There are a lot of reasons why we're number one: our incrementally expanding bike infrastructure; our courteous police department; our mindful drivers... Without a doubt though our greatest asset as a cycling city is our enlightened media:
Consider the front page of yesterday's New York Post, which I'm not going to link to because fuck 'em. Basically they're now following the so-called "killer cyclist" who collided with a pedestrian in Central Park and waiting for him to screw up, which he eventually did (well, sort of), much to the delight of Rupert Murdoch's ball-ticklers.
So what did he do?
He ran a red light while carrying his kid on his bike:
The saxophonist slowed down as he approached a red light on Park Avenue at East 118th Street — but blew through the signal rather than wait for it to turn green.
Okay. This guy? Not a fan. He hit a woman while riding his bike in Central Park and she died as a result. Nobody seems to know for sure how fast he was going or who had the light but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter. It's a park. Even if you're going 5mph and you hit somebody you were going too goddamn fast. Furthermore, the fact that he wasn't charged doesn't necessarily absolve him, because this is New York City, and we fail to charge drivers who kill people on nearly a daily basis.
All of the above notwithstanding, what the Post is doing here is disgusting. First of all, read the quote above and tell me how he could have "slowed down as he approached a red light" and then "blew through the signal." This defies physics. You can't slow and then blow. Everybody knows that--especially people who work for the Post, because Rupert Murdoch is constantly reminding them of this while they're fellating him.
("Don't slow, blow!," admonishes Murdoch as he pushes an employee's head downward.)
Secondly, when has the Post ever followed a motorist who's killed somebody? Granted, I realize there's a practical reason for this, which is that last year motorists killed 178 cyclists and pedestrians in New York City. Certainly the Post can't follow all these drivers. It's simple mathematics. After all, if everyone's busy chasing drivers then who's left to blow Murdoch?
("Where is everyone?!? I need a blowie here!!!")
Thirdly--and this is the big one--they put a great big picture of this guy's kid on the front page! Just imagine this kid walking past a deli and asking his father why he's on the front of the newspaper. I don't care what this guy did, just thinking about that kid having to experience that is fucking heartbreaking--and I'd think the same thing if his father had killed someone with a car or a plane or even a goddamn steamroller for that matter.
Then, to top it all off, these lowlives at the Post publish were the kid goes to school!
He rode on the sidewalk on [deleted], between [deleted], and then dropped off his young son at the [deleted].
That's just sick.
By the way, I'm sure that was quite the two-wheeled homicidal death rampage when he rode his bike onto the sidewalk in front of his kid's school, which I do all the goddamn time when I drop my own kid off, much to the delight of his classmates.
And how about that light-running? You know, the one where he did the ol' "slow-to-blow?" Well, the Post includes a video of it (which is remarkably audacious as it obviates pretty much every word of the article) and here's what happened. First, he slowly approaches the light:
Then he comes to a complete stop and puts his foot down:
Then he waits for traffic to pass:
Then, when there's no more traffic (or pedestrians) he slowly resumes riding:
And the light turns green like two seconds later:
So basically, when the coast was clear he jumped the light by a couple seconds, which is understandable. Not only is he BEING FOLLOWED BY A REPORTER, but I'd also argue this is sometimes safer than waiting for the green, owing to the addled motorist dickbags waiting behind you in pole position:
("Did someone say 'pole position?' I'll position my pole in your face, mate!")
Anyway, I had to know what kind of person follows a kid to school and then publishes a picture of him on the front page of a newspaper in a city of 8 million-plus people, so I used a popular search engine, typed the reporter's name into it, and found this:
Altoona native and former boxer Kevin Fasick tells some tough tales as a New York Post staff reporter.
Yep, just a small town hack from Palookaville trying to make it in the big city. And to be fair, he does tell some tough tales:
"As far as how I deal with the tragedy I often encounter on my job, on some level you have to compartmentalize it for your own sanity," he wrote in an email. "But the sadness often sticks with you and you have to deal with that as part of the job. I did a story of a little girl, 12-year-old Nicole Suriel, who drowned on a class trip. I spent a couple of hours in her parents' apartment.
"The father was telling us about his little girl, getting on the computer and getting photos for the photographer, while the mom stayed in the bedroom and wailed in grief. That was a long day and at the end of it, it hit me pretty hard."
Which is another way of saying he's a vulture who feeds on human tragedy:
He tells them, "You're a human being first, and what's going to make you a good reporter is by being a good human being. What we want to do is honor their loved one who may have been murdered, killed in a car wreck, died in fire, what have you. We're there to tell their stories."
Presumably then he was honoring the victim of the Central Park tragedy by stalking this guy's kid. Of course, given his concern for the victim, you may be wondering why he doesn't do the same thing to drivers. Well, the answer is simple: convenience. See, the "killer cyclist" and the reporter both live in the same neighborhood, so all he has to do is roll out of bed and start stalkin'. As for the other stories he relentlessly pursues in the service of justice, here's just a smattering:
Yeah, he's the Woodward and Bernstein of overpriced hot dogs.
And what of the New York Times? They're better than the Post, right? Well, sure, but that doesn't mean their editorial department is immune to a little implicit victim-blaming. Consider this horrible story:
And before anything else, let's look at the headline:
Wait a minute. The car was fleeing the court police? Is the driver not responsible? Was it one of those new Google self-fleeing cars?
Okay, so they try to pull the driver over (sorry, they try to pull the car over, I sometimes forget that in America a driver is just a hapless passenger with no culpability who happens to be sitting in front of a steering wheel at a given moment), the Apple iFlee protocol kicks in, and the Mercedes (again, not the driver, the Mercedes) hits the Cannondale (this is important why?), on top of which happens to be sitting a neuroscientist:
The hectic getaway killed Sergei Musatov, 42, an assistant professor of neuroscience in neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, a spokesman for the school said. He was riding west on East 129th Street near the Third Avenue Bridge when the Mercedes hit his Cannondale bicycle from behind, the police said. The impact sent Dr. Musatov hurtling into the windshield of the Mercedes and then onto the asphalt.
At which point the pressing question now somehow becomes WAS THE CYLIST WEARING A HELMENT???
A police spokesman said he did not know whether Dr. Musatov, who earned his doctoral degree from Saint Petersburg State University in Russia in 1998, had been wearing a helmet.
Oh for fuck's sake.
But don't worry, because there's going to be an "accident investigation:"
David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state court system, said on Thursday that officials were waiting for the police department’s accident investigation before determining what role the court officers may have played in the crash. He said the officers were driving from the Bronx courts to the Harlem Community Justice Center on a routine patrol when the Mercedes ran the red light. He said the officers had responded so quickly because the Mercedes nearly struck their car.
"Accident investigation?" How the hell does anybody--the court spokesman, the police, the reporter--possibly use the word "accident" in connection with a circumstance in which a driver was fleeing from a traffic stop, killed somebody in the process, and then fled the scene?
That's one big-ass "oopsie."
Furthermore, what is an "accident investigation?" The first word completely undermines the second. Aren't you supposed to investigate something before declaring it an accident? When you do that in business it's called "creative accounting," i.e. "embezzling." Yet the Times can somehow print the phrase "accident investigation" with a straight face.
Just imagine other tragic news stories employed similar syntax as stories about motor vehicle violence. This:
Would become this:
Bronx Boy, 14, Killed by Bullet Fleeing Gun
And of course this:
Would become this:
Suddenly, at about 8:30 a.m., a Smith and Wesson approached Christopher, at which point a bullet emerged from it and entered his face. His brother and his friend took shelter under the protective life-giving cars that line the city's streets. Law enforcement officials did not know whether Christopher was wearing a bulletproof vest. Or a helmet.
And naturally this:
Would become this:
Accident investigators are like, "That sucks, accidents happen."
Now I'm certainly not saying the Times are being malicious here. It's just a symptom of how deeply ingrained driver absolution is in our culture. We all do it to some degree, because at this point our language has evolved to distance drivers from their actions. As the article above reveals, the way we speak is full of loopholes. (The driver didn't do it, the car did.) It's like those devices that help Jews cheat the Sabbath--if the gizmo is Rube Goldberg-esque enough then the user can claim they're not violating the law, but the fact of the matter is that turning on a light is still turning on a light. Linguistically, we treat cars and drivers like Jews and lightswitches, placing an ultimately meaningless gap of passivity between them that serves to absolve them.
Now have a great weekend!
--Wildcat Rock Machine