(Flatbush Avenue it ain't.)
I took the photo this morning, and as usual I was piloting the Smugness Flotilla Mark II laden with two (2) human children. If you enlarge the photo you will notice that up ahead on the right there is a gentleman running (not particularly urgently, it was more of a trot) up the hill. He doesn't appear to be dressed for exercise, and I'm not sure why anybody would choose to run in a pair of khakis when we are currently beneath a "heat dome." (Maybe he was late for a train. What do I know?) The point is that even on a bicycle I could not catch this man.
And that is how slowly I ride up this hill.
So yeah, call me crazy, but I don't think this ride warrants safety gear--though obviously once I crested the hill I totally bombed down the other side, one hand off the bars and tweeting bon mots all the while.
(And yes, of course as I passed the runner I pointed to my bare legs and mouthed the words "heat dome!" over and over again.)
Speaking of my daredevil exploits, yesterday I said if you needed me I'd probably be mountain biking. Well, if you went looking for me you wouldn't have found me, because I changed my mind and instead I've been bouncing around on the Milwaukee the last few days:
I haven't encountered any Helmet Mimes since Tuesday, but there sure are a fuckload of deer out there.
Still, helmet mania is reaching epidemic proportions, as this tweet illustrates:
people driving SUVs:
The man fled as the authorities put out a call with the vehicle description. Around 2:10 a.m. on Thursday, the police found a vehicle matching the description near Columbus Circle.
The man inside refused to leave his vehicle and was seen putting a “red plastic helmet on his head,” Chief O’Neill said. It was unclear whether he was armed.
Unclear whether he was armed? Seems to me he was armed with an SUV. Guess we're still not ready to wrap our heads around the concept of weaponizing motor vehicles.
Meanwhile, from the Traffic Accident Coalition in Victoria Australia comes Graham, the "interactive lifelike sculpture demonstrating human vulnerability:"
In a shift from its traditional road safety campaigns, the TAC has collaborated with a leading trauma surgeon, a crash investigation expert and a world-renowned Melbourne artist to produce ‘Graham’, an interactive lifelike sculpture demonstrating human vulnerability.
Graham has been designed with bodily features that might be present in humans if they had evolved to withstand the forces involved in crashes. Studies have shown that the human body can only cope with impacts at speeds people can reach on their own, unassisted by vehicles.
“People can survive running at full pace into a wall but when you’re talking about collisions involving vehicles, the speeds are faster, the forces are greater and the chances of survival are much slimmer,” TAC chief executive officer Joe Calafiore said.
“Cars have evolved a lot faster than humans and Graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes.”
This campaign raises a number of questions for me, including but not limited to:
--Has nobody told the Traffic Accident Coalition we're not saying "accident" anymore?
--Where's Graham's cupholder?
--Has nobody at the Traffic Accident Coalition ever been to America? Because Graham looks like any given wholesale price club shopper:
Also, I assume this is supposed to make Australians more careful, but I fear it will backfire, because I'm sure they all dream of a future in which human beings are born with helmets:
Of course, some people hold out hope that car use will decline, thus sparing us this next phase of human (d)evolution. For example, there are those who hope "car-sharing" will save us:
(Via @naparstek's twitter.)
For the vast majority of respondents, car2go did not have any causal effect on their vehicle holdings. Just two to five percent of active members said that they’d sold a car as a result of car2go’s operations. Between 7 and 10 percent said they’d avoided buying a car. But those relatively small percentages translated to sizable impacts. For every car2go vehicle on the street, the researchers found, members sold somewhere between one and three personal vehicles and avoided buying between four and nine vehicles. Overall, each shared car2go vehicle removed as many as 11 personal cars from the road. (City-specific detail on this can be found in the table below.) Across the five study cities, that added up to 28,000 fewer cars.
Yeah, I dunno. People may say they didn't buy a car because of this service, but then again people say a lot of shit because it sounds good. More cars were sold in America in 2015 then, well, ever. Plus, apparently General Motors is kicking ass:
Yeah, that's General Motors. The General Motors. You know, the ones who can't make an ignition switch. (Not to be confused with Chrysler, who can't make an automatic transmission shifter.)Breaking: General Motors' profit more than doubles, boosted by demand for trucks and SUVs; stock jumps premarket https://t.co/bX4jhoqhuZ— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 21, 2016
If people are still buying cars from those assholes than what hope is there for a car-free future?
Sure, I suppose car-sharing and technology could "disrupt" the traditional car dependence, but I remain skeptical. Based on what I see living in New York City the kinds of people who use car-share wouldn't buy a car anyway, and the only thing keeping everybody else from owning one is lack of access to free or cheap parking--and once they have that they're getting a fucking car. Indeed, as a co-op board veteran I can assure you that pretty much every interview goes like this:
--"Is there parking here?"
--"Do you own a car?"
--"No, but we plan to buy one if we can park it."
Or eventually people just leave the city altogether and move to one of those "walkable suburbs:"
One of several municipalities in the town of Mount Pleasant in Westchester, Pleasantville is 1.9 square miles, which means that, unlike in some suburbs, people walk.
They walk to the cinema and to restaurants and shops, including the independent Village Bookstore. They walk to the library and to the year-round Saturday farmers market. They walk to the train to commute into the city. And they walk to school.
The truth about "walkable suburbs" is it's mostly just an aesthetic distinction, because while they're technically walkable it's not like anybody really does--at least not in a meaningful way. That's why even in a village of 1.9 square miles people say stuff like this at community meetings:
Last month, Mr. McGaffey attended the village’s first public meeting focusing on revisions to the business district master plan. So did Donna Edlund, an associate broker with the Pleasantville branch of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, who said, “We need more places for people to park.”
Do they really need more places for people to park? It's a 1.9 square-mile village! You can't get more than walking distance from your own car without leaving town!
And far more frightening than humans evolving into Graham is the fact that laws have already evolved to make it impossible for anybody to get in trouble for hurting anybody else with a car:
The actor allegedly swung open his car door and struck a bicyclist on Tuesday in Los Angeles, TMZ reported.
The 35-year-old rider was "badly hurt" and taken to the hospital where he received stitches on his chest, according to the gossip site.
Piven did not receive a ticket since cops didn't witness the incident, but police sources told TMZ that Piven was at fault for the accident.
You've gotta love the magical cloaking powers of a motor vehicle. Your car is like international waters--nobody has jurisdiction over anything that happens in it.
Cars won't cause humanity to evolve into Graham. Instead they'll turn us all into giant douchebags like Jeremy Piven
Lastly, unrelated to cars, Silca has launched a Kickstarter:
Traditional multi-tools may be good for making some adjustments, but when it comes to properly applying torque, the small size, difficult ergonomics, and often poor fitting or flexible tools make it impossible for even the most experienced user to 'feel' the torque they are applying.
Well okay then.