Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vision? Zero!

I believe the children are our future.  Not only should we teach them well and let them lead the way, but we also need to show them all the beauty they possess inside.  Above all, we should give them a sense of pride.

Sorry, those aren't my words, I'm paraphrasing the popular song by Sexual Chocolate.

Still, that makes them no less true, and when it comes to teaching children not to get killed by the adults who can't be bothered to watch out for them there's no more effective method than hip hop-styled PSAs:

The video of the song will now be used as part of the Cross This Way curriculum — a new educational initiative, jointly offered by the city’s Transportation and Education Departments, that will be taught to students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

It’s an educational arm of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign to eliminate fatalities and injuries by vehicles.

The Cross This Way curriculum, aimed at 300,000 schoolchildren, will be announced today at P.S. 124 in Gowanus, near where a 10-wheel truck fatally ran over two fifth-grade students in 2004.

I don't know about you, but when I hear that two children have been killed by trucks and the city is responding by showing "an extremely catchy hip-hop song" in schools I immediately start cringing.  Even the writer of the Times article senses something amiss;

But remember: Although these younger pedestrians are doing their part to avoid accidents, street safety remains primarily the responsibility of the drivers.


Given this, I put off watching the video for as long as possible, but I finally ate my metaphorical veggies and here it is:

After watching this video, I felt conflicted.  On one hand, it contains some good advice: watch where you're going, don't stare at your phone all the time, and so forth.  On the other hand, at certain points it absolves the drivers of responsibility and shifts the burden of safety entirely on the kids, which strikes me as unfair and somewhat irresponsible.  Consider this part, for example:

Sure, she's on the phone and she should be paying more attention, yada yada yada, but what about the driver totally violating her right of way?  Phone or no phone there's only so much you can do about these assholes constantly dry-humping the crosswalk with their SUVS, and if everybody stops for them then the terrorists have won.

Then again, it was lighter on the helmet propaganda than I expected, with only one instance of helmet-shaming:

Oh please, you don't need to wear a hemet every time you step onto a board with wheels.  He's rolling around Brooklyn, not dropping into a half-pipe.  Might as well tell the kids to wear helmets while they're walking.

But the most troubling part is the stop sign scene.  Here are the kids, plainly visible to the driver:

And here they are reacting in terror:

Because of course the driver doesn't stop:

Fair enough.  They don't stop most of the time.  But again, is it fair to the kids to enshrine and legitimize this sort of driver behavior and suggest that it's them and not the drivers who are doing something wrong?  Frankly I'm not sure, but according to the video here's what the kids are supposed to be doing.  First, they're supposed to stop and look:

Okay.  Then, they're supposed to make eye contact:

This is extremely bad advice.  One of the first things I learned in motorcycle safety school (which I recommend to all cyclists as a lot of what you learn carries over to bicycling) is that eye contact with a driver does not mean they see you.  They may appear to be looking at you, but they're usually just looking through you, and we've all experienced that sense of shock and disbelief when they come right at you even though you think you've got them riveted with your steely gaze.

In short, eye contact don't mean shit.

Yet the video takes this flawed concept even further and then tells them to wave at the driver:


Because sure, they may be letting you go, but what about the asshole behind them who doesn't feel like waiting and goes around them?  Never, ever, ever let a driver be your eyes, because nobody is less aware of their surroundings than a driver.

And this bit of advice was particularly vexing:

How are you supposed to do that exactly?  Eye contact doesn't work, and letting them wave you through is dangerous.  Frankly, I'd have been more comfortable if they'd suggested this:

But again, I'm conflicted.  What's worse: legitimizing bad driver behavior, or pretending it doesn't exist?  I don't know, but one thing is for sure: kids are kids, so putting even more responsibility on them when it comes to traffic safety is completely unrealistic and utterly ridiculous.

Meanwhile, in other local news, Citi Bike continues to desecrate New York City, this time by being in close proximity to a cat statue:

In 1998, the twin 18-foot-tall monuments, known as “Panthers” or “Pumas,” were brought back to vibrancy through a restoration financed by the City Parks Foundation. The sculptures were cleaned and repatinated, and the pedestals were cleaned and repaired.

But the dramatic spell they cast was shattered last week when a Citi Bike kiosk and solar panel, half as high as the monument, were installed directly in front of the north pedestal.

"Dramatic spell?"  Really?  I lived in close proximity to that park for something like 20 years and I had to look up where the fucking things were because I never even noticed them.  And even if I had noticed them, how does the Citi Bike station interfere with them in any way?  Look at the damn picture!  They're 18 feet above the fucking street!  Bikes or no bikes unless you're an NBA player on stilts you ain't seeing shit.

Still, the sculptor's great-granddaughter is disgusted:

“I’m sure Proctor and White would both be horrified,” Laura Proctor Ames, the sculptor’s great-granddaughter, said after seeing a photograph sent by The New York Times. “We were not aware of it, and I have a pit in my stomach.” Ms. Ames is the director of the A. Phimister Proctor Museum in Hansville, Wash.

Yeah, no shit you weren't aware of it--because you live in fucking Hansville, Washington!  So who gives a shit what you think?

And here's someone who turned to Facebook to inform the world that she's "apoplectic:"

Michele H. Bogart, the author of “Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930,” wrote on her Facebook page, “Someone who approves locations is not using his or her brain cells.”

“I am apoplectic,” she wrote. “It is an absurdity. The ‘Panthers’ are a major N.Y.C. monument by a major late-19th-century American sculptor. They are in the collection of the city, and you can’t just go putting structures next to works like these.”

Ms. Bogart asked, “Who gave approval to place kiosks and stands in a place that totally destroys the views into the park?”

Those who know aren’t saying.

Firstly, in the list of "major NYC monuments," these panthers rank somewhere between Famous Original Ray's Pizza (doesn't matter which one, take your pick) and pretty much any given Muni-Meter.  Secondly, you know what really interferes with the enjoyment of these monuments and indeed enjoyment of the entire park?  ALL THE GODDAMN CARS SPEEDING AROUND AND THROUGH IT!  In fact, I probably never noticed the stupid things because if I had I'd probably have gotten run over while trying to admire them.

Maybe Michele H. Bogart, author of "Public Sculpture and the Civil Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930," should lease herself a Hyundai and drive it to Hansville, Washington.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

And try not to hit any kids, either.


recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Wednesday Scranus.

Buffalo Bill said...

Before Ted?

Anonymous said...

Woo Hoo! Berm Spank!

N/A said...

Helments for everybody!

Ted K. said...

172. First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better than human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.

Gecko said...

What does "repatinated" mean?

Did they clean it and then put some patina back on to make it look dirty again?

Or did someone just misspell "repainted"?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Robot PS - How TF am I supposed to know what "tea" looks like? There could be ANYTHING in those mugs.

Um, that's not vanilla GU gel said...

brilliant. thank you.

BamaPhred said...

heh heh heh, he said sphincter proctor heh heh heh. How much gravitas does that bring to the statues.

Spokey said...

finally back to top tendency

Pete Puma said...


leroy said...

What next? Re-purposing Diana Ross classic:

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T. My fault if you murder me."

As for the Prospect Park panthers, my dog says they aren't complaining....

Which makes him wonder if they are real New Yorkers.

(Captcha robot verification just showed me a picture and asked me to check all the squares with street signs. Got to respect that.)

Joe said...

Alright, who's the idiot who decided to put bicycles near the entrance of a park? WHAT THE HELL? Use your brain cells!

Anonymous said...

(pounds on the hood): The post's really late today!

BamaPhred said...

Is there a begriming bike kiosk in front of Bat Masterson's grave, in the Bronx? You know that Bat Masterson, scourge of Dodge City, a friend of Wyatt Earp. Nevermind, no one cares anymore.

Spokey said...

great to have a late post. got a nice ride in and was able to join the elite commentators

Serial Retrogrouch said...'s post is full of insults.

...not the invective coming from the SNOB. It's insults from the city authorities... and insults from so-called authorities on public sculptures.

...I cycle through prospect park pretty much every week... been doing it for the last 20 years or so... and I too don't know where those panthers are.

Spokey said...

hey the girl in the blue shirt wanking on her phone was paying attention. around :33-:34 she looks the driver of that (Hyundai?) before it mows her down.

So was it that she neglected to wave? Or the fault of the driver making an illegal turn and assaulting her with a deadly weapon?

1904 Cadardi said...

How dare do right next to ! Why it's a travesty that is not at the forefront of everybody's thoughts at all times!

Mark S. Lafite said...

Panthers? Pumas?? I thought they were cougars, aka catamounts, aka mountain lions! They're at the Third Street entrance and ARE FANTASTIC, as they seem about to leave their pedestals and go into Park Slope with appetites.

1904 Cadardi said...

Wow, that did not render correctly, let me try again.

How dare name of person or organization do something I don't care about right next to something I do care about! Why it's a travesty that obscure reference is not at the forefront of everybody's thoughts at all times!

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

If history has taught us anything, it is that if you pound on the hood of a car and yell Stop Sign Mother Fucker!, the driver will be an off duty cop and brandish his gun when he gets out of his car.

Leroy, they can do whatever they want with Diana Ross' R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but don't mess with Aretha's!

What did the Proctor Browns say to the Proctor White?

You must be new around here!

N/A said...

If a bike rack placed at the entrance to a park and next to some statues that nobody cares about causes you to become apoplectic, then you don't have enough going on in your life. I assume that person is some self-important fuck-0.

JLRB said...

Any pussy worth its whiskers will distract attention away from bikes, not the other way around.


Disrespected said...

Holy crap internet, Respect is an Aretha Franklin song, definitely not Diana Ross. Ya think all female music icons sound alike?

Proper "Hey, who turned out the lights?" Dave said...

Well it sure as hell isn't Gracie Slick!@

Martin Amis said...

The Citi Bike near the statues is just another example of the great NYC spondee massacre.

Mrs. Snob said...

So much anger. I liked our relationship better when you used your time making fun of fixies and silly collabos.

Dooth said...

So, Laura thinks the bike stations are in poor taste next to her great grandpa's masterpiece. She'd rather have them wallow in obscurity than be admired by smart citibike users. Great grandpa Proctor is unapologetically apoplectic in his grave.

bad boy of the north said...

Bamafred,my old girlfriend from high school and I rode our bikes through the same place where bat was laid to rest,in the late 70s and were chased out by an armed security least I think he was armed.he followed us with his trusty steed of a car out to the exit.bat would've been pleased.

Spokey said...

maybe not so bad here in the hemorrhoids.

stopped at a local stand a couple days ago to pick up a tomato. didn't try the porta-john but don't think anyone would have objected. the little old lady did say it was too hot to be bieking and proceeding to round the price down to the dollar.

if anyone is interested, i can donate the damn cat so you can put him up on a concrete block and patina-ize him.

dancesonpedals said...

"Don't let someone else be your eyes"

A friend grew up in Queens, never had a problem crossing the notorious blvd. Freshman year at SUNY Binghamton, she got belted by a driver going east, after the driver going west waved her across.

OTOH, the settlement for the broken leg paid for tuition at NYU.

On a Pedestal said...

More people will probably look up and notice those statues than ever before, now that they have to stop to dock/undock their Citi Bikes.

Anonymous said...

Drivers waving you on; I've heard police officers refer to that as "the death wave". How many times have you had someone try to wave you on when you can see a car coming from the other direction that isn't stopping? Kids (and everybody else for that matter) should treat that wave like it was an offer of candy from a stranger.

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

Eye contact? I look inside the car to see how far the driver has his head up his ass, then I proceed as if I was invisible.

Grump said...

Drivers might be more attentive if Grade schoolers were allowed to exercise their second amendment rights. A few cases of "self defense" and drivers might not make turns without looking.

babble on said...

What do you mean, Mr Grump? "As if they were?" Forget grade schoolers!

I heard that toddlers down there kill more people than terrorists do.

I'm invisible, for sure. A woman AND a person on a bike? You can't count for less than that. Forget invisible, for many it's as if I don't exist. Can't see what you don't believe in.

THAT's why I jump the lights on the stale red soon as the intersection is clear. It's also why I take the lane if I'm moving the speed of traffic, and why I never, ever tuck in and out between parked cars but instead hold the line.

leroy said...

Lt Oblivious -- You're absolutely right! Diana did it, but Aretha owns it (with Otis Redding of course).

In my defense, my dog distracted me.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

HivemindX said...

If pedestrians aren't always in a catlike state of readiness how are they supposed to dive out of the way when someone in an SUV blows through their crosswalk? I mean it's just common sense.

As for getting the drivers attention I think the best way is to make eye contact while pointing a pistol at their head. I don't really believe an armed society is a polite society but I bet a lot mess motorists would cut me off or pull out in front of me if I had a machine gun.

McFly said...

I would totes brake for the girl/woman in the sky blue top with green fingernails. Gonna need to see that I.D. though. Don't want no Jared situation.

BamaPhred said...

Bbotn, cool story, glad you didn't get the full Bat Monty and got pistol whipped
And more from the land of Keith Maddox, we don't take kindly to runnin over cyclists. They may be crazy, but they are our crazy. .

Spokey said...


did i just here something?


for a moment i thought i heard something from vancouver. sorry my mistake.

well take off fuck-o-es. heading for the dry tortugas in a couple hours. if i run across master bateman, i'll put him on a cinder block and patina him.

Anonymous said...

Australia has the answer again! We are so far ahead of you on saftey!

"An Adelaide council wants all cyclists to wear high-visibility strips or clothing in an attempt to improve safety."

"Councillor Arthur Mangos said he had wanted a hi-vis rule for children, but it had expanded to all cyclists at the suggestion of other elected members.

Reversing out of my own driveway, I nearly bowled over a small child, and if I had seen the hi-vis helmet, and bright orange or bright green, I would have been more aware," he said."

Doc Sarvis said...

Someone who comments about all her blows to the head might be a little more circumspect about offering insights...

Persia said...

Drivers waving you on - they can get stuffed, who put them in charge of the roads? When I'm riding around, I'm the one doing the pointing and waving (coz I'm the only one with some competence in vehicle management) and drivers do what they're told.

That Adelaide councillor is so behind the times. We had a councillor in Melbourne call for the same thing back in 2005 and no-one took any notice then either.

Anyone who drives a car - or anything else with wheels - at a child is going straight to the hottest part of hell or your non-Deist equivalent.

Arizona hillbilly said...

Hey amigo, read "The moving target" by Paul Theroux.
Essentially he contends that Americans are base.
I would include Australians and Canadians,it wasn't mentioned in his essay,but that's been my experience.
Thanks for all your efforts

Ric said...

Hmmm, now that I think about it, Bat Masterson would be a great name for a baseball player.

plombier colombes said...


Anonymous said...

Damn, that boy can sing!

Anonymous said...

Say it don't spray it

Tom Smolen said...

I was never a Puma guy. They never fit well and didn't last.

As for the mis-informatin they're perpetrating in teh video, a significant point you left out is that, in training the kids to expect drivers to be assholes and making it their responsibility not to get hit and killed, you are subconciously training them to be future asshats behind the wheel because it'll be the next group of pedestrians fault for dying under their vehicles.

leroy said...

Is it just me or does anyone else expect the next Vision Zero sing along will be Alice Cooper's "Under My Wheels"?

Might just be me.

Dr. Feel Good said...

Snob, Nice use of the Mr. Natural saying of "Don't mean shit"! A blast from the counter culture past.

William Volk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Volk said...

I'm just HUGELY disappointed that they didn't use this song, with lyrics modded, as the theme:

Walk This Way

But I'm old.

bad boy of the north said...

Sorry about the misspelling bamaphred

bad boy of the north said...

Oh...and robot had me picking through a bike lane sign

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

In other news, an Australian woman paid more than the fine for riding a bike without a helment for surgery to save her choking goldfish. Since a goldfish breathes through its gills, I guess a fish isn't going to suffocate by swallowing something and choking on it, but the fish will probably just choke on something else again next week!

JLRB said...

Death be not proud RIP Dickey.

For those who want to opine about riding in cross walks - stuff it.

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Chris said...

I was a little skeptical at first about some of the claims that drivers don't see you, even in situations where you think they do (e.g., eye contact). I maintain a set of bike-car collision statistics for my hometown (Lincoln, NE), which involves reading a *lot* of accident reports, and I read one today in which the driver waved a child across the crosswalk, then hit him anyway and drove away. Seriously:

I'm sorry for ever doubting you. It's pretty astonishing the lengths drivers will go to to avoid seeing us (or, if they see us, caring where we are).

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