Monday, February 16, 2015

Let's Start a (Class) War!

When you're a seasoned cyclist you always incorporate a little reconnaissance into even the shortest ride, and the other day I noticed that the pitter-patter of suburban feet had packed the snow on my favorite trail quite nicely:


So I made a mental note to return on one of those all-terrain-style bicycles, which I did this past weekend:


It was quite pleasant, and the trees sheltered me from the winter winds, though the stark frozen landscape is beginning to take its toll on my psyche:


Forget fat bikes--I may have to invest in a cloak and a cockpit crow for maximum morbidity:


Vision Zero...degrees.

Speaking of Vision Zero, a 15 year-old girl may lose her leg after she was hit by a bus while crossing the street with the right of way:



Under a new law, it is now a misdemeanor for a driver to strike a cyclist or pedestrian with the right of way (crazy, right?), and so the police gave the bus driver a desk appearance ticket:

De Jesus, 58, who remained at the scene, was arrested and given a desk appearance ticket under the city’s new right-of-way law. Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero traffic-safety campaign stiffened the violation to a misdemeanor in August for drivers who injure pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way.

This angered the driver's union, who threatened a "work slowdown:"

Union officials were outraged by his arrest.

“We drive for a living on the busiest streets in America,” said J.P. Patafio of Transport Workers Union Local 100. “The law of averages has it we’re going to get into an accident.”

Patafio said De Jesus is a 29-year veteran with an impeccable record. He was hospitalized for emotional trauma after hitting the girl.

Patafio threatened a work slowdown, saying he could tell bus drivers not to move an inch if a pedestrian is anywhere in a crosswalk.

“If they’re going to apply the letter of the law, we’re going to apply the letter of the law — and traffic ain’t going to be moving very fast,” Patafio said. “We have to protect our operators from being arrested.”

Victim-blaming?  Work slowdowns?  Where have we heard all this before?

The union also turned its anger towards the city's safe streets advocates, and in so doing went right for the "pants yabbies:"

“MTA bus drivers struck and killed nine pedestrians last year, and eight of those cases involved a driver failing to yield while making a turn,” said Paul Steely White, head of Transportation Alternatives. “MTA bus operators must exercise due care.”

TWU Local 100 president John Samuelsen blasted White, calling him a “phony progressive intellectual jackass” for praising the bus driver’s arrest.

Those are fighting words, because here in America there is no greater insult than calling someone an "intellectual."  See, in American English "intellectual" doesn't mean "given to study, reflection, and speculation."  What it means is "guy who makes artisanal pancakes in his underpants:"



BATTER UP I usually wake up at 6:30, 7. Generally I’ll make some coffee. I’ll get some pancake batter going. That’s our ritual even on weekdays, to make pancakes. I have a constant sourdough culture that I always keep out on the counter, and I feed it pretty much every day. You can make bread; you can make pancakes. I make pizza with it.

By the way, in addition to being an advocate, White is also a born-again Fred:

SPANDEX BALLET I do wear the spandex, for better or for worse — and the older I get, for worse. The last couple years I’ve been on a racing team. Last year I was on Siggi’s, and this past year I joined Dave Jordan Racing. I generally put on a Dave Jordan racing kit or a Siggi’s racing kit. It’s an Icelandic yogurt company.

MEETUP We’ll go to Prospect Park at 8 or 9 a.m. I’ll do six or seven laps. Or if I’m going to Piermont or Nyack I’ll usually meet those guys by the George Washington Bridge at 8. I try to be back from those rides around noon or so.

It's noteworthy that, after years of bicycle advocacy, the guy has been sucked into Fred-dom.  Usually it works the other way around, and erstwhile racers succumb to upright cycling and smugness.  The lesson here is to beware the addictive properties of the Crabon, especially during those vulnerable middle-age years.

Anyway, in addition to the "intellectual" quip, the union continued the class war tactic on their Twitter feed:


This sort of rhetoric always disappoints me.  It's so transparent!  Hey, I'm as "bridge and tunnel" as they come (the obsolescence of the term notwithstanding given what's happening to Brooklyn and Queens).  Therefore, it's very easy for me to laugh at people who keep a "constant sourdough culture" out on the counter, or who pen "epic" blog posts about how the ticket they received is the embodiment of all the ills of society, or who boast about their lack of car ownership.  I also make frequent use of buses and trains and am very grateful to the people who schlep my ass around town, especially when it's freezing cold outside.

At the same time, I also subscribe to certain radical ideas, such as that someone with a union job should still have some degree of accountability after someone dies or a kid's leg is crushed, and that even city bus drivers are not infallible.

But of course this is New York City, so either you're with the unions, or else you're with the brunching hipster transplants who are sourdoughing the working class out of existence:

By way of underscoring the absurdity of this construct (after all, the union "tweeter" seems suspiciously familiar with the rituals of brunch), I issued forth a "tweet," to which I received the following reply:

Ooh, this guy's good.

Though according to the Internet their communications director did go to Wesleyan.

Or should I say Wuss-leyan?

DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE???

Ultimately, the upshot of all this is twofold:



Firstly, the union believes that the whole Vision Zero idea (which is basically that nobody should run anybody else over) does not apply to bus drivers:

This law was meant to target deliberately reckless drivers on the streets of NYC. When the City Council passed this law, it was not intended to go after Bus Operators. Indeed, an exemption was built into the law for those “engaged in work on behalf of the City, the state of New York…." 

Secondly, by way of expressing their outrage, they're going to drive really, really safely now:

Now we must respond appropriately, recognizing that we are being disgracefully and unfairly scapegoated and targeted.  It is imperative that we immediately move to defend our livelihoods and protect ourselves against these attacks.   Therefore, we MUST Yield/Stop “when a pedestrian or bicyclist has the right of way.”  If there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk, Yield/Stop your bus until they are on the sidewalk. We must exercise extreme caution at intersections and on roadways.

Do not move your bus until all is clear.  It you do not make your schedule, so be it.  If traffic backs up as you await the ability to make an unquestionably "safe" left turn, so be it. If the bosses are displeased, so be it.Do not jeopardize your future for the sake of NYC Transit's on time bus performance. And if you are pressured or threatened by supervision for taking these necessarysteps, notify your union representative immediately.

Uh, right.  That'll show 'em.

And yes, none of this is to say the union doesn't deserve credit for all the hard work they do:
It's merely to say all of this is pretty silly, since everybody involved in all of this is more or less on the same side.

Lastly, speaking of municipal matters, London Mayor Boris Johnson recently visited with New York City Mayor Bill "Thanks" de Blasio:


(There's sort of a nationalistic "69" going on there with the flags.)

Johnson told de Blasio about the London Underline idea, which involves opening disused subway tunnels to cyclists:


And in turn de Blasio told Johnson about his plan to route cyclists through active subway tunnels:


Both plans have their advantages and their drawbacks.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frost!

herzogone said...

Podium!

GreySpoke said...

podium

Anonymous said...

Top 5!

Mr. Pedantic said...

"There's sort of a nationalistic "69" going on there with the flats."

First to point out typo.

Anonymous said...

I am Fred.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the third rail can soup up those electric fat bikes?

Bryan said...

stretching out...in the top 10. whatevs. going to enjoy reading this one after our staff meeting (aka...i hope no one notices me napping)

Anonymous said...

Top diez!

Chief said...

Yes top ten!!

JB said...

You should have ridden a fat bike. Very dangerous!

babble on said...

Wham is the party celebrating the new transit directive?

Gill Bates said...

Anyone interested in investing in a smokeable yoga pants startup? 50% Indica 50% Sativa. The profit projections are through the roof DUDES.

Anonymous said...

You folks down in our (Canada's) nether regions need to scrap that pesky Constitution thing you're saddled with. It makes every issue black and white (!), yes or no, no room for reasonable compromise or negotiation. As cyclists assert that right of way over that semi. As bus drivers refuse to advance the bus if anyone else is on the road. Passengers vs drivers vs cyclists vs little girls under bus wheels. Sigh......

Billy said...

Safety comes before the schedule, and if someone tells you otherwise, report them?

That's *exactly* what I want them to do! How do I get the Boston MBTA union to issue this same message to their workers?

Why has this same message not also come down from the transit authority management well before now?

I have the exact same problem with cabbies and other people who drive for their jobs. Not killing people with your vehicle takes precedence. But their incentive structure doesn't reflect that basic principle.

Now the really fun part about buses actually yielding to people in crosswalks is that the douchebags in their Hyundais behind them will honk, get angry, then try to zoom around the bus and kill or maim the person the bus had stopped for. Can we get that upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony? I bet it doesn't even require a law, just for the driver to be charged with something appropriate, like reckless endangerment.

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

Made it into the top twenny. Always aspire for mediocrity.

Reggie said...

So NYC cops and bus drivers act all petulant and throw a hissy fit when they're not allowed to kill and maim with impunity? NYC is the best (sarcasm, it's a dehumanizing shithole).
Great PR department there, bus union reps. Antagonize the brunches/transplant/gentrification hipsters, also known as "the only people dumb enough to move to New York."

Anonymous said...

Toppus XX?

Freddy Murcks said...

How can you be posting today? It's a holiday.

The Butlins Redcoats said...

Freddy, not just posting, but a parochial Twitter war on Pursidents' Day. Is this what your founding fathers fought and died for, I ask you?

If you lost your short term memory how would you know? said...

****ATTENTION ALL CAT 7 RACERS****

Team L-DOPA 2015 race schedule is posted. Looks like the 'Cat 7 Intergallactic Championship' will be contested in taCOMA this year. A major rules change disallows handlebar mounted bongs for the first time, ever! Gasmask Bongs are still cool though.

Bryan said...

So, I would prefer drivers of huge ass busses weighing tons to have to follow the letter of the law, and be held accountable if they break it, just like every motorist is supposed to do. There is no reason not to yield to pedestrians, just to make a little extra time.

McFly said...

"There are no sides. There are just players."-- Raymond Reddington

I got the ol' pancake batter going on Valentine's morn'.

Wouldn't the MTA "slowing down" be a good thing?

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

Living and riding ,out here on Wrong Island, I tend to get my local info from the worst periodical in the land, Newsday.
The daily reports on the carnage occuring on our local highways is astounding! Daily reports of aggresive driving, drunken driving, hit and run (and hide) are a large part of what I read on a daily basis. If you really want tobe terrified, however, read the comments form the locals, and the insinuations that, if you are not in a car, you should not be on the road. No extension of right of way to pedestrians. Much worse out here than in NYC. Vehicular speeds are much higher, as distraction level, soccer moms, inexperienced drivers, all manner of lunacy. It is not big news that somebody was run down by a motorist, but the big story is , the driver actually stayed on the scene after the accident.

Freddy Murcks said...

What Bryan @10:52 said.

PotbellyJoe said...

"Maybe consider too, that we're also the union that organized bikeshare workers across the U.S., so maybe we're not the enemy of bicyclists?"

"I'm not transportationist. I have a friend who bikes."

Anonymous said...

Wow, that last quip about the active subway tunnels was hilarious :-D

... but can someone explain to me the current colloquial use(s) of the word sourdough/sourdoughing in today's modern culture and society? I feel like I heard this just the other day in some movie or tv show, and I don't quite get it. (Urban Dictionary didn't seem much help; just sorta gross and random as usual.)

Wtf is a sourdough, or to sourdough? I feel so out of touch...

Anonymous said...

De Blasio's underground plan does have its merits! The rats could clean up the mess.

cycle

Peter Lichfield said...

That TWU guy is pretty funny though.

Bus Snob NYC?

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

CKPT CROW

trama said...

Pffft. I got dozens of unique yeasty moldy cultures going on my kitchen counter/sink area.

BamaPhred said...

What Pathetic Old Cyclist said.

DB said...

Lance just fined 10million$ for lying in SCA case.

Freddy Murcks said...

DB @2:07 said... Lance just fined 10million$ for lying in SCA case.

Turns out that in some cases being a complete dickhead is really expensive. At this rate, Lancey Pants is going to be a pauper.

bieks said...

After reviewing that photo of the bus, I'm fairly certain that hitting the girl did not keep the bus on schedule. I'm having a hard time understanding their argument.

It's hard enough understanding how bus schedules hold more value than lives, but based on that logic they would have the girl arrested for delaying the bus and charged with a capital crime.

Anonymous said...

And in lance news - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2366522-lance-armstrong-to-pay-10-million-to-sca-promotions-over-tour-de-france-bonuses?utm_source=cnn.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=editorial#articles/2366522-lance-armstrong-to-pay-10-million-to-sca-promotions-over-tour-de-france-bonuses

dockworker said...

It's just leaving a bunch of sourdough dough on the counter. You take some off to bake, then "feed it" with some more flour and water.

The idea is the sourdough flavor becomes stronger over time. It does up to a point.

Gotta watch the mold. What makes carbon dioxide, the rise, also makes mold happy. You can bake moldy dough just fine, but the flavor is off and then your starter is over.

Starter is a nice way to intensify yeast breads.

I'm not sure why this is so fascinating to these trust fund ponces. It reminds me of the Hamlet at Versailles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hameau_de_la_Reine
Look at me! I'm doing commoner's work baking bread!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it has ever occurred to Lance, that he could…just fire his “army” of attorneys; graciously and without self-vindication give back ALL the money he stole; sincerely apologize to EVERYONE for lying, cheating and harrassing; move himself and his family into a moderate domicile; STOP being a COLOSSAL AS* HOL*; and write The Book: “Here’s what REALLY happened.” Hell, I’d buy it and read it!

leroy said...

My dog missed the TWU Local 100 kerfuffle.

He was brunching without me. http://twitter.com/leroys_dog/status/567022771038085120/photo/1

Of course, he's no stranger to Draconian laws. He recalls sampling a 1998 Montrachet al fresco some years back, removing the bottle from its brown paper bag, and receiving a desk appearance ticket for an open container violation.

Oh the indignity.


leroy said...

My dog's brunch here.

Could be worse. Could be the dog's dinner.

Angry Beaver in Mirimichi said...

The mayor if Fish & Chipsville looks a lot like Donald Trump, excuse me, I meant "The Donald", except he has a better rug.

The Underground Railroad said...

Subways are already underground, how about the cars and buses join them in co-existence tunnels. Bikes can have the streets.

Anonymous said...

All the buses in NYC slowing down and totally respecting pedestrian right-of-way, and pissing off all the motorists? Hell Yeah! It is a Dream Come True! Much better than the NYC police cutting down on tickets with no effect on real crime.

"So, I would prefer drivers of huge ass busses weighing tons to have to follow the letter of the law,"
"Wouldn't the MTA "slowing down" be a good thing?"

I concur.

The Company You Keep said...

Lance won the TDF 7 times. Except for a couple of riders, the other guys who were photographed on the champion's podium with him in Paris have been exposed as dopers. If you went back to those photographs and Photoshopped out the other dopers some years their would be no one on the podium. Not defending Lance in any way shape or form, just say'n.

wishiwasmerckx said...

The company you keep: They looked at that issue when determining whether to advance lower-placed finishers or simply leave those 7 years vacant without a TdF winner. ASO decided on the latter because there were some years when you had to go all the way back to 11th place to find a rider never implicated in a doping scandal.

True fact.

DB said...

Leslie Gore, RIP.

DB said...

Leroy's Dog:
Kareoke Night or Westminster Kennel Club party?
Bean dip?

leroy said...

DB -- not sure. But caffeinated canine in four mimosa morning shouldn't operate heavy machinery or Twitter account.

Greg Lemond is Crazier than a Loon said...



Company keeper here is a visual aid.

Dooth said...

I know a retired NYC bus driver who's a nice guy, and crazy behind the wheel. But a heckuva good driver. Still, he's crazy enough to wear shorts year round; even today, in single digit weather, he's rocking them shorts.
I also know a current NYC bus driver who's honest and hard-working. Considering the stories they've told me about the shit they've had to put with on the job, I can see why those Union leaders are so fiercely protective, albeit a bit unhinged.

dop said...

'both plans have their advantages and drawbacks'

Harumph. A typical false equivalence foisted upon us by a mealy-mouthed media

Bogusboy said...

Wow. Those comments don't play right into stereotypes of northeastern union goons at all, do they?

So remind me, why is it that you want to live in NY?

Stuart said...

I can't believe that stupid union guy! Now he's telling the bus drivers to be absolutely sure it's safe to drive over a crosswalk by waiting until there are no pedestrians in it? What did they do before, try to estimate whether their bus could dash across the crosswalk before the pedestrian got close enough? Try to fit the bus in the gap between two pedestrians? The class warfare crap is straight from the gutter too.

Yeah Cleveland! said...

Just checking...

BamaPhred said...

The Twitter insults exchanged with the TWU fail to live up to the Ralph and Alice Kramden heritage.
I see Westminster failed to recognize the Brooklyn Schnorrer. Well, Leroy there's always next year.

Anonymous said...

Snob, your winter ride seems nice but how about this upstate guy going to Mt Marcy from Syracuse...Today. http://www.syracuse.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2015/02/manlius_to_marcy_caz_fitness_coachs_cyclingsnowshoe_fundraising_trek_begins_in_s.html

Anonymous said...

Lance is the greatest bicycle racer of his time. After seven wins and if the other dopers were on the same formula that settles it.ok maybe their doctor su cked that s not his fault

Not a New Yorker said...

How can a Londoner be named Boris? Is he Russian? London didn't move did it?

Wheelman said...

This might seem strange on this blog, but I have a comment relating to bicycles. Why are some mountain bike rims quite wide with accomodations for Schrader valves whilst others are narrower with Presta preferences? If you run fat tires, why not use wide rims?

leroy said...

My dog just texted me from the Westminster Kennel Club after party.

Three of his exes showed up.

Awkward.

But he thinks he saw Stefan.

Anonymous said...

Last place

Red Star Cycles said...

"If they’re going to apply the letter of the law, we’re going to apply the letter of the law..."
Good God!! What sort of a land would that lead to?