It's Wednesday! Ready for a fun fact? Over a quarter of the pedestrians who get hit by cars in New York City are crossing with the light:
In 2012, 26.9 percent of pedestrian-involved crashes took place when the pedestrian was crossing the street with the signal. 23.6 percent occurred when the pedestrian was crossing with no signal (or on the sidewalk), and 20.4 percent occurred when the pedestrian was crossing against the signal. This is consistent with another set of findings, which show that 36 percent of crashes are caused by driver inattention. The next most common cause is pedestrian error/confusion, though at 21.5 percent, it's a distant second.
This reinforces my increasingly strong belief that it's actually safer to jaywalk. See, when you're in a crosswalk you're relying on drivers (yes, fine, and cyclists too) to stop at the red light, which they often don't do. However, when you're jaywalking, at least you know nobody's going to be stopping, and if they do happen to stop for you it's just a bonus.
Basically, trusting these fuckers to do what they're supposed to is only going to get you in trouble.
Yes, making your own rules is the only sensible option for the thinking pedestrian and cyclist, because we live in what back in the '80s used to be called a "bullshit society." Consider the Metro-North derailment:
All of this is as it should be.
What's not as it should be is that "dazed" drivers traveling at "excessive speed" kill people in this city pretty much every day, and most of them get little more than a ticket. In fact, a week in which "only" four people get killed by cars in this town is actually pretty good. So why not black box and cellphone subpoena those fuckers? Well, it's because your life is important if you're riding a train or a plane, but if you're run down on the sidewalk by some asshole in a hurry to get to a "Black Friday" sale nobody gives a shit--which, incidentally, is also why you're allowed to take a nap in your idling BMW in front of a Citi Bike rack:
But if you ride one of those Citi Bikes on the sidewalk you'll get a criminal court summons.
Okay, enough death. Let's talk about marketing! This very morning, I was the recipient of a marketing email for a "hoodie:"
Remember when a "hoodie" was just a sweatshirt with a hood on it? Not anymore! Now it's a highly technical piece of apparel only marginally less complicated and expensive than a parachute:
AP Series // Merino Softshell Hoodie
The Zurich soft-shell hoodie combines a 4-way stretch nylon shell with a soft Merino wool lining. The outer-shell layer is constructed using Swiss-made Schoeller®-Dryskin fabric with a durable water repellent treatment. This durable 4-way stretch nylon fabric is engineered to provide breathability and moisture management in addition to wind and water repellency. The soft Merino wool lining naturally regulates body temperature, resists odor, provides moisture management, and stretches with your body.
The Zurich is a utilitarian garment ideal for high activity that features single welt hand-warmer pockets, rear zippered pocket, and a semi-fitted hood.
Made in San Francisco, California.
That's why it boasts a price tag approaching $400:
Look, I don't know. I probably shouldn't talk. I have an overly fancy bike or two. I live in New York City in a $30 million mansion that would only cost $3 million elsewhere. I've been known to quaff an artisanal cocktail or nine and slurp down some overpriced oysters by the dozen. But to me, the "hoodie" was always one of those safe havens where you saved money--a sawbuck or three at the Army Navy store and you're set. Seems to me that if you want a "utilitarian garment" you could easily get one for a tenth of the price.
And who even ever uses the hood on a "hoodie" anyway when they're riding a bike?
Nobody, that's who.
Then again, I'm the asshole in the greasy cotton sweatshirt with the frayed sleeves sucking down gimlets and oysters, so there you go. But it's only because I live where I do. If I lived in San Francisco the equation would be reversed, and I could just wear a $400 sweatshirt and look great eating delicious $5 "Epic® Burritos™."
Actually, as I typed that last paragraph, I thought for a moment I'd seized upon some vital understanding of the fundamental difference between the East Coast and the West Coast, but I lost it almost immediately.
Ah, fuck it™.
I think what it really berls down to for me though is that I'm uncomfortable with haute "bike bro" fashion: the ultra high-end hoodie; the shants; the tattoos of stars and slogans in delicate cursive... These are clothes for people who are into audio and photography equipment, the cycling equivalent of what used to be called "metrosexuals." (You might call them "techiesexuals.") I do have a backpack from the aforementioned hoodie company though, and I think it's this one:
They didn't give it to me or anything like that, I walked right into a store and bought it before one of my "BRA" tours. It's great, too--capacious and durable and all the other stuff a bag is supposed to be--except for the fact it has actual "blind spots" when you look over your shoulder:
I had no idea it was even possible for a bag to have blind spots (or at least I'd never encountered it) but evidently it's a "thing" and my bag has them. Who knew?
As I typed that last paragraph, I felt like I was on the cusp of some vital understanding of the nature of consumerism and materialism and the quest for freedom from attachments and all that, but I lost it again almost immediately.
Ah, fuck it™.
I guess I need some sort of hip artisanal urbanist utilitarian high-activity helment mirror--or else this:
This is a great tool for the recumbent rider who wants to monitor his beard for lice--and speaking of lice, a reader forwarded me this recently:
Honestly, who hasn't been there? I mean, right? Right?!?
At least the bed bugs crawled into his rear "but" crack and not the front one.
Speaking of marketing emails, I received an email from Velo Orange offering me the opportunity to try their new "Crazy Bars:"
I declined on the basis that they're simply too crazy for me. Actually, they make my head hurt--that cockpit looks like a fixie with bullhorns humping a three-speed. However, they may not be too crazy for you or somebody you know, and if you like to alternate between sitting bolt upright and time-trialling then these should be on the top of your holiday wish list.
Meanwhile, remember how yesterday I mentioned Jan Ullrich is now the embodiment of success?
Well, this was only reaffirmed by the revelation that his erstwhile arch-nemesis has been reduced to cruising for (or being cruised by) triathletes:
“I said ‘I will race you, mate.’ I don’t even care if there are no accolades. No one around. I just want to race you. Just two old blokes. No excuses,’” McCormack said. “Lance has done some horrible things and some amazing things athletically, but he is still a competitor and I have always been inspired by racing competitors.
“He’s a prickly personality and I would love to go around and have a crack at him.”
Why does everything Australians say sound obscene? Usually if I let someone go around and have a crack at me they've at least bought me a drink first.
A gimlet and a dozen ersters and I'm anybody's.
Lastly, a Tweeterer tweeted me this picture of a Fred on a pennyfarthing towing a penguin in a trailer:
You've got to hand it to G--gle: they know how to use an amusing image to temper the horrifyingly Orwellian degree to which they see absolutely everything you do.