Tuesday, September 20, 2016

So what the hell does "25 or 6 to 4" mean anyway?

When it comes to urban cycling, there is no greater authority than Bicycling, a periodical based in a Pennsylvania town of just over 11,000 people.  Once again, Fred-dom's magazine of record has announced the winner of its biennial "Kiss of Death" awards, and this year the hex falls upon Chicago:

In April, shortly after his re-election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Chicago would build 50 miles of bikeways—many of them physically separated from motor vehicles—over the next three years. Such proclamations can come easily (and cheaply) to the lips of politicians, but during his first term in 2015, Emanuel made good on a promise to build 100 miles of buffered and protected bike lanes. “Those initial 100 miles of bike lanes cost just $12 million,” says Jim Merrell, advocacy director for the Active Transportation Alliance. “That highlights the cost effectiveness of transformative transportation projects like these.”

I'm very sorry you, Chicago.  Sure, you might be reveling in victory now, but what you have to understand is this whole ranking system is cursed.  See, back in 2014 we were "Number One," and since then bike fatalities have increased and it's basically all gone to hell:


New York City motorists have now killed 16 cyclists this year, compared to 14 cyclist fatalities in all of 2015, according to city crash data. After yesterday’s crash, Transportation Alternatives called on Mayor de Blasio to pick up the pace of Vision Zero safety improvements.

And of course we succeeded Portland, which was Bicycling's top cycling city in 2012, and which subsequently entered into a period of "biking stagnation" and increased automobile congestion:


(Most Portlanders drive alone because nobody can stand their company.)

Indeed, Portland does seem to be rebounding, what with the opening of Tilikum Crossing (oh, grow up) and the debut of the BIKETOWN bike share program, but it sure took them awhile and I would imagine the Portland smugerati are under strict orders to eject any Bicycling scouts to Vancouver, WA lest their city once again wind up on the top of this ill-fated list.

As for my quiet little hamlet, we're now sitting at number four:


This is a bit irksome--not because we deserve to be ranked higher (we don't), but because of the reasoning behind it:


One reason New York dropped out of the top spot is that the city has had a "really rough year" enforcing good behavior from both cyclists and motorists, Strickland said. New York also needs to do more to build protected lanes, he said.

Whoa.  I hope the Tribune is twisting his words, because if anything the NYPD does too much to "enforce good behavior from cyclists."  After all, this is the police force that ticketed people on bikes after cyclist Matthew von Ohlen was killed in a hit-and-run.  (By the way, the NYPD found the car that killed von Ohlen but there hasn't been a peep about it since, leading to widespread speculation that the driver may have been a cop.)

As for enforcing good behavior from motorists, I certainly agree with him there, which is the primary reason I was outraged when we hit number one in the first place.  Frankly, the NYPD's behavior should have been more than enough to preclude us from ever reaching the top spot of any "best bike city" list ever.  Then again, maybe making us number one and then knocking us down to number four sends a stronger message than never making us number one in the first place, so perhaps we should be thanking them.

I dunno, it seems to me that Bicycling should just review cities like they review bikes:

New York City



Buy It If: You enjoy riding in protected bike lanes through neighborhoods you can't afford.

Forget It If: You want your friends, family and loved ones to get justice in the event of your death.

Anyway, congratulations Chicago, and I'm sacrificing a chicken now on your behalf in an attempt to spare you from two years under the dreaded "Best Bike City" curse.

In other news, if you've ever had a bicycle shipped to your home you may have noticed that it's not always handled with the utmost care.  For example, when I received my Ritte some years ago, I was so excited that after buzzing the delivery person into the building I waited for him in the hall, only to see a bike box come flying out of the elevator.  So leave it to those clever Dutch to figure out a solution:


“No matter who was doing the shipping, too many of our bikes arrived looking like they’d been through a metal-munching combine harvester. It was getting expensive for us, and bloody annoying for our customers,” creative director Bex Rad wrote on the company’s blog.

“Earlier this year our co-founder Ties had a flash of genius. Our boxes are about the same size as a (really really reaaaally massive) flatscreen television. Flatscreen televisions always arrive in perfect condition. What if we just printed a flatscreen television on the side of our boxes?

“And just like that, shipping damage to our bikes dropped by 70–80%.”

This makes sense, since the only consumer good we revere as much as the car is the TV.

74 comments:

Jasper said...

Early doors

Ted K. said...

175. But suppose now that the computer scientists do not succeed in developing artificial intelligence, so that human work remains necessary. Even so, machines will take care of more and more of the simpler tasks so that there will be an increasing surplus of human workers at the lower levels of ability. (We see this happening already. There are many people who find it difficult or impossible to get work, because for intellectual or psychological reasons they cannot acquire the level of training necessary to make themselves useful in the present system.) On those who are employed, ever-increasing demands will be placed: They will need more and more training, more and more ability, and will have to be ever more reliable, conforming and docile, because they will be more and more like cells of a giant organism. Their tasks will be increasingly specialized, so that their work will be, in a sense, out of touch with the real world, being concentrated on one tiny slice of reality. The system will have to use any means that it can, whether psychological or biological, to engineer people to be docile, to have the abilities that the system requires and to “sublimate” their drive for power into some specialized task. But the statement that the people of such a society will have to be docile may require qualification. The society may find competitiveness useful, provided that ways are found of directing competitiveness into channels that serve the needs of the system. We can imagine a future society in which there is endless competition for positions of prestige and power. But no more than a very few people will ever reach the top, where the only real power is (see end of paragraph 163). Very repellent is a society in which a person can satisfy his need for power only by pushing large numbers of other people out of the way and depriving them of THEIR opportunity for power.

Kraig said...

Hi Ted!

hoghopper said...

Bex Rad. Best name ever.

Anonymous said...

Or 46 and 2, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Farts

N/A said...

First things first: Bex Rad is a fucking awesome name. Second: printing a tv on the bike box is a really great idea.

Like the "Razzie" awards for the tv shows, maybe Bikecykleen Magazine could rate crappy bike cities by how Ditch-worthy they are. For example, my city would be very high on the Ditch scale, on account of all the dump-ass soccer moms driving their short busses and running us cyclers into ditches.

McFly said...

When: Saturday

Where: In the Park

When Part II: Think it was the 4th of July

N/A said...

25 or 6 to 4 was always rumored to be a drug reference. Something about joints. I don't recall the particulars. The other thing I've heard over the years that is was a reference to time, ie "25 minutes or 26 minutes until 4 o'clock." Who the hell knows?




This robot thing is a real pain in the scranus sometimes.

N/A said...

Damnit, I'm all ear-wormed now.

bad boy of the north said...

we're number one in the number four business.one day it'll be the number two.

Grump said...

Bikes might arrive even more safely if the boxes were marked.."Danger, Radioactive Material Inside---Handle With Care".

bad boy of the north said...

and I thought hamlet was a dane.i think i'll have an omelet.

Jon Webb said...

I wonder if bicyclists could increase their safety by disguising themselves somehow as something motorists respect, such as televisions. It might be hard for a cyclist on an upright bicycle, but maybe a recumbent rider could do it, or a Bakfiets. At least, they could paint a TV on the side of a Velomobile.

Anonymous said...

How about "CAUTION: Bike contains live scranus"

David Olson said...

Bad Rex, bad!

DB said...

My new name for Starbucks is Bex Rad.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

18th or 19th to 4 today, Scranus!

bieks said...

Tired of this Atlantic Daylight Time BS and waiting forever for your blog. Heading back to the left coast so I can read this at stupid o'clock again.

CommieCanuck said...

When I left my kids at daycare, I disguised them as an iPhone. No one drops an iPhone on its head.

Laquan McDonald said...

You think the police might lie to cover a crime by one of their own? Come on, that never happens.

N/A said...

I'm thinking about putting one of those Salvation Army kettles on the front of my bike and wearing a red Santa hat when I ride. If it works out like it does in front of the grocery store, people avoid that like the plague.

Frickus Rungus said...

Screw it. I'm going to go watch top gear on my big screen tv.

Charles Helm said...

creative director Bex Rad...more rad than Radavist

BamaPhred said...

A bike diguised as a tv. Snort! Feels good, man.

Anonymous said...

in terms of protection from motorists, you could put a child's bike seat on your bike with a big doll in there and people will be careful passing you.

Chazu said...

"The Cycling Culture" must necessarily take into account the culture of the NYPD and other law enforcement entities. It must also contend with "The Car Culture."

I'm starting to think that WCRM is really Don Quixote.

Frickus Rungus said...

Anonymoose at 12:12,

Are you kidding?!? Putting real live children on the sidewalks seems to encourage people to drive their cars there. I don't think a doll on the back of your bike is going to discourage anyone. If anything, they'll probably swerve over closer to you so they can get a look at that thing in your bike seat to see if it's real.

CommieCanuck said...

in terms of protection from motorists, you could put a child's bike seat on your bike with a big doll in there and people will be careful passing you.

if only...just strap a box labelled "SEMTEX C4", or a red-and white cooler labelled, "Herpes infected organs".

Knowing a child is at stake won't change anything, children don't scratch the paint on German SUVs.

Rightgeous Indignation said...

re: "Emanuel made good on a promise to build 100 miles of buffered and protected bike lanes."

So that works out to about 0.2 miles of bike lane for every murder committed in 2016. Yeah, Windy City...#1.

Sam Treadwell said...

I wonder if my Cherry 2000 model will fit in a child seat.
"In the year 2017, the United States has fragmented into postapocalyptic wastelands and limited civilized areas."
Almost there, man.

leroy said...

Unscientific survey from this morning's bicycle cycling type commute:

Heading west across town in lower Manhattan on Reade Street and later heading east across town on 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan:

Half (yes half, as in 1 out of every 2) of all car drivers were staring at hand held cell phones. Many were texting. I couldn't see into the truck and bus cabs.

I'd have taken a cell phone video, but of course that would have gotten me ticketed.

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

Was on vacation for the last 2 1/2 weeks. What's been going on?
As Snobby quipped, the better you are at riding a bike, the worse you become at everything else.
So on Va-Kay, I did everything else. Much needed bike-cycle mainTENance was not one of those things, although now I'm not only wearing out my handlebar tape, I'm wearing through the bars themselves now. Not to mention wierdo cable routing issues.
On the bright side, I got 2 weeks of blogstuffs to peruse ...

vsk

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

Leroy, you need a remote mounted Mobius Action Camera on a stick. Record away ...


vsk

Anonymous said...

I got one of those boxes delivered, bike seemed undamaged, shame it was not the bike I ordered.

Next one came, also undamaged so box works fine. Shame that the bike had such unsuitable gearing and box had to make forth trip...

C3PO

Comment deleted said...

N/A, the time meaning is clearly the right one. I understood this as a 12 year-old, not to make you feel stupid or anything.

Man, people will say that anything they don't understand is a drug reference. I'm going to "skittle up with the Duke" now, if you know what I mean, and I think you don't.

Spence said...

Are any cities really bike friendly at all? I wonder.

Dooth said...

It takes 25 or 6 to 4 Chicago cyclists to equal 1 Alec Baldwin.

wishiwasmerckx said...

25 or 6 to 4 is a euphemism for "Sitting cross legged on the floor."

And there you have it.

Anonymous said...

Snoob:

Bicycling's editors don't all live in Emmaus. Half of them don't even work in Emmaus, or live in the Commonwealth of PA. But you know that. As a contributor to their efforts you surely know enough about the Bicycling staff to come up with some better indictments of their credibility than the supposed provincial character of Emmaus.

Emmaus is just corner of sprawling urban-ish area* that has few enough cyclists and more than enough motor vehicles that the death rate per rider mile likely is as high as that in NYC. Not that this confers bragging rights, but I do find tiresome the worn-out argument that Bicycling can't be credible because it's based in some backwater. The sad part is that the whole Emmaus stigma seems directly borne out in Bicycling's editorial. To read the magazine you would think that to be "epic" a ride must take place in the Rockies, the West Coast, or somewhere overseas. As much as anyone, you know that the next great ride is out your front door, and that's certainly true in the Lehigh Valley. In fact, the very presence of Bicycling has made the LV a noteworthy riding area (the velodrome, the Derby, yadda, yadda), yet the magazine has done as much as any to build the mythology of place attached to locales like Moab or Portland. Of course, if you're pitching an idea for a story, you may as well turn it into a boondoggle.

*Right off the old internets: The Lehigh Valley is the fastest growing and third most populous region in the state of Pennsylvania with a population of 821,623 residents as of the 2010 U.S. Census.



grog said...

You will cycle perfectly safely if you are Recumbabe.

leroy said...

My dog asked me to find out if wearing a Bike Snob jersey at Bicycling's Fall Classic ride in two weeks voids the jersey's warranty.

He says he's not asking for himself, he's asking for some guy he knows.

Honestly, talk about a coincidence. I also signed up for that ride in the Lehigh Valley and I also have a bike snob jersey. I wonder who my dog knows.

CommieCanuck said...

Are any cities really bike friendly at all? I wonder.

Most European cites. In Berlin, bike lanes are separate from car traffic and pedestrian lanes. Walk in a bike lane and you get a fine. Drive in a bike lane and it's a serious offense.

It comes down to numbers. At rush hour in Berlin, the bike traffic is heavy, with people from all walks of life from Baristas to Banker douches. We need more douches riding to work.

N/A said...

Comment Deleted:

Why should I feel stupid? Because of a lyric in a song I didn't write, that other people have talked about for decades, and that I merely commented on a couple of different things that were popular discussion points?

So, I'm going to call you a "pompous ass" and suggest that you "cram it" if you know what I mean, and I hope you do.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Terry Kath was a great guitarist.

Comment deleted said...

N/A, I can live with that.

Fred Flanders said...

I remember a duder called himself BikeSnobChicago and tried to ape your style about a decade or so ago. He flamed out badly. Doubt he's still around. I wonder if he is responsible for the bike-friendliness of the eponymous city. they still have a lot more murders than bike lane miles, though.

A Ride on the Wild Side said...

The car might have belonged to a cop, or a UN diplomat. (anyone know where Bankee Moon was at the time) or The Donald, for that matter maybe Chris Christie who somehow got a pass on bridgegate despite being up to his waistline in it, no perp walk for him. You never know. Ya think NYC is dangerous, just imagine riding a bike in Syria, where the gov doesn't give you a ticket, they drop a barrel bomb on you.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

I met someone who lives in California and wrote for Bicyikleen Magazine - one of the biggest douches I've ever had the displeasure of meeting. And I've met my fair share of douches.

Mike in Dallas said...

"Forget It If: You want your friends, family and loved ones to get justice in the event of your death."

Gold Snoby, GOLD!

And Spence nailed it; "Is any place in the USA really bike friendly?" Frankly, I've given up on all of it and am going to ride my bike no matter what.

Jolly Roger said...

Once, I used a copy of Buy-Sickling Magazine as a bird-cage liner and I wound up with a constipated parrot. I said "Hey, what gives?" The parrot said "Sorry, I abhor redundancies".

geoff_tewierik said...

I agree with N/A, Bex Rad is a fucking awesome name. How cool is it to be named after both a Headache Tablet and the coolest BMX movie ever?

dancesonpedals said...

My name at Starbucks is Mike Hunt

Daisy said...

It takes 25 or 6 to 4 Chicago cyclists to equal 1 Alec Baldwin.

But would any of them want to be equivalent to any part of Alec Baldwin? Your mileage may vary...

justtoolingaround said...

Think for yourself, Question Authority

justtoolingaround said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lieutenant Oblivious said...

My son once used Meg as his name in a Starbucks where we were the only customers. Since no one else was in the store and our ice coffee order was not complicated, I wondered why they needed a name. I my son why Meg? He said yeah, Meg, as in Megatron.

Dooth said...

Daisy,
25 (or 6 to 4 years ago) I was cycling up Central Park West when my beeper went off and I had to use a public pay phone. And the nearest pay phone I found was being used by Alec Baldwin. He sounded pissed, but his suit was sharp.

Dorothy Rabinowitz said...

Anybody seen Mike Hunt?

Anonymous said...

I'm in Tacoma. And lemme tell you, this ain't no Portland. Or Seattle. Cars are friendly with bikes. 'Cause you never see any.

Doc Sarvis said...

That would be the CIA who drops a barrel bomb on you. Those douches have no couth...

Connie Linquist said...

Yo, Dorothy...ate some dried prunes earlier. I 'spose one of 'em coulda been the remnants of the fella yer lookin' for.

Anonymous said...

Starbucks name: Dixie Normous, best Chicago 1 track: Southern California Purples, I ride in Florida, so if I survive a 25 miler, I'm amazed... lots of flakka here... woooo...

Anonymous said...

Dixie Normous, good friends with my buddies Ben Dover and Phil McCracken.

Anonymous said...

If cycling is the new golf...pass me that phony mini pump wouldya?

Anonymous said...

The idea to print a flat screen TV on the bike box is a good one but why not take it a step further and print snakes on the side?

Mike Hunt said...

I'm really tired of you assholes getting cheap laughs from my name.

Anonymous said...

Hugh G. Rection and Mike Hunt are best friends.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Red Ruffensoar

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Kenny Hackett?

Betty Kant!

Matt said...

Great post today Snobby....on a serious note, I read an article many years back in one of the bike mags...they did a study and found that when there was long hair sticking out the back of the cycling helmet (ie: looks like a girl) then passing cars gave that rider a wider berth almost all the time than they did for the cyclist who they thought was a guy (it was a guy in both parts of the test...he simply wore a wig while wearing the same kit and bike for the 'girl' half of the test). They had a following car videoing the vehicles as they passed the rider and they were able to go back after and determine the distance the cars gave as they passed.

So if we all just wear a long blonde pony-tail sticking out the back of our helmet, there you go...problem solved. Or not...maybe your NYC drivers just don't care? It would be a good test...one of you city-folk should try it and report back. (I can't remember what city they did the test in).

col.angus said...

don't forget me

janinedm said...

I wear a ponytail and when it's really hot and I don't want hair on my neck, I wear pigtails. I also bike in dresses not infrequently. It has not granted me immunity from close passes, though I have never ridden as a guy so I my study doesn't have a control.

Anonymous said...

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