Yes, here's your chance to turn your digital navel-gazing and smartphone onanism into a better future for all cyclists, or something:
Strava Metro is proud to host the first Global Bike to Work Day. Upload a ride on May 10th that starts in one place and ends in another and you’ll complete the challenge. Not only will you enjoy a healthy way to travel and make the world just a little better, but by uploading your commute to Strava, you’ll make a difference.
Sure, you could just ride to work without "hitting record," but then you wouldn't be adding to Strava's valuable "dataset:"
But in 2013 a colleague had an idea. She recorded her own bike rides using an app called Strava, and thought: why not ask the company to share its data? And so was born Strava Metro, both an inadvertent tech business spinoff and a similarly accidental urban planning tool, one that is now quietly helping to reshape streets in more than 70 places around the world and counting.
Here's how Strava Metro works:
In this context, Strava Metro, which involves only seven of the company’s 100-plus staff, resembles almost a social enterprise, with data provided relatively cheaply – Oregon paid $20,000 (£14,000) – or free for some academic use.
Presumably those seven staff members spend their days sifting through Strava data and trying to separate the Freds from the commuter dorks, which sounds like one of the circles of Hell. While I can certainly see how this data would be useful to municipalities, I'd also worry that basing bicycle infrastructure development on Strava trips could have certain unintended consequences. For example, given the increasing popularity of Strava art, it's only a matter of time before some Department of Transportation drone designs a bike lane shaped like a dong:
Furthermore, in this bold new future, what will become of those of us who still choose to ride unconnected? Do we not matter? If you cut us off do we not give you the finger? If you puncture our tires do they not deflate?
I mean what are we anyway, chopped liver?
(You, if you don't use Strava.)
Clearly we should have more faith in the private sector in general and Silicon Valley in particular. After all, the tech companies have already solved all the problems in the Bay Area, and because of them that region isn't headed rapidly towards a dystopian future in which only the very wealthiest people can afford housing and access to a rapidly-dwindling water supply or anything like that. Clearly by applying this approach in cities across America we'll soon become a nation of interconnected self-driving cars and smart helmets, one nation under crash avoidance, with digital suppositories for all.
Speaking of Global Bike to Work Day, it's Bike Month, which means the inevitable bike-baiting stories in local newspapers all over America--and here's perhaps the lamest one ever written, from a free daily here in New York City that's most commonly found soaking up puddles of indigent urine on the subway:
By amNY Staff May 9, 2016
The byline above is important, because as you read this it's important that it took the entire staff to compose this, which is both hilarious and sad. And if you hate reading these kinds of things because they make you angry, don't worry, because it's far too inept to elicit any kind of ire.
Anyway, any good editorial starts off with a strong statement, and so the stupid ones, to wit:
Unless you ride a bike to work every day, chances are you've been on the receiving end of some unfavorable behavior from a cyclist in New York City.
Whether they're blowing traffic lights, speeding through the park or riding on the sidewalk, we've got some gripes about cyclists that need to be aired.
Here are our least favorite things about bicyclists in New York City.
Right. Clearly no member of the amNY staff has ever ridden a bike, because if they did they'd know that nobody is forced to take more shit from cyclists than other cyclists.
So what sort of cyclist behavior has the amNY crew so riled up, anyway? Well, for one thing, some of these cyclist don't wear helmets:
Come on, put a helmet on and save yourself from the possibility of disability and death.
I know, right? Some of them also dress warmly enough when it's chilly out. Come on, put on a jacket and save yourself from the possibility of the sniffles!
But wait, it gets dumber:
Oh, you wanted to get across town today? Sorry -- there are thousands of bicyclists riding down the street instead.
For those of you who don't live in New York City, keep in mind there are exactly zero (0) bike races here that involve any sort of street closure whatsoever, and the above image appears to be from the Five Boro Bike Tour, which happens once a year, and which is to a bike race as a fun run is to a marathon, or amNY is to a newspaper.
As for charity-type rides, yes, some of those enjoy street closures, but there are maybe like three of those a year. Meanwhile, I don't think there's a single weekend in New York City in which some major artery isn't closed for a street fair, which causes complete motor-vehicular mayhem for dozens of blocks in every direction. ("Street fairs" may sound like a good thing, but they're basically just the police shaking the city down for overtime pay so street vendors can sell cotton candy and irregular socks.)
Anyway, by now you've probably realized much of these gripes are either: 1) things that don't affect anybody else; or 2) just plain fiction, and after awhile it just doubles over on itself and starts complementing cyclists instead of insulting them:
Nothing will stop cyclists from going for a spin.
I'm not sure why this is a problem. If anything, the problem is that nothing will stop motorists from going for a drive, because you can pretty much count on at least a few of them to kill themselves by ignoring weather advisories and travel bans and driving directly into that hurricane or blizzard in order to get the bread and milk.
It will be amusing to see if anybody can write anything dumber than this before Bike Month is out, and if you find something in your local rag please let me know. In the meantime though, it's pretty safe to say this is the high water mark of stupid--especially when you consider this is a typical day here in New York City:
Let's just hope the NYPD finds the cyclist responsible. It was probably some reckless two-wheeled scofflaw who confused the cabbie by not wearing a pair of signaling gloves:
Yes, only a pair of Australians could have invented a piece of safety apparel this dorky:
Because once you've got mandatory helmet laws where do you go from there?
This isn't to say they're completely useless. For example, the motion detection feature will certainly liven up those competitive wanking tournaments. However, I'm not sure what sort of conclusion a motorist is supposed to conclude from this:
Or even this:
In other words, you can expect these to be mandatory in New South Wales within two years.