Merriam-Webster defines it thusly:
1: of, relating to, or resembling mucus
2: secreting or containing mucus
3: covered with or as if with mucus : slimy
While smugness is a characteristic often associated with people who ride bicycles, the fact is that drivers of electric cars can be even more smug than your run-of-the-mill cargo bike-riding Birkenstock-wearing food co-op denizen. This can occasionally lead to a "smug-off," as happened when I parked my WorkCycles next to a Tesla recently:
Note the Tesla's license plate, which reads NOT GAS, and which I took as a great affront to my own smugness. See, my vehicle doesn't use gas either, but you don't see me making a big deal of it. Plus, even when you're driving an electric car you're still hogging the same amount of road--and we still get like 67% of our electricity from fossil fuels anyway:
Coal = 33%
Natural gas = 33%
Nuclear = 20%
Hydropower = 6%
Other renewables = 7%
Biomass = 1.6%
Geothermal = 0.4%
Solar = 0.6%
Wind = 4.7%
Petroleum = 1%
Other gases = less than 1%
Of course, this varies from region to region, but according to this map our biggest source of electricity in New York is natural gas. Gas. So they can't really have a license plate that says NOT GAS, can they?
I mean sure, I know that's not what they mean, but still.
Still, an overly smug vanity plate is way better than one of these window decals I've been seeing all over the place:
Anyway, I think stick figure families are as cloying and trite as anybody, but I simply can't go from there all the way to reveling in motor-vehicular mass murder.
Then again, maybe the problem is I'm not American enough, like this driver I saw recently:
His license plate indicates he is a veteran of the War on Terror, though his rear windshield decal indicates he may be suffering from a severe case of cognitive dissonance, since it depicts pretty much exactly what happened recently in Nice.
I dunno, I've seen a pretty big act of terrorism firsthand, but I'm still way more afraid of getting mowed down in a crosswalk than getting blown up by the latest group of extremists, and decals like the one above are just one of the many reasons why.
Speaking of the people ostensibly keeping us safe, last Friday on the #AskTheMayor segment of The Brian Lehrer Show, at 14 minutes and 56 seconds in, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that the NYPD is going to increase its use of bicycles:
Here's how it went down. Tony in Park Slope called in and asked:
I have a simple question, which is, just, why don’t we have more NYPD officers on bicycles? I was chatting with an officer in Prospect Park Brooklyn the other day during the symphony concert—he’s part of the the 58th precinct—and he said he loves it. And I just know with all the important efforts with Vision Zero trying to reduce traffic fatalities and, you know, just have safe walkable streets I was wondering why don’t we see more cops on bikes in the city and in other precincts?
And here was the Mayor's reply:
Tony, you are ahead of the curve. In fact Commissioner Bratton and I when we got together Monday and we talked about some of the things that we’re doing to increase officer safety—the new helmets that we’re making available and vests to stop the highest caliber ammunition etc.—we also talked about the growing use of bikes by the NYPD. We have hundreds more bikes that are coming in soon that we think are great for everything, for the work that police do with communities. It’s a great element of neighborhood policing which we’re going to be seeing that strategy taking effect more and more because we want police close to the ground connected to the community--not, you know, in a squad car and disconnected but really building relationships. It’s great for dealing with situations where police need to be really agile and mobile. It’s great for dealing with demonstrations and protests which nowadays move quite fluidly and we want our police to stay close by the protesters and be able to protect everyone involved. So we’re going to be doing a lot more with bicycles and a lot more on the way.
There was then a follow-up question from a Mr. Sinyard from Morgan Hill, who asked:
Mr. Mayor, when you say the hundreds more bikes the NYPD ordered are "great for everything," does that include gravel? Also, what is the bottom bracket height? Because perhaps I could interest the NYPD in our new Sequoia, or else the AWOL model.
From there the show devolved into a debate about tire pressure, but the Mayor had already made his point, and I suspect that one day we'll look back and realize that the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was for cops and bikes what that first MASH video was for hipsters and fixies:
It would be nice if increased reliance on bicycles made the police more sensitive to what the rest of us face on the streets on a regular basis, but who knows, and in the meantime we're still on our own:
Especially if we don't lock our bikes properly.