(Early time trial helment.)
It's news to nobody that fixies and singlespeeds entered the mainstream popular culture ages ago. Even Walmart's been selling them since 2010, which gives America's favorite big-box retailer more "street cred" than 50% of the riders you'll find on the Williamsburg Bridge. Nevertheless, for those of us who are of a certain age (by which I mean old) it's still noteworthy when references to such bikes surface in unlikely places.
Therefore, being old, I was surprised when an even older Jerry Seinfeld went on an anti-singlespeed rant on the latest episode of "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee:"
"Why are one-speed bikes in fashion? They're so stupid. They're stupid! Just a stupid bike. It's like, 'It's a hill, I'm going up, I'm going down, I want to go faster, I want to go slower.' Why would I go back to before they invented gears?"--Jerry Seinfeld
Just to give you a little bit of context, Seinfeld said the above while driving around Portland in an old Saab with Fred Armisen of "Portlandia." Now, it should be noted that Seinfeld is a closet Fred who rides a Pinarello, and therefore entitled to make fun of cyclists:
A sleek Pinarello racing bicycle, which Seinfeld rides around town, stood against a wall. “It’s very addictive, that feeling of gliding through the city,” he said.
However, what disappointed me is that Seinfeld is a master of irony, yet he apparently missed the irony of ranting about singlespeeds while driving around in a car with a two-stroke motor about which he says the following:
"The thing that’s cool about a two-stroke is there’s no valves, you mix the oil and the gas, it sounds weird, it feels weird, it runs weird…if you don’t like weird, Saab is not for you."
Isn't mixing oil and gas when you could be driving a four-stroke instead pretty much exactly the same thing as riding a singlespeed or fixed-gear instead of a bike you can shift?
The answer, of course, is "Yes. Yes it is."
Meanwhile, as Seinfeld drives around Portland doing his "What's the deal with fixies?" routine, Paris is going "balls out" to be more bike-friendly:
The mayor also said that the number of cycle lanes would be "doubled by 2020" as part of a €100 million ($A147 million) bike development plan, an investment again in stark contrast to Sydney's controversial cycleways programme.
Not only that, but they may be implementing an electric bike share program:
She said she also wanted to roll out a system of electric-powered bikes along the same lines as the city's popular Vélib' bike share network.
Hey, I'm a bit frightened of e-bikes, but at least they're trying something new with their bike share system. Here in New York the people at Citi Bike just nag you about wearing a helment:
If you are worried about helmet hair going into work- don’t worry. Just tell your co-workers, “I woke up like this.” #Citibike #helmetfirst
— Citi Bike (@CitibikeNYC) December 8, 2014
Okay, three things:
1) If you look like crap, you look like crap. What's the difference why?
2) If you nevertheless feel compelled to give an excuse for your slovenly appearance at work, "I just rolled out of bed" is not a good one. All it says is that you don't give a shit about your job, and it's bound to bite you in the ass at your next review.
3) If you're so worried about your stupid hair then just skip the helment. You're riding slowly for 15 minutes on a 50lb bike. You'll be just fine. Don't be such a goddamn "woosie" for fuck's sake. #shittybike #helmentschmelment
Also, your helment is not going to save you when you're ground up in the bike lane by the Hub Spikes of Death:
Which were photographed by a reader:
Who referred to them as "Mad Max spikes" and asked if I knew "the proper channel for complaining about this," which is kind of adorable. After all, this is the city where it's perfectly legal to run over children in crosswalks, so why would anybody do anything about some pointy lug nuts?
Also, I'm not familiar enough with the Mad Max movies to offer any useful insight, though by way of protection I'd suggest massive earrings, revealing chain mail, and a crossbow:
Speaking of advocacy, while perusing the Twitter I noticed the following infographic:
I fucking hate infographics. So a car spends 96% of its time parked? So what? Nearly everything we own spends the vast majority of its time not being used, including bicycles. If I only shower once a day for 15 minutes does that mean I need to tear out my freaking bathtub?* Are we supposed to go back to communal baths now? The same thing goes for the stupid "energy flow" chart. Aerodynamics, rolling resistance, transmission losses...these things apply to pretty much anything with wheels. Isn't that all just physics? Basically all this says is that driving is not teleportation.
*[Disclaimer: Blogger showers far less frequently than this.]
Sure, I get what they're trying to do here, but as far as I'm concerned the only meaningful automotive infographic would be this one:
The rest is just smugness.
Anyway, infographics aren't going to convince people to stop driving. The truth is that people are very creative when it comes for finding an excuse not to ride a bike. I'm sure you've heard them: "The helment messes up my hair;" "It's too cold where I live;" and of course the old tried-and-true "I might get killed by the Mob" routine:
The mayor, Ignazio Marino, said that Rome’s top security official had urged him on Thursday to stop cycling and to use a limousine with a security detail because the gangsters had said in the intercepted conversations that he was an obstacle to maintaining their system for obtaining rigged contracts to service refugee centers, Roma camps and other municipal operations.
Sorry, I'm not buying it. I've got two words for the mayor, and they are "armored recumbent:"
It's both anonymous and bulletproof.
How can you go wrong?