With that in mind, yesterday evening I rode a Citi Bike through the streets of New York, and I'm sorry to report it's a bit of a shitshow out there. Here are three (3) things I observed yesterday evening, all of which I failed to photograph because I was too lazy to fish my cellular telephone with integrated camera out of my pocket:
1) A Cat 6 unicyclist on the Manhattan Bridge;
2) Legions of riders streaming off the aforementioned bridge, right through the red light, and directly in the path of oncoming motor vehicle traffic;
3) Someone riding a Brompton and wearing a Giro Air Attack helme(n)t.
Now, Item #1 speaks for itself, but it's worth addressing Items #2 and #3 in more detail.
With regard to Item #2, there is rolling through a red light when there is no oncoming traffic in sight, and then there's rushing lemming-like into the street when cars are coming off of the bridge with the light in their favor. This was the latter, and I stood there agog as rider after rider simply ignored the light and the cars and rode across. I should also point out that each of these riders was wearing a bicycle helme(n)t (as per the CDC's instructions), and from this I conclude that decades of helment propaganda has convinced many American cyclists that their responsibilities begin and end with strapping on a polystyrene yarmulke. (Loosely and off-kilter in most cases.)
As for Item #3, even though the cyclist was behaving perfectly responsibly the sight caused me even more consternation than the Cat 6 lemmings, because here is a Giro Air Attack:
And here is a Brompton:
And that the twain should ever meet is an offense just short of wearing a skinsuit while riding a Dutch bike.
In fact, I'd argue that nobody should wear a Giro Air Attack under any circumstances, but I acknowledge that there is no talking sense to the sorts of Freds and Fredericas who buy these dork-tastic dome adornments, so the very least we can do is make sure such helments remain confined to that population.
I should also point out that the Air Attack face shield was in fact in situ, which made the rider look like an actual Bromptonaut--or, if you prefer, like this person if he were riding a tiny folding bicycle:
I hope I shall never have to see such a thing again as long as I live.
Overall, I'd say we've come a long was as a bikey city in that we now have something resembling a bicycle rush hour, but developmentally speaking we're still toddlers at best.
Of course, the above doesn't apply to me, because I represent the very apotheosis of cycling. (Click here if you don't believe me.) I'm also the "resident NYC bike expert," which composers of press releases are quick to acknowledge:
As the resident NYC bike expert, I think you'd be really interested in a new Brooklyn-designed bike company launching next week on 5/27 at 11am EST.
Brilliant Bicyle Co was started by two former venture capitalists frustrated by how difficult it is for the Average Joe to buy a bicycle. Their company is launching beautiful, hand-made, high quality bikes that are hand-welded in ethical factories and priced at less than half of retail prices, starting at $299.
Reasons you'll dig Brilliant:
It's the best bike to suggest to your casual riding friends
The engineering and design of a competitive bike but designed for the casual rider
Quality and speed meant for casual rider
Not overselling a gentle or relaxed rider with a bike they don’t need
Great gift for a beginner to grow with a bike
Price point is accessible
Design is beautiful
Comfortable riding to interest and entice a first time rider
Would love to send through the press release and password so you can check out the site in full, all embargoed until 11am ET on 5/27.
Let me know if you're interested in checking that out!
The phrase "Brooklyn-designed" is a good indication that a business venture is mostly just full of itself, as is the involvement of "former venture capitalists," because if they were competent then it's safe to assume they'd still be venture capitalists. There are billions of dollars to be made in the tech industry, yet what little money there still is in cycling has all been hoarded by Mike Sinyard, so there's no sound reason to go from one to the other. Nevertheless, I suspect that having failed as venture capitalists they're under the mistaken impression that making money off the quirky, folksy, naive world of bikes will be like taking an organic lollipop from a baby.
But let's give our erstwhile venture capitalists the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they've already made their billions and now they're going to give back to the world. Why? Because they're "frustrated by how difficult it is for the Average Joe to buy a bicycle." (As for the Average Jane, presumably that's her problem.) Certainly we can all relate to this frustration, because as it stands it is indeed extremely difficult to enter a bicycle shop or visit a website, proffer some form of payment, and take delivery of a bike.
Furthermore, you can rest assured that these bikes are "hand-welded in ethical factories," which I take to mean that none of the children who build them have yet been executed for shoddy workmanship.
Anyway, as you probably guessed by now, their revolutionary idea is to sell cheap, fashionable singlespeeds via the Internet:
Which NOBODY HAS EVER DONE BEFORE.*
*[The State Bicycle Co. banner in the right-hand margin of this blog is a figment of your imagination.]
Okay, fine, plenty of people have done this before, but with the exception of Old Man Budnitz few have been so pretentious about it. For example, they're cutting out the "middlemen:"
You know, those pesky middlemen who put your bike together for you and make sure it fits you and make helpful suggestions and all that meddlesome nonsense.
I mean, why engage a middleman when you can just "Grab a Friend?"
2. Grab a Friend
Brilliant Bicycles are designed to be assembled by one person, but it's a lot more fun if you grab a friend and put on some tunes; we even made a bike building playlist for you here!
So go ahead, call up your friend with the Vice Grips who put together a NORNÄS wine rack from Ikea one time, crank up that insipid playlist, and do your worst.
Speaking of doing your worst, meet the "skoot:"
Which is designed and built in Cleveland, as if you hadn't guessed.
All Kickstarter creators embark on a futile voyage of discovery, and this one is no exception:
"A skateboard is great for doing tricks and riding on ramps. But it isn't ideal for going high speeds or long distances."
Of course, what is good for going high speeds and long distances is a bicycle, but instead he came up with this:
Which he designed using two bicycle wheels, some chalk, and his imagination:
"There were no sketches, no plans, and no blueprints."
The above is also true of 90% of the buildings comprising the Cleveland skyline.
By the way, if you're anything like me you felt compelled to point out that the whole time he was designing this thing he could have just used the bike that's sitting right there:
But instead he chopped it up to make a giant scooter:
That's a goddamn shame.
Still, you'll look great making the scene in what, by Cleveland standards, is the cool gentrified neighborhood in town:
"Everyone that has seen it has stopped me to ask questions about what it is and where it came from."
Then, when he answered those questions, they asked if he would please send it back there.
This isn't to say the "skoot" doesn't have its advantages. For example, check out how aero you can get:
If only he had a Giro Air Attack helment he'd hit Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" speed in no time.
It also looks great next to Cleveland:
Then again, everything looks great next to Cleveland.
Regardless, I wish the creator nothing but success, and I hope the "skoot" fares better than the Mogo, which the cycling world met back in 2008:
And which exists now only as a "404 not found" message:
It seems the world was not yet ready for the return of the dandy horse.
Perhaps it is now.