Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wait, it's not Wednesday today? Are you sure?

Well, with more cyclists than ever taking to the streets the Wall Street Journal wants to remind us all that whatever happens to us is our fault, and you can read all about it in the Bike Forecast:


I've since gotten the text of the accompanying article, and guess what it's fixated on?

Dr. Cook bikes to work from a Boston suburb, he says, enlisting a helmet, flashing lights and “obnoxiously” bright clothing to stay safe. He thinks Boston has tried to make cycling safe but worries about what lies ahead. Last year, at his initiative, Beth Israel Deaconess hosted a Bike Safety Day, where he and other trauma surgeons buttonholed people entering or leaving the hospital, handed out flashing reflectors and emphasized measures such as wearing a helmet and being visible while cycling.

Fun foam party hats and flashing lights for everybody!!!

But of course it's a cycling article, so it doesn't have to be accurate:
This is not to debate the efficacy of helmets, far from it.  Indeed, I'd argue that it's the most effective tool ever devised for the suppression of cycling.  Wearing one's just inconvenient enough for most people not to wanna bother, so when you factor in all the shaming it's not surprising that so many people ultimately arrive at the same conclusion:


Speaking of accessories, here's a nifty one I saw on the Kickstarter:


I also found the scranial heat cam highly convincing:


Of course this is not strictly speaking a full fender, and it does leave a void in the bicycle's scranial region:


Yes, bicycles do have scranuses:


Nevertheless, it does look rather handy, and potentially quite a bit tidier than other clip-on fender solutions, like the ones I've been using out of laziness:


Oh, and I suppose you noticed I've got a little extra slack in my chain.  Well, here's what happened: since putting this bike together maybe five or so years ago and traveling the world with it I've done virtually nothing in the way of maintenance save for changing the brake pads and squirting some lube on the chain.  I've also never cleaned any part of it.  Well, last time I went to ride it I noticed some stiff links (okay, a lot of stiff links), at which point I did what any sensible person would do, which is to squirt lube onto them until the chain passed through the derailleur again.

Did I have a perfectly good chain sitting in a drawer as I did this?

Yes.

Did I want to spend the extra five minutes it would have taken to install it?

Emphatically no.

Anyway, all was well until a few blocks into my ride, at which point I started up again at a green light and SNAP!

While not entirely unexpected I was nevertheless surprised, but fortunately my scranus was spared a high-velocity encounter with my top tube.  This I attribute in part to my expert bike-handling skills, and also to the fact that I was using flat pedals, and so I was spared the indignity of a sudden release.  Anyway, after the chain ass-ploded I removed the broken link and reattached it, and you'd better believe I'd have called it good indefinitely if in the process I didn't notice at least one other cracked link waiting for a second scranial assassination attempt.

Therefore, at my earliest opportunity I stopped at a bike shop and purchased and installed a new chain, and all was once again right with the world--until the next thing breaks, which given the state of that bike could be absolutely anything:


I'm quite fortunate the chain didn't decide to break the day I took the bike to the mountain bike trails.

Moving on, a reader has forwarded me more evidence that the bicycle is humanity's savior:



Charity Ruiz, her husband and two daughters were leaving their Coffey Park neighborhood by car when they were stopped by the exodus of neighbors also trying to leave the area. 

Panicked by the flames, Ruiz instead decided to instead use a bicycle to get out of the area. She used a family bicycle hooked up to a toddler trailer to get her two children out, with Ruiz pedaling — despite being due the following week.

Amazing.

If you needed proof that Americans are not fit for survival consider that when confronted with calamity the very first thing we do is get in our cars and drive.  This generally has two outcomes: 1) We sit in traffic with all the other schmucks; 2) Whatever the calamity is soon engulfs us:


Certainly in New York we've weathered everything from transit strikes to blackouts to hurricanes to terror attacks, and in each and every case the bicycle has proved itself indispensable:


There is only one downside, which is that it's only a matter of time before disaster tourist Lucas Brunelle "drops" a video of himself riding through the smoke and flames of Napa and Sonoma:


"Sizzle reel" indeed.

44 comments:

  1. Short on any palmaresOctober 12, 2017 at 2:49 PM

    No disembodied hand - congratulations!

    And podium?

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  2. Read and bang! Foam party hat

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  3. Never thought that would happen,everyone else must be on vacation

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  4. wait i call BS: """Therefore, at my earliest opportunity I stopped at a bike shop and purchased and installed a new chain,"

    but EARLIER you said "Did I have a perfectly good chain sitting in a drawer as I did this?

    Yes. "

    AHA

    this story is obvs made up or your poetic license should be revoked...

    wle

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  5. Why is Lucas Brunelle riding around with two vintage 80s Betamax cameras strapped to his helmet? Perhaps he had a Sony sponsorship in the 80s, GoPro won't touch him with a 10 foot pole in the 2010s, and he's too cheap to actually buy a new camera system. In any case, Brunelle looks like an idiot, which is fitting given that he IS an idiot.

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  6. Scrainial assassination. Much scarier to world leaders than regular assassination.

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  7. So as long as a fender is barely longer than a filth prophylactic, it's considered full length?

    Must have been one of the reasons to consult "biking expert Ben".

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  8. wle,

    I didn't want to go back home so the chain is still in its drawer where I will neglect to install it on the next bike with a seized chain.

    --Wildcat Etc.

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  9. "Oh, and I suppose you noticed I've got a little extra slack in my chain. ... Well, last time I went to ride it I noticed some stiff links (okay, a lot of stiff links), at which point I did what any sensible person would do, which is to squirt lube onto then until the chain passed through the derailleur again."

    You have a future in erotic literature of the bike fetish variety.

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  10. "I didn't want to go back home so the chain is still in its drawer where I will neglect to install it on the next bike with a seized chain."

    IT DON'T WASH, BUB!!

    WHERE WERE YOU ON THE NIGHT OF THE 14TH!? DID ANYONE SEE YOU THERE?!?

    VE HAVE ZE **VAYS** OF MAKINK YOU TALK@!!!


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  11. Got this from a colleague today as I rode my bike helmetless around our traffic-free school campus: "Where's yer helmet?! You know what I call people like you? DONORS!" BWAHAHAHA. Can anyone point me to some good data on re: the correlation between helmet use and mortality rates for cyclists, so that might shame him?

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  12. ...I thought the plural of scranus is scranii (pronounced scray-knee), not scranuses.

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  13. WSJ: the last place for accurate bike info.October 12, 2017 at 3:38 PM

    Wall Street Journal of Bike Hates. Bike Share bikes have the lowest rate of helmet use and the lowest fatality and injury rates, kind of like how the Netherlands and Denmark have the lowest helmet use and the lowest fatality and injury rates. In fact in Madison Wi there has never been a fatality or even an injury on a bike share bike in 7 years of operation. So Fuck the Helmet Worshippers and their BS anecdotal evidence. Ronnie Reagan was big on his phony anecdotal stories and he was a liar too. What a load of BS that the WSJ implies that bike share bikes are causing problems when the opposite is true.

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  14. FYI the hyperlink in the first paragraph directs to the pregnant woman story instead of the forecast.

    Thanks

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  15. Lack of trouble vis-a-vis chain maintenance is where the Dandy Horse really shines. I'll bet that Baron Karl Drais had a scranus full of splinters, though.

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  16. Cat 6 Colorado,

    Thanks!

    --Wildcat Etc.

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  17. Jake,

    The proper comeback is, "Do you know what they call people like you? ASSHOLES."

    --Wildcat Etc.

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  18. That fender thingy looks pretty cool, except 2/3rds or American bicyclers do not understand how to close a quick release properly. In fact, they usually rely on the "lawyer's tabs to hold the front wheel on.....Snobby, did your sideplate actually crack, or did the pin just pull out of the sideplate???......

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  19. Admit it Wildcat, that chain didn't snap due lack of maintenance, it's your tremendous power. At least that what I told myself the last time I broke a chain (coincidentally also on my travel bike).

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  20. ...Snob, maybe it's time you get full coverage fenders and maybe even a chain case for all your bikes... that way your chains will outlive your bikes.

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  21. Hey Commander Snob!

    I've been reading the comments sections on the bike forecast site, and... well... dear god! Between the VC stuff and the "respect for our communities" stuff, you have really been getting a huge pile of [i]it[/i] lately.

    Well I have a lot to say about cycling in Westchester as I have been deep in it for like 25 years now, but I will spare you most of it. I just wanted to say that I have very deep roots here, but even I have a lot of trouble respecting our communities.

    As for the VC stuff, I get why it was important, and made sense back in the 70's. Hell that was 10 years before Lemond won the tour, and even Breaking Away was a few years away. Most bikes sold in the US probably had pretend gas tanks and car style shifters and 'Krate' in the name. Times have changed however, and thankfully people figured out that mixing cars and bikes, (much like mixing trains and cars) does not make for safe infrastructure.

    Anyway, sorry you have to deal with stuff like this. Please don't get burned out reading the men's-room-wall-at-the-bus-station that is the modern internet.

    Also, it's fucking nice out, so go ride! I hear there is some new trail at the Sprain named charcoal, so get riding!

    PS A week or two ago I was heading out to Jacob Riis park, and there was Agoing on that closed the walkway of the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. Thoughtfully, they had shuttle buses that whisked me right across! Any idea if this is on ongoing thing?

    CAPTCHA - "Please select all the images with cars" ... Ye'alll ain't from round here, are ye?

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  22. Serial Retrogrouch,

    The WorkCycles is my Dedicated Chain Case Bike, and I've been putting full fenders on my Milwaukee in the winter.

    Grump,

    Sideplate cracked

    --Wildcat Etc.

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  23. N/A said- "Lack of trouble vis-a-vis chain maintenance is where the Dandy Horse really shines. I'll bet that Baron Karl Drais had a scranus full of splinters, though."

    While that is technically true, I assure that my P-far is every bit as neglected as any other bike I own. It's got loose cotter cranks, bearing issues, spoke issues, etc.

    Fuck it! I'm leasing a horse!

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  24. Don't waste logic on the Helmet CultistsOctober 12, 2017 at 4:00 PM

    Great answer for Jake. There are all sorts of statistics proving the futility of bike helmets at www.cyclehelmets.org/ ; but the the Helmet Worshipers don't care, even about the obvious examples of the Bike Share Bikes, or the entire countries of the Netherlands and Denmark. All they care about is their dubious anecdotal evidence, and they kind of secretly like that bike helmets suppress bike riding and keep "their" bike lanes less crowded. So yeah in those very rare instances when people tell me to wear a helmet (usually a helmetless pedestrian), I tell them to go wear a fucking helmet, and i usually add a couple more expletives, and "Mind your Own Business, Cheesehead"

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  25. Wildcat,

    This week I installed my winter ear muffins (which filter out all high pitched squeaky noises) in my foam healmunt, so I don't have to worry about drivetrain maintenance until spring. I don't know about the helmond's efficacy in a crash, but it sure does help me avoid doing maintenance!
    A thick layer of winter grime and commuting in the dark also helps to prevent you from noticing any mechanical issues.

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  26. ...some years ago I gave one of my bikes to my brother... one day he was riding up a hill and the chain snapped, sending him over the handlebars. he ended up breaking both bones in one arm... and now has titanium plates longer than that ass-ymmetrical fender in his arm.

    ...just an anecdote... but i've since been much more diligent with maintaining my chains and brakes.

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  27. Federico F. FredriksenOctober 12, 2017 at 4:42 PM

    So based on the information in the WSJ video, I'm supposed to go out and buy new shoes, socks, and lights for my feet and ankles whenever I go for a ride, otherwise drivers won't be able to tell if I'm a person or a sign? Which one of those things do drivers not realize they're supposed to avoid hitting?

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  28. Anecdotal evidence is evidence. It may not be strong evidence, it may not be persuasive, it may even be dubious or misleading, but to act as if it doesn’t bear on the subject seems to me very strange. Why, I’ve even seen a photo on this blog of our wily, wise, and wonderful wildcat wearing a helmet when just traveling about and not racing a Brompton (I’m assuming he doesn’t just sometimes digitally add the foam hat to a photo of himself for amusement). I'm thinking he has reason to believe that there are times when it is the thing to do. Or maybe he just likes wearing it at times: his version of cross-dressing--I doubt it though.

    RE: Don’t waste logic on the Helmet cultists: I assume you have more than anecdotal evidence that “Helmet worshipers” secretly like that bike helmets suppress bike riding and keep "their" bike lanes less crowded. Honestly, that sounds like something one just makes up to please oneself. But maybe I’m wrong. It happens. I'm always happy to hear an explanation.

    DISCLAIMER: Nothing in the comments above is intended to tell anyone to wear a helmet. That’s a fact.

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  29. For what it's worth, I kind of like wearing a helmet. I have about a half dozen in different styles so I can wear whatever is appropriate for the outside temperature and whatever fits my mood. I also mostly ride MTB. I can see a lot of good arguments for slacking on the helmet usage for city riding, but MTBing without a helmet seems kind of stupid (it's not like slapping on a foam hat is a big inconvenience and it allegedly offers protection). I really don't want to get a head injury when I take a header into a rock pile, which I have done on a few occasions, and I really don't want to have to explain to my wife why I wasn't wearing a helmet when she visits my stupid ass in the hospital. (For what it's worth, I also kind of like being able to use silverware to feed myself and being able to wipe my own ass and I would like to keep it that way.)

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  30. Snob... what about the car! is it gone?!?

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  31. Anonymous 5:21pm,

    Not like I'm trying to defend my non-helmet bonafides by any means but I don't remember the last time I wore a helmet when "just traveling about."

    If I wear a helmet it's usually because:

    --I have to (a race or similar event);
    --I know I'll be passing through a place where I could be ticketed (Palisades Interstate Park and the town of Nyack for example have helmet laws and occasionally enforce them);
    --I'm mountain biking (most parks with trails require them and I don't mind complying with rules in those places in the same way I don't mind wearing bowling shoes while bowling; it's all recreational and rules come with the territory);

    I also tend to don one for a group ride since I'm putting on all the other goofy clothes anyway and it puts me in a racy frame of mind, though it's been awhile since I've done any kind of group road ride.

    --Wildcat Etc.


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  32. BSNYC…Likely the second reason you gave. I have a memory of seeing a photo you took that showed your reflection in a (storeshop?) window. My first thought was, unless that’s a black cat atop his head, he’s wearing a helmet, which of course you were. You may even have explained why. I can’t remember.

    That was a while back. Seems your bonafides are credible (not that you’re trying to defend them). Thanks for clarifying.

    -Anonymous from 5:21 PM

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  33. bad boy of the southOctober 12, 2017 at 7:20 PM

    the fenders are a pretty good idea.i wonder how many sizes they might come in.

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  34. Karaoke night playlist edit:

    "I feel stupid and contagious,

    Snapped my chain now; slammed my scranus."

    (Not referring to you Mr. BSNYC; my dog says I'm due.)

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  35. Brad Aaron at Streetsblog summarized the WSJ article pretty nicely: "Streets Are Designed for Death and Doctors Are Fixated on Helmets and Reflectors" (although i appreciated the illustrated commentary here as always).

    http://nyc.streetsblog.org

    And i want that T-shirt!

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  36. Helmet hysteria reached a new low when an Australian bicycle shop owner said I was going to DIE if I wore a $10 k-mart helmet rather than one of his $200 pieces of polystyrene. I only wear a helmet to prevent helmet fines - no other reason at all.

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  37. Hey! Whatever happened to Vito? Did he have a helmutt?

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  38. Loved the Santa Rosa escape piece. My wife says bikes are the way to go for zombie attacks too, zombies apparently frequenting gas stations.

    This morning's air (Oakland/Berkeley) was getting nearer the limit of even my tolerance for riding, but ironically, with all the local public schools closed and with it the usual combat zone cluster fuck drop-offs missing and traffic light anywhere within a half mile radius of any place of education or child storage, it was actually not an unpleasant ride at a slow, easy breathing pace.

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  39. Mr. Peabody and ShermanOctober 13, 2017 at 3:32 PM

    If Friday is quiz day, and there is no quiz, does that mean everyone aced it? Kind of like a tree falling in the forest.

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  40. Cat 6 Colorado @ 3:40 The pregnant woman story, did her husband transport her to the delivery room via cargo bike while she screamed "Oh, Oh, Oh Baby"? No, wait, wrong scream for labor, that's for something else.

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  41. july 1991, riding along side heavy traffic when the fork on my TVT/lemond crapon fiber bike snapped off depositing me head first onto the pavement... torn scalp from between eyes up and over top of skull and down to right ear level... compressed spinal area and massive loss of blood, etc... three days in the ICU, paralyzed right side and bed ridden for about a week...
    i wasn't wearing a helmet... now i always wear when riding... i ride daily... so just do as you please but don't smoke cigarettes so your parts are usable...

    what the fuck are your reasons to exclude robots from commenting?

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