Friday, June 8, 2018

Bikes Will Be The Ruin of Civilization. Obviously.

So much happy news today!

I mean really, where to even begin?  Aw, what the hell, let's start with this one:

Fitts, who admitted that he struck and killed 80-year-old Theodore Schwalb in an Allston crosswalk Wednesday afternoon, was on television a few hours later, blithely confessing to what sounds a lot like vehicular manslaughter.

“As I’m driving, I’m driving too quick . . . to the point where it’s like, I couldn’t really stop,” Fitts told Boston 25 News reporter Drew Karedes, who should get a medal for not punching this guy in the face on the spot. Fitts also said the light was green and that he beeped at the man repeatedly but struck him with his SUV because swerving would have led him into a pole.

Why could he honk repeatedly but not brake? That was left unstated. And as for why he didn’t bother to stop?

“People hit and run people all the time,” Fitts said. This is sadly true, but it’s also not much of a legal defense: Fitts was arrested later that evening.

Infuriating?  Yes.  Surprising?  No.  Rhetorical questions?  Absolutely.  See, motorist entitlement long ago reached the point where people act like they're driving locomotives on dedicated rights-of-way instead of private vehicles on shared public thoroughfares, and that whatever or whoever wanders into their path simply gets what's coming to them.  I seem to remember learning all sorts of stuff in drivers' ed about driving slowly around children and yielding at crosswalks and watching for balls rolling into the street and reducing speed in wet conditions and poor visibility and all the rest of it, but in practice that's emphatically not how it works.  (Except in the Hamptons.  Drivers will totally yield to you when you're in the crosswalk in the Hamptons.  But that's only because they realize it's possible you may be a fellow rich person and they don't want to take the chance.)

No, the way it works is that green means go and red means stop--well unless it turned red and the driver in front of you held you up, in which case you're allowed to run the light because you should have made it if only the person in front of you hadn't decided to turn.  Also, the speed limit is a speed minimum, and you should never take your surroundings into account.  School zone?  Park?  Shopping area?  Doesn't matter.  Simply go as fast as you can get away with confident in the knowledge that anybody stupid enough to venture into the street deserves to die.  Blizzard coming?  Don't modify your behavior in any way, just go forth into the breach just as you would on a summer's day:

Whether it's blizzards, or floods, or their fellow human beings, drivers just can't stop driving right into stuff.

But let's not lose sight of the real problem, which of course is bikes.  In particular, dockless bikes are ending up in vast graveyards that will soon engulf the entire planet:

Oh, wait, sorry.  Those are cars.

Here's one of those bike graveyards:

Chilling--if you've never seen a landfill, that is:

All the shit we use just ends up in giant piles, most of which are right in our backyards, but sure, let's freak out about those bikes in China.

Anyway, given what I knew about the "litter bike" phenomenon (that being limited to what's been written in news articles that use phrases like "litter bike), I watched with interest as a dockless bike program launched in Yonkers recently:

I live just a few miles from the New York City/Yonkers border, and my rides take me through there regularly, which meant finally I'd have a chance to see the devastation wrought by dockless bike-sharing systems firsthand:

Indeed, as it happened, I didn't even have to go to Yonkers, because shortly after launch the bikes started migrating here to the Bronx:

This was only natural, since (as I wrote in the Bike Forecast) it's a straight shot down from Yonkers and it's now super easy for Yonkersians to hop on a Lime and access our deeply dysfunctional subway system.

Of course, technically you're not supposed to use these bikes to go to the Bronx.  In fact, just the other day I walked out of my home only to find a Lime Detector Van (not to be confused with the Cat Detector Van from the Ministry of Housinge, yes I am a huge dork) on my street.  In it were two people from Lime (or a contractor representing Lime, I don't know how they work) looking around my building looking for an errant velocipede that was apparently popping up on their tracking system.  Naturally at this moment a neighbor saw me emerge and instructed them to talk to me about the lost bike, since as the resident cyclist obviously I should know where it is.

Anyway, even though Lime is actively rounding up their wayward bikes and the system isn't supposed to be operating in New York City, they're still a regular sight around these parts:

And as of this morning had encroached upon the Isle of Manhattan:

Now I should not that as an anal retentive sort I prefer the idea of an orderly, docking system.  However, I can assure you I have no problem with the Lime bikes invading my territory, and in fact it makes me happy whenever I see one because it's tangible evidence that people want and need to ride bicycles across different municipalities.  I can also see myself using them, though so far apart from a test run I haven't had occasion to do so.  Plus, they just seem to sit there on the sidewalk not hurting anybody, so what's the big deal?

Surely however it must be a different situation in Yonkers, where there are thousands (I'm assuming) of the things, and where one even got tossed in the river:

Ironically the only reason you can still see it is it's probably sitting on a pile of car parts.

Well, it's been a few weeks now, and on my regular rides through that city I can say that the Lime bikes are indeed begriming the city by sitting primly in front of libraries, train stations, and other such places:

Furthermore, incredibly, none of these bikes are sticking out of smashed car windshields or up in trees or lying across railroad tracks.  So far the worst thing I've seen is one that was upside down, which will only rattle you if you're the sort of person who thinks "Wacky Wednesday" was a horror story:

("The giraffe is in the sewer!  There is no God...")

Otherwise it's pretty tame stuff.

It's almost like people find bikes useful and that they integrate themselves into everyday life fairly seamlessly.

Who'da thunk it?

Finally, Lauf are Lauf-ing all the way to the bank with their front-suspended gravel bikes:

Yep, looks like the cross-country mountain bike is officially going the way of multiple chain rings and rim brakes and drop-bar all-terrain whatevers are the future:

If the fork doesn’t convince you that the True Grit is part of the mountain bike family tree, the geometry will.

The 1,120-gram carbon frame is designed with a longer cockpit to pair with a shorter stem — 394 millimeters of reach with a 90-millimeter stem on the Medium Long model we rode. Plus, the head tube angle is very laid back at 70.5 degrees. Sounds a bit like a cross-country hardtail, doesn’t it?

Maybe so, but I'm holding out until Rivendell makes a gravel fork:

Wonder if there will be a disc version.


Anonymous said...

the loony detector van is what you mean

English Major Fred said...

At least one punctuation error and one spelling error (really using the the wrong correctly spelled word) in today's post.

wishiwasmerckx said...

EMF, did you really employ a sentence fragment to complain (obliquely) about BSNYC's spelling and punctuation?


HDEB said...

My kids were at the Kids for Speed Cameras in school zones ralley yesterday, they were the ones eating bananas while the rest of the kids had candy, they love me ; )

Yes, In "The Hamptons" drivers diligently stop for you when you are in a crosswalk in downtown, it is because of the numerous TCO's who hand out many tickets to motorists. Motorists will stop for you even if you appear poor, my style might often be described as super casual borderline homeless. However, out in douchebag land on the wank of Lung Guyland it is illegal to ride a bicycle on most Main Streets.

As someone who prioritizes skiing over nearly all else, I belligerently drive into the most intense blizzards I can find. I've driven a front wheel drive vehicle past literally hundreds (thousands?) of SUV's stuck in the snow. My most exciting drive ever was in Feb 2013 on the LIE, so many people got stuck the highway was closed for days. My wife was begging me to take shelter with our children under an overpass. I am a dumb man and fantastic at driving in the snow. We made it safely to our destination and I was happily skiing the next day.

Imagine that I am so clueless and self-important that I bothered to write any of this : )

in the peleton said...

Attack of the Lime Green bicycles?
Heaven's to Betsy.

Bill said...

"The only thing wacky here is you."

bad boy of the south said...

i'm sure that car parts aren't the only things the lime bike is possibly resting on.

dancesonpedals said...

It's getting creative out there. Yesterday I saw a couple in Central Park riding a Cannondale tandem 29er. I'd dearly love to see them descend some singletrack.

N/A said...

Merckx: his parenthetical statement was a little dodgy, as well. These days, though, it could be excused as "style" of the writer.

I would trade all the English Majors for one modern Major General.

theEel said...


wishiwasmerckx said...

N/A, I'm flattered that you asked.

I am the very model of a modern Major-General
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical
About binomial theorem I am teeming with a lot o' news
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

Hee Haw the barista said...

Fork horror is no laufing matter.

Meta Fred said...

"EMF, did you really employ a sentence fragment to complain (obliquely) about BSNYC's spelling and punctuation?"

"...his parenthetical statement was a little dodgy, as well."

Paris in the the spring said...

"...his parenthetical statement was a little dodgy, as well."

On the Internet You Can What You Dearly Love said...

"Yesterday I saw a couple in Central Park riding a Cannondale tandem 29er. I'd dearly love to see them descend some singletrack."

More precisely single track

Freddy Murcks said...

Here's a linkway to a story from Salt Lame City about the dangers posed by bicycles and how people die all the time because of careless bicyclists. Oh wait, that's yet another story about how some jackass drove his car into a Starbucks and killed and maimed a bunch of people who were happily minding their own bizness and drinking their morning coffee. Oopsie. My bad.

BamaPhred said...

I’m digging that chrome plated springer fork. It makes me want to put ape hangers, banana seat, and a 20” wheel on the front of my road bike.
Not really, too much work

Gecko said...

Wonder if there will be a disc version. - WCRM

That IS the disc version! (look closely)

Some guy from upstate said...

Huge dork? Rubbish. I consider it one of my most significant achievements that both of my daughters can correctly respond to any piece of Holy Grail dialog.

leroy said...

Ride safe all!

Anonymous said...

more often than not, drivers will honk and not touch the brakes. would add some levity as part of the thelma and louise final scene.

dop said...

This has been a thing? For ten years? Why didn’t anybody tell me?

ps...the only descending was falling over

sweatpants cyclist said...

Front suspension is requisite larger than #4 size gravel (golf ball sized). Although one may also be advised to employ front suspension on common, topcoat #57 sized gravel (nickel sized), wherever long term endurance is warranted. Seek counsel of your local quarryman to calibrate your suspension for optimum performance-to-comfort ratio.

Anonymous said...

The guy riding with yellow rubber gloves needs to raise his seat.

EscapedWI said...

"Drum only" option on the Rivendell gravel fork...

Top 45-

SoonerNate said...

I miss my Giant AL1.75 with canti brakes, grip shifters, bar ends, and 26” wheels with Kevlar beaded tires. Sold it to pay for school. Today I test rode a pedal assist ‘lectric bike with hydraulic disc brakes. We have come so far. I still don’t want a car. With modern bikes, I don’t need a car. Besides, cars turn people into monsters.

dop said...

A Tale of Two bikeshops:

I ride in from Tarrytown to midtown once a week. (32 miles) I rarely get out in time to make it home by dark, & the bike sits in the hospital garage, until I either catch a ride home with my wife, or get stuck on the late train, which allows bikes. Friday afternoon it looked like I would get out by 5:30 and would have a shot, but I wound up on the phone from 4:30-6:00. By the time I was on the bike (dentist bike) it was after seven, and the right shifter was broken, the cassette stuck in the largest cog. I pulled on the der, up 2 cogs, and I rode it as a 2 speed to Yonkers, and waited 20 minutes on the platform & took MNR home.

I was left with 2 broken fredsleds.

My old fredsled sat unrepaired since March in the bike room of my mother in laws apartment near columbus cicle. It's 1996 casati, and I took it around the corner to Toga, with trepidation. They'd been snotty in the past. To my surprise, I was treated like a rock star. Where did I buy it? (R&A) Steel is Real!!. The handlebars wouldn't turn. My headset needed reacking, 30 bucks, pick it up tomorrow. (I did, this afternoon. Repeat performance with all who hadn't seen it yesterday).

Back home in Westchester at 5 today, I rushed to a suburban bike shop that was open until 6. Mild admiration for the titanium fredsled. It went to the mechanic who explained that he'd have to take the shifter apart and relube it, replace my bar tape & cables (btw, the shifter was working after whatever he did.)My deraileur was bent and would have to be replaced. My chain was worn (look at the chain gauge!!!) and I'd have to change the cassette with the chain. I'll have to order a cassete for you.

Baloney. There's only 900 miles on the bike & until the shifter broke, the chain moved over the gears without a problem. "Forget the chain and sprocket, I'll take care of it myself"

"You'll bring them to me?"

"I'll change it myself' (not)

The derailleur was fine, but the hanger was bent (I learned something on the fondont).

That left the unnecessary tape & cable, but what the hell, he fixed it & took care of it at 6 pm on Sunday. Whatever made the shifter punk out, It's good to have him overhaul it so it doesn't happen again. That got it down from380 to 170, my lesson to not force the rear der.

I'm never going back there.

A long rant, thanks for a place to vent.

Submitted for Your Dissaproval said...

(if you have not seen this already.)

Anonymous Submitted for Your Dissaproval said...

It gets worse:

JLRB said...

Rainy days and mondays ...

JLRB said...

40 year sentence for Michigan asshead who plowed into cyclists killing 5

Pist Off said...

40 years is an actual sentence, which is a start, but seems awfully lenient for killing five people. No criminality suspected?

bad boy of the south said...


Ben said...

How am I supposed to post here when the parking is now a bike lane?

pbateman does not in fact, have skid marks said...

hey @submitted for my disapproval

that is indeed a rather irksome video you shared.

i have better skid marks in the undies i'm currently wearing.