to run down a cyclist with your taxicab and then sever a woman's leg in the process as she enjoys a frankfurter on the sidewalk:
Of course, nobody wants this to happen, and fortunately the president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers has come up with an innovative solution:
Mr. Himon could not be reached for comment. But Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, issued a statement calling the crash a “tragic accident” and suggesting that the appropriate response would be stricter regulation of cyclists.
This is such a staggeringly huge "Fuck You" to pretty much everybody in New York City that I'm surprised the New York Times isn't making a bigger deal of it.
No, the Grey Lady's cataracts have left her pretty much blind to the fact that pedestrians are getting picked off by cars on a daily basis and that virtually all of the drivers receive the full protection of the city and state.
I went trough a period of being moronically optimistic with regard to the future of cycling in New York City when we started getting all this fancy infrastructure, but I have to admit I'm now thoroughly embarrassed and am reverting to the traditional "Every man, woman, and child for him-or-herself" mode. It's pretty sad how they rolled out those bike lanes, lured a bunch of people onto their bikes, and then systematically kicked them all in the groin one by one, but in retrospect it's not surprising. It's hard not to want to make a point of violating as many traffic laws as possible while cycling, because at least that way when you get a ticket for some bullshit offense like "operating a bicycle with an even number of wheels on a numbered street" you'll at least have amortized the cost of the fine. You have to figure if you run 200 lights in a week and then get a $200 ticket for "cycling in a northerly direction while breathing" at least you've paid only a buck a light.
Meanwhile, these two are still at it:
USA Today reports that Landis’ lawyers will argue that the Wartime Suspension of Limitations act applies to the qui tam suit as the alleged federal fraud – the doping programme at US Postal – occurred in part while the United States was at war with Afghanistan.
The newspaper quotes Tony Anikeeff, an attorney with the Williams Mullen, who explained the background of the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act. “It is a highly controversial provision of the False Claims Act. It is used by the Justice Department mostly in dealing with fraud in Afghanistan because we were at war,” Anikeef said.
I admit I don't fully grasp the ethical implications of the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, but whatever they are they certainly pale in comparison to the importance of settling a stupid doped-up Lycra-clad cat fight. Maybe I can invoke the some kind of wartime defense the next time I get a ticket for riding a bicycle within 200 feet of a sidewalk--because this is America, and when the fuck isn't it wartime?
Anyway, it's remarkable that so many people and media outlets expend so much energy on a scandal within a sport that is marginally less exciting than curling. Really, the only way you could make stage racing more tedious would be to put it into board game form--which, incredibly, someone is now trying to do:
And, for which, even more incredibly, he wants $25,000:
Though when you look at those exquisite game pieces you begin to understand why:
Yeah, those wads of used chewing gum aren't going to paint themselves.
Oh, you're also allowed to "cut off a rider:"
You can cut off a rider if you want to slow him down but remember that he can do the same to you next time so be careful with whom you mess.
Which is how you know it was designed by a Cat 4. That's also how you know, despite the placeholder text, that there will ultimately be a card for "Sprints on the hoods, crashes self and half the field:"
It's hard to imagine a circumstance in which I'd play this game. I suppose I might consider it if I were snowed in for a period of weeks and there was no electricity, but then again I'd probably eat it to stay alive before I'd ever resort to actually playing it.
Lastly via CommieCanuck, if you're looking for a succinct overview of the Rob Ford scandal, here you go:
If nothing else, it makes me oddly proud that, in many ways, his profound hate for cyclists is what got him to where he is today.