Monday, June 2, 2014

The Times They Are a-Different Than They Used To Be

Well, bike month's over, which means we can start blaming cyclists for all the ills of society again.  This time, we're throttling hardworking small businesspeople by killing their livelihood:


Mr. Singh, who works next door to Mr. Kraus, is more uncertain. Customers from the neighborhood are coming in “more and more,” he said. But he lost 40 percent of his business when the city created bike lanes along Ninth Avenue, making it impossible for taxis to park in front of his store.

Just for kicks, I used a popular mapping application to obtain a "street view" of Mr. Singh's store, and here is what I saw:


So yeah, thanks to these horrible bike lanes, instead of parking right in front of the store the taxi drivers now need to park a whole twenty (20) paces away at most.

This is not to begrudge Mr. Singh his right to make a robust living, and I certainly acknowledge he had a pretty sweet setup for years as far as feeding taxi drivers, what with being right in front of the hydrant and all:


(Easy to pull over.)

Still, my main question is this:

When the hell has a bike lane ever stopped a taxi driver from stopping?

If anything, if you didn't know any better, you'd just assume they were passenger pick-up and drop-off zones.

Also, this is a story about a "rising tide of wealth" subsuming humble shopkeepers, and it's worth noting how effortlessly the riding of bicycles--which arguably makes the city more accessible to people of limited means drowning in a rising tide of wealth--is often woven into the narrative of evil gentrification run amok.

Then again, maybe bike lanes are arteries of evil.  Just a few blocks south of Mr. Singh's shop is the New York City headquarters of a certain company that makes a popular mapping application, as well as an Internet searching engine, a video-sharing website, and a social network nobody uses.  So perhaps this bike lane merely serves an an artery of smugness for the certain company's employees, and once they're at work they deprive Mr. Singh of much-needed business by dining in their famously well-appointed cafeteria.

I really don't know, I'm not a socioecononomist.

All I know is that for a moment I thought maybe Mr. Singh could turn the bike lane situation to his advantage by marketing to bike messengers instead of cab drivers.  But then I realized that loading up on Indian food in the middle of the day is not exactly the wisest choice for a messenger who's still got five hours of riding to do--unless his goal is to clear out the elevator at his next pick-up, which now that I think of it isn't a bad time-saving trick.


("Everybody out!  The messenger just cut one!")

That's how you turn a local into an express.

Speaking of Manhattan and soul-crushing hyper-gentrification, I was knocking around downtown this past weekend when I passed a humble sidewalk sale:


I feel really bad for the kid whose fashion-conscious parents spend $125 for a 400lb Ross sold to them as a Schwinn (or "Schwin") because they're charmed by the vintage aesthetic.  Granted my own first bike was a nearly-identical Ross, but that's only because it was actually the 1970s--and even then the bike didn't cost anything since it had previously belonged to my cousin.  Most frightening of all though is that this bike will wind up being purchased by an adult, who will invariably ride it around the trendier precincts of the city, causing good honest working people like Mr. Singh to shake their heads when they salmon on by in the bike lane while gabbing on a cellphone.


And speaking of that certain company that's destroying Mr. Singh's livelihood (there, I said it), I bet their self-driving cars are specifically programmed not to pull over and support hardworking local businesspeople:


The company has begun building a fleet of 100 experimental electric-powered vehicles that will dispense with all the standard controls found in modern automobiles. The two-seat vehicle looks a bit like the ultracompact Fiat 500 or the Mercedes-Benz Smart car if you take out the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake and gear shift. The only things the driver controls is a red “e-stop” button for panic stops and a separate start button.

My first reaction upon reading this was that it was great news for cyclists, for here after all is a vehicle that is so diminutive that it couldn't intimidate even the most diminutive cyclist--and the best part is that it only goes 25mph:

Google’s prototype for its new cars will limit them to a top speed of 25 miles per hour. The cars are intended for driving in urban and suburban settings, not on highways. The low speed will probably keep the cars out of more restrictive regulatory categories for vehicles, giving them more design flexibility.

That means you can give the driver the finger and easily sprint away.

But the more I thought about it the more worried I became.  As it is, if a driver hits you while you're riding a bike, the police will virtually always assume you were somehow at fault--even if the driver is an unlicensed and uninsured homicidal maniac with a criminal record and a meth lab in the trunk.  Now imagine you somehow get hit by one of these little driverless golf carts.  Who do you think is getting blamed for that?  The car designed by the most talented software engineers the world has ever seen?  Or you, the smugmonger in shants and a pannier full of shattered craft beers?

And that's how cars will win the war once and for all.  In the future, you will always be wrong.  All the time.

Then the computers will finally take over everything and humankind will be reduced to slaves in a horrific techno-dystopia, yadayadayada.

Yes, it will be much worse than it is now, when we're only wrong 99% of the time, and the other 1% of the time they don't believe anything happened to us in the first place:


When Pupko later attempted to clarify to police that the rope was tied with the apparent intention of causing injury, he was brushed off, he said.

"[The lieutenant] is patting me on the back saying 'We're trying to help you here, not hurt you,' as if I'm this liar trying to fabricate the whole thing," he said. But when he insisted that the lieutenant take the report as a crime, he resisted. "He said 'Your friend was involved in a serious traumatic incident, there are certain inconsistencies we have to clarify,'" he said.

Sure, the lieutenant had every reason to be skeptical.  How does he know Pupko didn't hurt himself while fixed-gear jump-roping, which everyone knows is the new bike polo?

Lastly, remember those cats I mentioned a month or so ago?  Well, there's a reward:


Someone needs to do a "Silence of the Lambs"-esque remake of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" set against the gritty backdrop of downtown Yonkers.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

screw the podium

Anonymous said...

Howdy

Anonymous said...

TOP 10

ken e. said...

shut down

Serial Retrogrouch said...

missed..


deliberately asxpars

Anonymous said...

yolo

Paul Bowen said...

Morning all!

Anonymous said...

Ahh, it's sunny, mid 70s, nothing to do... time to jump rope traps on the fixie!

dnk said...

Top 40.

Caskey Kasem.

Dick Clark.

Rockin' Dick Clark.

Harry Caray.

Take me out to the ballgame.

CommentorBot9000 said...

More often than not I get to the end of a Snob post and I’m disappointed there is not more.

Freddy Murcks said...

Fear failure, friends. Yes, that's right. Fear Failure because the only thing we have to fear is failure itself.




8885628 164

Angry Beaver up North of the NSA Border said...

Pussies are missing in the Bronx?

dnk said...

The Park Slope rope trap incident is really disturbing for many reasons....

Angry Beaver up North of the NSA Border said...

Make that Yonkers.

DB said...

Hey. I just finished reading the article about Mr. Singh. How timely.
Wildcat and New Yorkers: yesterday while eating my breakfast, my wife started laughing while reading the weddings in the Style section. One of the brides-to-be is a consultant for Pre-K kids as to which pre-school to go to. Really? I love your city, but, this seems a bit over the top.

crosspalms said...

Lucky us in Chicago, our Bike to Work Week doesn't start till June 13.

Saw something interesting last week. A guy used the protected bike lane to move a car from one parking lot to another about 50 yards away. If he'd used the street, he'd have been going the wrong way (it's a one-way street). If he'd used the sidewalk he'd have saved a couple of seconds, but I guess he has standards.

Man's Best Friend, Indeed. said...

If that Rope Trap was on a route Leroy takes frequently; no one thinks Leroy's dog might have set it, do they?

DB said...

Oh, and I love the elevator picture. The older guy in the navy suit is going in for a feel.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame. said...

dnk@1244 "Harry Caray". He must be turning over in his grave.

Comment deleted said...

There's nothing like an all-Anonymous podium to start the week on an absurd note.

Flyover BC said...

I bet the inscrutable Mr. Singh didn't lose 40% of business. He just quit entering his cash receipts into the ledger. What we really need to know is if his purchases also dropped accordingly.

Roille Figners said...

Classic tripe from the Birdcage Liner of Record. Not to badmouth tripe, since it's fairly nutritious if prepared right. Member when the Times (RIP) also said, rather shriekingly, that Saddam had WMDs?

The King of Park Slope said...

That "jump rope" as you call it is obviously an artisanal snare. I'm sure its just one in a series comprising an urban trap line for capturing beavers and cougars and such.

dnk said...

TakeMeOutToTheBallgame@1:03

I shouldn't have included him amongst such dubious company.

My cousin and I used to go to Wrigley as kids. Mr. Caray was a beloved hero.

Spokey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spokey said...

"For more than a decade . . ."

"has owned the . . . for 20 years"

I gotta go back to school. I woulda thought that should be "For more than a score of years . . ."

Maybe Lincoln should have said "Four decades and"




geez I can't even see the captcha let alone type it. Ah, the next one is visible 227 32349686 and barely readable

d28 said...

I've been working at a company in CA with free colorful dutch bikes all over their campus. Its great! I get to ride every day, and I've yet to be hit by a driverless vehicle :)

Bama Phred said...

I wonder what the reaction would be if someone where to anchor and tension a 1/2" wire rope for a car snare? I'm sure it wouldn't be no criminality, nothing to see here, move along. Just something for the low riders to hop over.

BikeSnobNYC said...

d28,

Yes, but do you take one of those Evil Shuttle Buses of Evil from San Francisco to get there?

--Wildcat Rock Machine

leroy said...

Saturday night, I parked the car that I own in the garage under the Company-that-must-not-be-named across from the Chelsea Market and next to Messrs. Kraus's and Singh's establishments.

Three hours for $50.

After that, who could afford an "I Love Chelsea" dog sweater and a plate of chana bhaji?

I mean other than my dog whose finances I've never quite understood.

(He should know better than to attend a Clinton fund raiser with curry breath and an I Love Chelsea sweater.)

mikeweb said...

leroy,

I saw notice of your dust up with a car door last week. I hope any bumps and bruises are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

why does BSNY hate Mr Zing?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Leroy,

We are oddly, and yet paradoxically, in synch!

On Saturday morning I parked The Car That I Own a short walk from the Company-That-Must-Not-Be-Named, on the street, all day, for nothing.

After saving so much money I felt so flush that, instead of a humble Indian feast, I splurged at a restaurant.

Maybe driving does support local business owners...just not Mr. Singh, it would seem.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

PS: I was also at one time an occasional Barking Zoo customer, but then I left the neighborhood. And then the dog died.

CommentorBot9000 said...

2.5+/- hours and no one has made a Barking Zoo / barking spider comment.

ge said...

DB, yeah I noticed too. In the panic of fleeing the gas attack, he figures he might get away with it unnoticed. Pretty quick thinking for an old guy.

Not only Singh, but according to captcha, "nhingses war" too.

wishiwasmerckx said...

...and then the dog died, and was laid to rest in a crypt right next to Vito the helper monkey. A traumatic day for the 17 kids, indeed.

Roille Figners said...

Bikes ARE a symbol of gentrification -- if you're homeless. "This neighborhood used to be accessible. Now just look at these pretentious rich douchebags with their $200 bikes. What's next... a TACO BELL!?!?!?!?!"

dancesonpedals said...

one can never get too many untermyer park references

Mr Plow said...

I already am wrong all the time. Just ask my wife.
Thank you all for coming. Good night!

1904 Cadardi said...

I was coaxed into entering a Gran Fondo and need the advice of friends. Since I'm a cyclist and don't have any of those, it falls to the esteemed commenterati.

As a former/retired/washed-up racer do I go full Fred and shave the legs or ride in wookie mode?

Roille Figners said...

It'd be cool if like, a neighborhood was full of millionaires, but then all the BILLIONAIRES started buying up property and the millionaires were forced out. And they'd be like "I remember when you used to be able to get a bhajee for just $30 around here."

Speaking of that, if you're in an upscale neighborhood like Singh is now, you raise your prices and upscale your shit from its current crappy-looking cockroach-ridden state, or you move somewhere cheaper beyatch!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Roille Figners,

That's pretty much exactly what's happening in Manhattan, as David Byrne would be happy to tell you.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

balls™ said...

1904-
Leave your legs hairy, but shave your balls and tell everybody you meet. That way, you'll finish the ride with no more friends than you started with, giving you time to ride instead of having to be social.

Conrad said...

The best part about the cats reward thing is that Geezer Butler is somehow involved with the reward money.

The Scissor Sisters said...

This pussy-on-pussy crime has to stop!

dancesonpedals said...

Cotardi- I could advise you either way on this..either go complete yosemite sam on'em (no bathing or shaving for a week)..or remove all body hair &leave no doubt about itat the start line..half measures are no damn good...Fred's gotta do what a Fred's gotta do

ge said...

1904 - what's the refund policy?

DB said...

1904:
It's okay to Fred-it-up occasionally as long as you're not taking it seriously.
Shave 'em, wax 'em, put a high gloss on 'em.

BikeSnobNYC said...

1904 Cadardi,

I say get some electric clippers and do a half-assed trim.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Anonymous said...

@Commbot 2:10

There is a "pub" in my town named "the barking spider". After ariving there one night last year and learning that there is NOTHING to lock a bike to, my girl and i peeked inside, saw the place was empty (3 other patrons) and pushed our bikes inside and off to an empty corner. We were prompty told our bikes could not be inside to which i made the argument that there was no parking outside. The establishment did not care and so the lost my patronage. Moral of the story is that the Barking Spider is a really shitty place...

leroy said...

Mikeweb -- Thanks, I'm mending fine. A couple of days after the crash, a faint facial marking emerged that looks like a prison tattoo of tears. I'll be sorry to see it go. (But I won't miss my dog's Folsom Prison Blues jokes. I didn't shoot anyone in Reno. I've never been to Reno.)

BSNYC -- I would have parked on the street, like I usually do in that neighborhood in the summer, but we were running late. If I'd ridden a bike, it would have taken a lot less time to get there, parking would not have been an issue, and I would have arrived in a better mood.

1904 Cadardi -- Been there, wondered that. Go Full Fred. Trust me. One of the benefits of reaching a certain age as a rider is that you are exempt from convention and can dress/depiliate accordingly.

leroy said...

Correction: By Full Fred I meant don't shave (as in hairy legged Fred equals guy in kit with hairy legs).

Corn rowing any bodily hair also intimidates opponents.

Roille Figners said...

The ____ing [Anything] is usually a shitty place.

Also anything runcible. Runcibility generally correlates well with shittiness.

Bama Phred said...

Of course, you could just get a cheap wig, stuff it "down there", and let the ends stick out your shorts. Nobody is going to worry about your legs then. Stay hairy my friend.

Anonymous said...

Hey, where's babbles? She's the reason I read this tripe in the first place (no offence WCRM).

Anonymous said...

Best option: 3 day stubble on the legs. Will confuse and dismay both hairy and hairless opponents.

Blog Drafter said...

Rollie @ 4:28:

Runcible indeed. I am in awe. You, sir, are a wordsmith.

Roille Figners said...

Why theankyeeew, though of course this is undeserved since I don't actually know what "runcible" means. I assume they explain it to you at the Nyack city line as you're publicly urinating on a shrubbery, but alas, I have never been further north than Palisades, where I went to visit my rich-ass friend.

Comment deleted said...

Seaman "Pig" Bodine could tell you a thing or two about runcible spoons, Slothrop.

Anonymous said...

What is this Barking Pig establishment?

My guess is it's an adult club.

Either geo-block this blog so as to restrict it to the few readers residing in the neighbourhood of the Larking Hampster, or detail the nature of the premises so that the entire readership may follow the conversation.

d28 said...

Wildcat Rock Machine,

I'm working here temporarily, but if I decide to stay permanently, I'll plan on living close enough to bike to work every day. There are showers and towels in every building, and dedicated lockers for "self powered commuters". For those who need added Smugness they will donate to a charity on your behalf each time you bike to work.

Many people around SF blame those buses for the high rents. I don't see the problem if it keeps more cars off the road. I'd be interested in reading your take on them!

Dooth said...

Can't have driverless cars on the road without riderless bikes!

Serial Retrogrouch said...

That means you can give the driver the finger and easily sprint away

...i thought they are driverless cars.

Anonymous said...

cats love tylenol

David said...

"But he lost 40 percent of his business when the city created bike lanes along Ninth Avenue."
I find that incredibly unlikely. If any small business owner, especially a restaurant, lost 40% of REVENUE, they would likely lose any margin whatsoever that they had and be in arrears on rent immediately. More likely he notices fewer cabbies eating there and pulled a number out of his ass.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lumpen Fredetariat said...

The evil white SF buses of our tech overlords go by my house every morning. They have bike racks on the back, but I have yet to see a bike on one. Good old Caltrain though, is stuffed with bikes heading down to Mountain View and Palo Alto

Anonymous said...

I got my kid 2 bikes for 5 bucks at a garage sale. They spent an upstate winter outside and still work fine. She just has to pedal to go down hill.

1904 Cadardi said...

Thanks for all the hairodynamic advice. I ordered a king size bottle of Veet. My plan is to start with the gentlemans area and work my way out from there.

babble on said...

I'm here! Well, if hospitals count as here, that is. We topped 50km/ hr on the vet ride yesterday when a few of us crashed. Broke my clavicle and completely shattered my scapula. Scheduled for surgery tomorrow though they said there is nothing they can so for the scapula. /(

JLRB said...

Shit Babble - sorry to see that. I hope the surgery goes well.

Comment deleted said...

Oh no! Heal well, Babs! Hope you're not in too much pain.

babble on said...

OMG actually the pain is unbelievable. But at least I am alive. And my MIPS helmet did the trick. It was bashed in but I didn't suffer a concussion.

Travis said...

God i love bikes lol dirt not just riding, also love dirt bike games :P

Vlad said...

This just in: brain surgeon says helments are actually useless.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10866273/Cycle-helmets-are-useless-says-brain-surgeon.html#source=refresh
Actually, this was something we all suspected long ago, but I shared it nevertheless.

ce said...

Clavicle, scapula, yeah yeah, but what about those legs? Tell me the legs are OK!

Mend well babble on

mikeweb said...

babble dear, I hope you mend up soon.

And be more careful - we don't want anything to happen to that kooky head of yours.

Anonymous said...

KATHRYN ANNE SWEENEY likes to finger herself a bit too much. Literarily.

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