I muttered this to myself this morning as I rolled right past one yet again. See, here's what happens when you come to a full stop at a stop sign at a four-way intersection on a bicycle:
First, you arrive at the stop sign and dutifully stop, placing a foot on the ground just to prove a point. The intersection is clear and you have the right of way, so you turn briefly to flash a quick "thumbs up" and then continue on your way.
But wait! Here comes Asshole #1! This asshole is nowhere near the stop sign yet, but he or she sees the only traffic entering the intersection is a cyclist, and you don't count because: 1) Your diminutive vehicle poses little physical threat to his SUV; and 2) It's pretty much legal to run you down anyway so fuck it. Furthermore, there's an unwritten rule that states no motorist should ever have to wait for a bicyclist, and indeed in practice this supersedes the actual written rule that they have to obey stop signs. So Asshole #1 runs the stop sign in order to beat you through the intersection.
And let's not forget about Asshole #2. This asshole is behind you, and he sees that you've come to a complete stop. This of course triggers that unwritten rule that says NEVER WAIT FOR A PERSON ON A BIKE. If you're lucky he simply speeds past you and crashes into Asshole #1, but if you're unlucky you fall victim to the dreaded "right hook."
Plus, it's worth noting that when you "run" a stop sign on a bicycle you're generally still traveling well below the speed a typical motorist considers "stopping," which in New York City generally means placing sufficient pressure on the brake pedal to activate the brake lights.
Indeed, all of the above is the basis behind the "Idaho stop," whereby a cyclist may treat a red light as a stop sign, a stop sign as a yield sign, and a yield sign as a urinal because yield signs are stupid.
Of course, none of this is to say you shouldn't take stop signs seriously when you're riding a bicycle. It's just that you can't always take them literally. But you certainly can't ignore them, lest you wind up like poor Elmer:
Going through the scanned images of It's Great To Be Alive!, two things quickly become obvious: a. kids from the 1950s were terrible bicycle riders and b. kids also did a lot of stupid, dangerous things.
Uh, sorry, no. Kids in the 1950s weren't terrible bicycle riders, nor were they particularly stupid. This is pamphlet is classic post-war propaganda designed to secure the public roadways for motordom and brainwash children to indenture themselves to the Automotive Industrial Complex as soon as they're old enough. And it's why doing healthy stuff like riding bikes to school pretty much died along with Elmer.
I could find out little information about the history of It's Great To Be Alive! other than the fact that it was distributed by local police, but clearly someone at the time thought it would be a great idea to shock children into being safe by painting morbid scenarios of what could happen if you didn't exercise caution and common sense. This little booklet didn't mince words: there's maiming, crippling, and death sprinkled throughout its sometimes disturbing and unintentionally funny illustrations. So let's have a look...
Ah, yes, such a silly time. I'm glad we've moved away from that and now produce more sensible PSAs:
But you have to give the Automotive Industrial Complex credit for doing such a thorough job, because now you can't even run a race on a public roadway without someone getting run over:
For some reason, Walters veered out of the designated race lane and into the lane designated for vehicle traffic. The right side of the pickup truck hit Walters' left side, causing her to fall off her bike and be struck by the truck.
Wow, the syntactical gymnastics we use to absolve drivers of any and all responsibility is truly dizzying, and that second sentence in particular is Olympic floor routine-caliber.
It would be great if people would drive more carefully when they see a bunch of orange cones and people on bikes, but I guess that would go against the unwritten rule.
Given all of this, it seems that more and more people are checking out of reality altogether and riding "virtually" instead:
Aaron Puzey says it started out of boredom. He'd been toiling away on his exercise bike for half an hour a day for years, and things were beginning to get tedious. "I'd been day dreaming for a while about the possibility of using VR to make it a bit more fun," Puzey told The Verge by email. "And now of course the technology has arrived to make it happen." His solution? Hooking a Galaxy Gear up to Google Street View and cycling the length of the UK — 1,500 kilometers from Land's End to John o' Groats — all from the comfort of his front room.
Here's a crazy idea: If you're bored on an exercise bike, maybe try going outside and riding a bicycle that actually takes you places. But I guess why do that when you can do this instead:
One of the most interesting things, he says, has been navigating what is a highly constrained 3D world. "The single biggest problem with the Street View data is the high compression on the depth information," says Puzey, with Google storing a limited number of planes to represent complex scenes. "Some things, like buildings, fit very well to this model and look quite solid, but things like trees and hedges and anything lumpy often just looks a mess. I've also seen things like squashed bugs on the Google camera, bad colors in some scenes and strange black 'sink holes'. However, even with those problems it still feels like I'm there."
Yes, why ride outdoors when instead you can experience what it's like to have serious depth perception issues--not to mention nausea:
So much so, that nausea can be a problem, especially when he's navigating complex routes — like roundabouts — that have been squashed into only a few layers of depth. "The problem [is that I'm] telling the 'bike' in VR to face in the direction of the path it was moving along," says Puzey. "Then I had a breakthrough and realized if I make it face about 5 meters ahead of where I was it made an enormous improvement."
So basically it's like riding a bike after eating poison mushrooms or receiving a crushing blow to the head.
I wonder if he went to Butt Hole Road:
I'm glad to see they're wearing their helmets.