And of course the highlight of my absence was leading the BSNYC Gran Fondon't, which took place this past Saturday. It is vital to keep the Gran Fondon't shrouded in mystery in order to maintain its considerable mystique. Therefore I did not take any photos (though feel free to share yours if you took them), but you can safely assume it was nothing like this:
Instead, a goodly-sized group of hale cyclists did gather at the pointy end of Manhattan at about 7:30am, and then we embarked upon a 40-ish mile mixed-terrain jaunt through the quasi-bucolic precincts north of the city. Finally, we concluded the ride by drinking beer and eating food at a brewery in Yonkers.
And that's how it's done.
I'm also pleased to report there was only one (1) frustrating interaction with motorists (at least as far as I know). Ironically, this occurred at the point furthest from the city, on quiet, lightly-trafficked country roads. We were making our way up a hill, and the fact that we were taking up more than six inches of roadway absolutely infuriated the driver of some sort of late-model Porsche, and so he (it had to have been a "he") roared past us while laying on the horn. Then, moments later, he was followed by the driver of a shitty Toyota Matrix who did exactly the same thing.
It was an amusing display in that it represented the broad spectrum of douche-tastic motorist behavior: on one end the entitled asshole in the $90,000 car who can't wait a few moments to pass courteously, and on the other the pathetic shitbox pilot attempting to emulate him. However, it was also infuriating, in that it was indicative of the sad fact that the more fortunate people are the more insufferable they become. Here's someone fortunate enough to have access to a fancy car, and to live in a wealthy area surrounded by rolling green hills, where the biggest transportation-related problem he has to face is occasionally sharing the roads with people on bicycles coming up to enjoy it. Yet instead of enjoying it all he's got to throw a temper tantrum and wave his impotent dick in the direction of his good fortune. (As for the Matrix driver, I'm assuming he doesn't have as much money as the asshole in the Porsche, but fuck him too.)
Of course, in dedicating so many words to this incident I've already blown it out of proportion in that it was really only a tiny blemish on what was otherwise a lovely day. Nevertheless, while Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal may have pledged to love even the automobile drivers, I will continue to pray to God and Jesus that people like the motorists above lose control of their vehicles, have collisions that involve only themselves, and sustain somewhat improbable injuries in which their gear selectors somehow manage to penetrate their rectums. So please, join hands with me, bow your heads, and implore Lord Jesus to fuck the motorists in the ass with their own cars:
("C'mere you little piece a shit!"--Corinthians 13:3)
I have faith in you, Jesus Christ, and I know that in your infinite mercy you will make it so.
A-meh and Holy Luau.
(As for the Fondon't, if you missed it there's always next year, and there's also the chance I'll organize another ride before that. At this moment the chances of that happening are exactly 43.2%, and I'll keep you posted.)
Alas, according to the New York Times, God won't hear my prayer because He doesn't cause "accidents," He only lays out strange dietary requirements and plants fake dinosaur fossils to challenge our faith:
Even so, I was quite pleased to see this article:
Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers.
Just don’t call them accidents anymore.
That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.
“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“In our society,” he added, “language can be everything.”
Very true. Unfortunately not everyone's convinced:
But use of “accident” has its defenders, as Mr. Larason discovered in 2014 when he posted his thoughts on the word in a Facebook group popular among traffic reporters.
“Why can’t human error be an accident even if the error is preventable,” one person wrote. “What is being solved by having this debate? What injustice are we correcting?”
What injustices? Oh, I dunno, how about police believing the lies of killer motorists, or failing to charge drivers who kill children?
The person who wrote that comment was probably the same asshole driving that Matrix.
The article also provides some fascinating insight into how the word "accident" became the default term:
The word was introduced into the lexicon of manufacturing and other industries in the early 1900s, when companies were looking to protect themselves from the costs of caring for workers who were injured on the job, according to Peter Norton, a historian and associate professor at the University of Virginia’s department of engineering.
The business community even developed a cartoon character — the foolish Otto Nobetter, who suffered frequent accidents that left him maimed, immolated, crushed, and even blown up. The character was meant to warn workers about the risks of inattention.
“Relentless safety campaigns started calling these events ‘accidents,’ which excused the employer of responsibility,” Dr. Norton said.
When traffic deaths spiked in the 1920s, a consortium of auto-industry interests, including insurers, borrowed the word to shift the focus away from the cars themselves. “Automakers were very interested in blaming reckless drivers,” Dr. Norton said.
So basically, like "jaywalker," it's an example of business interests using language to fuck us.
In any case, while it's good to see the media waking up to all of this, it's too bad that those same business interests are always at least a few steps ahead of us. Sure, by the time the self-driving cars take over the media may not call crashes "accidents" anymore, but everyone's still going to assume you're at fault when one hits you and you wind up stuck to its hood:
(There's that "A"-word, by the way!)
“Ideally, the adhesive coating on the front portion of the vehicle may be activated on contact and will be able to adhere to the pedestrian nearly instantaneously,” according to the patent description.
“This instantaneous or nearly-instantaneous action may help to constrain the movement of the pedestrian, who may be carried on the front end of the vehicle until the driver of the vehicle (or the vehicle itself in the case of an autonomous vehicle) reacts to the incident and applies the brakes.”
If you weren't yet paranoid that the machines are taking over then I'm willing to bet you are now, and I look forward to Google's next patent for a device that renders pedestrians and cyclists who fall victim to self-driving cars into Soylent Green.
No way I'm falling victim to any of that, which is why 10 years from now you'll find me riding around town slathered in marine grease.
Speaking of dystopias, those stratospherically high bicycle fines in New South Wales, Australia have been in effect for a few months now, and apparently they're really raking it in:
Cyclists fined for not wearing helmets rose to 1098 in March and April – up from 710 previously. They make up more than two-thirds of the total number of infringement notices.
The fine for riding without a helmet more than quadrupled on March 1 to $319.
It means the amount of fines collected from people riding without helmets totalled $350,262 in March and April, compared with just over $50,000 in the same period in 2015.
In contrast to the number of cyclists penalised, four motorists were fined for not passing cyclists at a safe distance during the period.
I look forward to the end of the year, when statistics show that cyclists have not been made even remotely safer by any of this, and/or that large numbers of people have simply abandoned riding bikes altogether.
Lastly, for those of you brave enough to continue riding in this nightmarish future, here's the e-bike of your nightmares:
A "Sport Utility Vehicle / SUV" is defined as "a large vehicle that is designed to be used on rough surfaces but that is often used on city roads or highways”. The Carbon ebike is perhaps the most advanced concept of e-bike available today. It could be interpreted as a hybrid bicycle/motorcycle: a lightweight device which releases large amounts of power. Still a true bicycle that you can enjoy in every sense of the word, it offers you much more in terms of usability, performance and freedom: the SUV ebike®.
The Carbon SUV ebike is a superior e-bike in terms of performance, comfort, technology, and brand image.
Should look great stuck to the hood of a Google car.