Friday, May 29, 2015

BSNYC Friday No Quiz, Because When I Get Angry There's No Quiz

Greetings from New York, America's Most Bike-Friendly City according to Bicycling magazine!

There are a lot of reasons why we're number one: our incrementally expanding bike infrastructure; our courteous police department; our mindful drivers...  Without a doubt though our greatest asset as a cycling city is our enlightened media:

Consider the front page of yesterday's New York Post, which I'm not going to link to because fuck 'em.  Basically they're now following the so-called "killer cyclist" who collided with a pedestrian in Central Park and waiting for him to screw up, which he eventually did (well, sort of), much to the delight of Rupert Murdoch's ball-ticklers.

So what did he do?

He ran a red light while carrying his kid on his bike:

The saxophonist slowed down as he approached a red light on Park Avenue at East 118th Street — but blew through the signal rather than wait for it to turn green.

Okay.  This guy?  Not a fan.  He hit a woman while riding his bike in Central Park and she died as a result.  Nobody seems to know for sure how fast he was going or who had the light but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter.  It's a park.  Even if you're going 5mph and you hit somebody you were going too goddamn fast.  Furthermore, the fact that he wasn't charged doesn't necessarily absolve him, because this is New York City, and we fail to charge drivers who kill people on nearly a daily basis.

All of the above notwithstanding, what the Post is doing here is disgusting.  First of all, read the quote above and tell me how he could have "slowed down as he approached a red light" and then "blew through the signal."  This defies physics.  You can't slow and then blow.  Everybody knows that--especially people who work for the Post, because Rupert Murdoch is constantly reminding them of this while they're fellating him.

("Don't slow, blow!," admonishes Murdoch as he pushes an employee's head downward.)

Secondly, when has the Post ever followed a motorist who's killed somebody?  Granted, I realize there's a practical reason for this, which is that last year motorists killed 178 cyclists and pedestrians in New York City.  Certainly the Post can't follow all these drivers.  It's simple mathematics.  After all, if everyone's busy chasing drivers then who's left to blow Murdoch?

("Where is everyone?!?  I need a blowie here!!!")

Thirdly--and this is the big one--they put a great big picture of this guy's kid on the front page!  Just imagine this kid walking past a deli and asking his father why he's on the front of the newspaper.  I don't care what this guy did, just thinking about that kid having to experience that is fucking heartbreaking--and I'd think the same thing if his father had killed someone with a car or a plane or even a goddamn steamroller for that matter.

Then, to top it all off, these lowlives at the Post publish were the kid goes to school!

He rode on the sidewalk on [deleted], between [deleted], and then dropped off his young son at the [deleted].

That's just sick.

By the way, I'm sure that was quite the two-wheeled homicidal death rampage when he rode his bike onto the sidewalk in front of his kid's school, which I do all the goddamn time when I drop my own kid off, much to the delight of his classmates.

And how about that light-running?  You know, the one where he did the ol' "slow-to-blow?"  Well, the Post includes a video of it (which is remarkably audacious as it obviates pretty much every word of the article) and here's what happened.  First, he slowly approaches the light:

Then he comes to a complete stop and puts his foot down:

Then he waits for traffic to pass:

Then, when there's no more traffic (or pedestrians) he slowly resumes riding:

And the light turns green like two seconds later:

So basically, when the coast was clear he jumped the light by a couple seconds, which is understandable.  Not only is he BEING FOLLOWED BY A REPORTER, but I'd also argue this is sometimes safer than waiting for the green, owing to the addled motorist dickbags waiting behind you in pole position:

("Did someone say 'pole position?'  I'll position my pole in your face, mate!")

Anyway, I had to know what kind of person follows a kid to school and then publishes a picture of him on the front page of a newspaper in a city of 8 million-plus people, so I used a popular search engine, typed the reporter's name into it, and found this:

Altoona native and former boxer Kevin Fasick tells some tough tales as a New York Post staff reporter.

Yep, just a small town hack from Palookaville trying to make it in the big city. And to be fair, he does tell some tough tales:

"As far as how I deal with the tragedy I often encounter on my job, on some level you have to compartmentalize it for your own sanity," he wrote in an email. "But the sadness often sticks with you and you have to deal with that as part of the job. I did a story of a little girl, 12-year-old Nicole Suriel, who drowned on a class trip. I spent a couple of hours in her parents' apartment.

"The father was telling us about his little girl, getting on the computer and getting photos for the photographer, while the mom stayed in the bedroom and wailed in grief. That was a long day and at the end of it, it hit me pretty hard."

Which is another way of saying he's a vulture who feeds on human tragedy:

He tells them, "You're a human being first, and what's going to make you a good reporter is by being a good human being. What we want to do is honor their loved one who may have been murdered, killed in a car wreck, died in fire, what have you. We're there to tell their stories."

Presumably then he was honoring the victim of the Central Park tragedy by stalking this guy's kid.  Of course, given his concern for the victim, you may be wondering why he doesn't do the same thing to drivers.  Well, the answer is simple: convenience.  See, the "killer cyclist" and the reporter both live in the same neighborhood, so all he has to do is roll out of bed and start stalkin'.  As for the other stories he relentlessly pursues in the service of justice, here's just a smattering:

Yeah, he's the Woodward and Bernstein of overpriced hot dogs.

And what of the New York Times?  They're better than the Post, right?  Well, sure, but that doesn't mean their editorial department is immune to a little implicit victim-blaming.  Consider this horrible story:

And before anything else, let's look at the headline:

Wait a minute.  The car was fleeing the court police?  Is the driver not responsible?  Was it one of those new Google self-fleeing cars?

Okay, so they try to pull the driver over (sorry, they try to pull the car over, I sometimes forget that in America a driver is just a hapless passenger with no culpability who happens to be sitting in front of a steering wheel at a given moment), the Apple iFlee protocol kicks in, and the Mercedes (again, not the driver, the Mercedes) hits the Cannondale (this is important why?), on top of which happens to be sitting a neuroscientist:

The hectic getaway killed Sergei Musatov, 42, an assistant professor of neuroscience in neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, a spokesman for the school said. He was riding west on East 129th Street near the Third Avenue Bridge when the Mercedes hit his Cannondale bicycle from behind, the police said. The impact sent Dr. Musatov hurtling into the windshield of the Mercedes and then onto the asphalt.

At which point the pressing question now somehow becomes WAS THE CYLIST WEARING A HELMENT???

A police spokesman said he did not know whether Dr. Musatov, who earned his doctoral degree from Saint Petersburg State University in Russia in 1998, had been wearing a helmet.

Oh for fuck's sake.

But don't worry, because there's going to be an "accident investigation:"

David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state court system, said on Thursday that officials were waiting for the police department’s accident investigation before determining what role the court officers may have played in the crash. He said the officers were driving from the Bronx courts to the Harlem Community Justice Center on a routine patrol when the Mercedes ran the red light. He said the officers had responded so quickly because the Mercedes nearly struck their car.

"Accident investigation?"  How the hell does anybody--the court spokesman, the police, the reporter--possibly use the word "accident" in connection with a circumstance in which a driver was fleeing from a traffic stop, killed somebody in the process, and then fled the scene?

That's one big-ass "oopsie."

Furthermore, what is an "accident investigation?"  The first word completely undermines the second.  Aren't you supposed to investigate something before declaring it an accident?  When you do that in business it's called "creative accounting," i.e. "embezzling."  Yet the Times can somehow print the phrase "accident investigation" with a straight face.

Just imagine other tragic news stories employed similar syntax as stories about motor vehicle violence.  This:

Would become this:

Bronx Boy, 14, Killed by Bullet Fleeing Gun

And of course this:

Would become this:

Suddenly, at about 8:30 a.m., a Smith and Wesson approached Christopher, at which point a bullet emerged from it and entered his face.  His brother and his friend took shelter under the protective life-giving cars that line the city's streets.  Law enforcement officials did not know whether Christopher was wearing a bulletproof vest.  Or a helmet.

And naturally this:

Would become this:

Accident investigators are like, "That sucks, accidents happen."

Now I'm certainly not saying the Times are being malicious here.  It's just a symptom of how deeply ingrained driver absolution is in our culture.  We all do it to some degree, because at this point our language has evolved to distance drivers from their actions.  As the article above reveals, the way we speak is full of loopholes.  (The driver didn't do it, the car did.)  It's like those devices that help Jews cheat the Sabbath--if the gizmo is Rube Goldberg-esque enough then the user can claim they're not violating the law, but the fact of the matter is that turning on a light is still turning on a light.  Linguistically, we treat cars and drivers like Jews and lightswitches, placing an ultimately meaningless gap of passivity between them that serves to absolve them.

Now have a great weekend!


--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Putting the "In" In "Injustice"

The sporting world is all abuzz with this whole FIFA kerfuffle, which much to my chagrin has not yet yielded a headline along the lines of "FIFA FAUX FUM: FEDS FELL FOOTBALL FELONS."  It has, however, made for some interesting reading.  Consider this for example:

For the most obvious example of this, look to Qatar. The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to the rich Gulf state with a terrible human rights record was a controversial one right out of the gate. There have been extensive allegations of bribery: why else, some figured, award the Cup to a tiny country with sweltering summer heat and no soccer culture to speak of?

Why indeed?  Besides the piles of dead migrant workers, there's no civil liberty in Qatar:

Qatari law does not permit the establishment of political bodies, forums for debate, professional syndicates or trade unions.  There are no civil society organizations for human or citizens’ rights, nor any association or institution with a focus on public affairs.  There is no transparency regarding major public policy decisions.  Qatar's income, expenditure, and investment of public wealth are unknown.

Though there is flogging for "illicit sexual relations:"

Flogging is used in Qatar as a punishment for alcohol consumption or illicit sexual relations.

Which somehow they manage to reconcile with building a stadium that looks like a giant vagina:

However, Qatar is a great place if you like getting stoned:

("Which way to Qatar, man?")

No, silly, not that kind of stoned.

THIS kind of stoned:

Stoning is a legal punishment in Qatar.  Apostasy is a crime punishable by the death penalty in Qatar.  Blasphemy is punishable by up to seven years in prison and proselytizing can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.  Homosexuality is a crime punishable by the death penalty for Muslims.

Wow.  I'm all for appreciating the folkways of different cultures, but Qatar fucking sucks.

Anyway, I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that if the scumbags at FIFA are willing to jump into bed with this country then they'll find cycling already in there and fellating the Emir, for Qatar will be hosting the 2016 UCI Road World Championships:

Not only is it hot as balls in Qatar, but there aren't even any climbs, which are like kind of a little bit important in bike racing:

None of the routes will contain climbs with the race organisers stating that they did not consider creating artificial climbs for the events.

To their credit, it's a good thing they're not building any artificial climbs, because that's probably like five dead migrant workers per meter of elevation.

So why is Qatar so keen on hosting sporting events?  Well, apparently they want to host the Olympics one day, because they're filthy fucking rich:

And why the effort? Most communities pay to host the worlds to bring in tourism dollars. Qatar, however, is rich — the richest country in the world in 2010 according Forbes magazine. Its move is not for tourism. It is hosting the worlds and other events, like soccer’s World Cup in 2022, to eventually bring in the Olympics.

“Everybody knows — it’s not a secret — that we have ambitions for the Olympics,” Sheikh Khalid said. “We must test every discipline to show it can performed with success in Qatar.”

Yes, every discipline can be performed with success in Qatar, provided its not a sex act that goes against Sharia law.

Of course, cycling and ethical bankruptcy have always gone together, but if you're looking for someone to credit with marrying cycling and out-and-out human oppression then look no further than Eddy Merckx:

Not only did Merckx create the Tour of Qatar, but he's also race director of the Tour of Oman.  You know Oman--it's that place where you're not taking your next vacation:

The practice of torture is widespread in Oman state penal institutions and has become the state's typical reaction to independent political expression.  Torture methods in use in Oman include mock execution, beating, hooding, solitary confinement, subjection to extremes of temperature and to constant noise, abuse and humiliation.  Since 2011, the Omani government has arrested and tortured many Omanis, and there have been numerous reports of torture and other inhumane forms of punishment perpetrated by Omani security forces on protesters and detainees.  Several prisoners detained in 2012 complained of sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, and solitary confinement.

Wow, that's bad.  In fact, they sound almost as bad as America!

At least they abolished slavery--in 1970:

Oman was the one of the last nations on earth to abolish slavery in 1970.

Yeah, that's 1970 A-friggin'-D.

If slavery was legal in your country until the release of "Led Zeppelin III" then that's seriously fucked up.

Anyway, you may remember this past year when riders' tires exploded during the Tour of Oman owing to the extreme heat, and Merckx basically dismissed their concerns as nothing more than a bunch of whining:

Merckx retorted that had the peloton been racing, the heat would not have been a concern.

“It was only 38 [100°F], that’s not so hot,” he said. “The problem was that the riders came down in a bunch and everyone was braking. If they would’ve been racing, coming down one by one, the problem wouldn’t have occurred.”

He added that the race’s future was at stake.

Right, that would be terrible if Merckx's filthy revenue stream dried up because the riders have a self-preservation instinct.  Sadly Freds are so busy whacking off to what this guy did 40 years ago that nobody notices what an asshole he is:

(Eddy Merckx on his way to victory in the 1970 Tour de France--the year Oman abolished slavery.)

Meanwhile, here in America's Most Bike-Friendly City according to Bicycling magazine, the transit workers' union is bravely fighting for their right to run you the fuck over with their buses, and to this end they've filed a class action suit against Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York:

New York City’s Right of Way Law (known as Section 19-190 of the NYC Administrative Code or Local Law 29) helps protect pedestrians on dangerous city streets. The law makes it a possible misdemeanor crime when a driver fails to yield and kills or injures a person walking in the crosswalk with the right of way. The law can work two ways: If a driver fails to yield but doesn’t cause an injury, the driver may be fined up to $100; if the driver causes physical injury or death, the driver may be fined up to $250 and in theory be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, though this is highly unlikely for the first offense.

Now, if you're not from New York, you're probably stunned that it took until 2014 for the city to pass a law like this.  Really, it's the pedestrian equivalent of Oman not banning slavery until 1970.  So you'd think this would be a good thing, only now the transit workers' union doesn't feel like it should apply to them:

In fact, here's what they say in their complaint:

...the statute, which is applied only to motor vehicle operators, is so vague that it “does not give a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.” 

Wow.  So the transit workers' union is saying that their members aren't smart enough to understand that you're not supposed to run over people in the crosswalk when they've got the "Walk" signal?

If I were a bus driver I'd be pretty pissed off.

Anyway, in addition to the lawsuit the union has also been fighting a propaganda war via social media (I wrote about it here), in which they've been portraying bus drivers as lovable hardworking Ralph Kramdens who just can't help running over people now and then:

("Bang!  Zoom!  Straight to the Moon!," I says to the pedestrian.)

And pedestrian and cycling advocates as rich Sorbonne-educated beret-wearing elitists whose sole purpose in life is to destroy the working class via a twin-pronged assault of safe streets legislation and extreme gentrification:

The only problem with all this is that the union's whole PR campaign is about 30 years out of date, and today most Americans would kill for the level of compensation and benefits that union members enjoy.  Furthermore, the transit workers and the advocates are all getting priced out by people who are way too rich to give a shit about any of this, because people who are driven around in Suburbans and Escalades don't care about bus drivers or pedestrians.

Seriously, it's getting to the point that the only way you can afford to live in New York City is to be an investment banker or a union higher-up or a lawyer who represents unions or something.

Indeed, when you strip the whole anti-Vision Zero Law of its dated classist rhetoric, it looks a lot like a special interest with lots of political power unduly using their clout to fuck you.

Anway, since the heart of the union's argument seems to be that they don't want to see their members taken away in handcuffs, I've got a settlement offer for them: instead of being taken to the police station in cuffs when you run somebody over, you can have the choice of traveling by Access-A-Ride instead.

I bet they'll choose the cuffs.

I notice the pedestrian's airbag helme(n)t didn't deploy either.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Minute® Ready to Serve Brown Wednesday has a nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture characteristic of brown rice.

Today is the very last Wednesday of Bike Month:

With that in mind, yesterday evening I rode a Citi Bike through the streets of New York, and I'm sorry to report it's a bit of a shitshow out there.  Here are three (3) things I observed yesterday evening, all of which I failed to photograph because I was too lazy to fish my cellular telephone with integrated camera out of my pocket:

1) A Cat 6 unicyclist on the Manhattan Bridge;

2) Legions of riders streaming off the aforementioned bridge, right through the red light, and directly in the path of oncoming motor vehicle traffic;

3) Someone riding a Brompton and wearing a Giro Air Attack helme(n)t.

Now, Item #1 speaks for itself, but it's worth addressing Items #2 and #3 in more detail.

With regard to Item #2, there is rolling through a red light when there is no oncoming traffic in sight, and then there's rushing lemming-like into the street when cars are coming off of the bridge with the light in their favor.  This was the latter, and I stood there agog as rider after rider simply ignored the light and the cars and rode across.  I should also point out that each of these riders was wearing a bicycle helme(n)t (as per the CDC's instructions), and from this I conclude that decades of helment propaganda has convinced many American cyclists that their responsibilities begin and end with strapping on a polystyrene yarmulke.  (Loosely and off-kilter in most cases.)

As for Item #3, even though the cyclist was behaving perfectly responsibly the sight caused me even more consternation than the Cat 6 lemmings, because here is a Giro Air Attack:

And here is a Brompton:

And that the twain should ever meet is an offense just short of wearing a skinsuit while riding a Dutch bike.

In fact, I'd argue that nobody should wear a Giro Air Attack under any circumstances, but I acknowledge that there is no talking sense to the sorts of Freds and Fredericas who buy these dork-tastic dome adornments, so the very least we can do is make sure such helments remain confined to that population.

I should also point out that the Air Attack face shield was in fact in situ, which made the rider look like an actual Bromptonaut--or, if you prefer, like this person if he were riding a tiny folding bicycle:

I hope I shall never have to see such a thing again as long as I live.

Overall, I'd say we've come a long was as a bikey city in that we now have something resembling a bicycle rush hour, but developmentally speaking we're still toddlers at best.

Of course, the above doesn't apply to me, because I represent the very apotheosis of cycling.  (Click here if you don't believe me.)  I'm also the "resident NYC bike expert," which composers of press releases are quick to acknowledge:

As the resident NYC bike expert, I think you'd be really interested in a new Brooklyn-designed bike company launching next week on 5/27 at 11am EST.

Brilliant Bicyle Co was started by two former venture capitalists frustrated by how difficult it is for the Average Joe to buy a bicycle. Their company is launching beautiful, hand-made, high quality bikes that are hand-welded in ethical factories and priced at less than half of retail prices, starting at $299.

Reasons you'll dig Brilliant:

It's the best bike to suggest to your casual riding friends
The engineering and design of a competitive bike but designed for the casual rider
Quality and speed meant for casual rider
Not overselling a gentle or relaxed rider with a bike they don’t need
Great gift for a beginner to grow with a bike
Price point is accessible
Design is beautiful
Comfortable riding to interest and entice a first time rider

Would love to send through the press release and password so you can check out the site in full, all embargoed until 11am ET on 5/27. 

Let me know if you're interested in checking that out!

The phrase "Brooklyn-designed" is a good indication that a business venture is mostly just full of itself, as is the involvement of "former venture capitalists," because if they were competent then it's safe to assume they'd still be venture capitalists.  There are billions of dollars to be made in the tech industry, yet what little money there still is in cycling has all been hoarded by Mike Sinyard, so there's no sound reason to go from one to the other.  Nevertheless, I suspect that having failed as venture capitalists they're under the mistaken impression that making money off the quirky, folksy, naive world of bikes will be like taking an organic lollipop from a baby.

But let's give our erstwhile venture capitalists the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe they've already made their billions and now they're going to give back to the world.  Why?  Because they're "frustrated by how difficult it is for the Average Joe to buy a bicycle."  (As for the Average Jane, presumably that's her problem.)  Certainly we can all relate to this frustration, because as it stands it is indeed extremely difficult to enter a bicycle shop or visit a website, proffer some form of payment, and take delivery of a bike.

Furthermore, you can rest assured that these bikes are "hand-welded in ethical factories," which I take to mean that none of the children who build them have yet been executed for shoddy workmanship.

Anyway, as you probably guessed by now, their revolutionary idea is to sell cheap, fashionable singlespeeds via the Internet:


*[The State Bicycle Co. banner in the right-hand margin of this blog is a figment of your imagination.]

Okay, fine, plenty of people have done this before, but with the exception of Old Man Budnitz few have been so pretentious about it.  For example, they're cutting out the "middlemen:"

You know, those pesky middlemen who put your bike together for you and make sure it fits you and make helpful suggestions and all that meddlesome nonsense.

I mean, why engage a middleman when you can just "Grab a Friend?"

2. Grab a Friend

Brilliant Bicycles are designed to be assembled by one person, but it's a lot more fun if you grab a friend and put on some tunes; we even made a bike building playlist for you here!

So go ahead, call up your friend with the Vice Grips who put together a NORNĂ„S wine rack from Ikea one time, crank up that insipid playlist, and do your worst.

Speaking of doing your worst, meet the "skoot:"

Which is designed and built in Cleveland, as if you hadn't guessed.

All Kickstarter creators embark on a futile voyage of discovery, and this one is no exception:

"A skateboard is great for doing tricks and riding on ramps.  But it isn't ideal for going high speeds or long distances."

Of course, what is good for going high speeds and long distances is a bicycle, but instead he came up with this:

Which he designed using two bicycle wheels, some chalk, and his imagination:

"There were no sketches, no plans, and no blueprints."

The above is also true of 90% of the buildings comprising the Cleveland skyline.

By the way, if you're anything like me you felt compelled to point out that the whole time he was designing this thing he could have just used the bike that's sitting right there:

But instead he chopped it up to make a giant scooter:

That's a goddamn shame.

Still, you'll look great making the scene in what, by Cleveland standards, is the cool gentrified neighborhood in town:

"Everyone that has seen it has stopped me to ask questions about what it is and where it came from."

Then, when he answered those questions, they asked if he would please send it back there.

This isn't to say the "skoot" doesn't have its advantages.  For example, check out how aero you can get:

If only he had a Giro Air Attack helment he'd hit Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" speed in no time.

It also looks great next to Cleveland:

Then again, everything looks great next to Cleveland.

Regardless, I wish the creator nothing but success, and I hope the "skoot" fares better than the Mogo, which the cycling world met back in 2008:

And which exists now only as a "404 not found" message:

It seems the world was not yet ready for the return of the dandy horse.

Perhaps it is now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let's get down to business.

Welcome back.

When last we met I was preparing myself mentally and physically for the 26th Inaugural BSNYC Gran Fondo, sponsored by [lucrative promotional opportunities available, just imagine your company name here], which took place way back on the 17th.  Well, I'm pleased to announce that the ride was a smashing success, by which I mean I had an enjoyable bike ride and drank beer afterwards.  As for the other participants, I don't know if they enjoyed it, but nobody said "That sucked!" and then kicked me in the "pants yabbies" so as far as I'm concerned that's as good as a rave review.

Alas, if you were expecting a detailed ride report prepare to be disappointed--though if you've been reading this blog for any length of time you should be accustomed to disappointment.  See, the point of the ride was not to generate Internet content for my crappy bike blog; rather, it was to enjoy the riding of bicycles in the company of other people who enjoy the riding of bicycles, and therefore I did not spend my precious cycling time pointing my smartphone at stuff.  Therefore, you'll just have to make do with this enigmatically blurry photo taken by commenter "VSK:"

I should also point out that the guy in the lime green helme(n)t was riding some old upright three-speed (?) something that weighed a gazillion pounds and he completed THE WHOLE RIDE.  That's 50-ish miles of hilly mixed terrain.

So think about that next time you're shopping for a crabon douchecycle.

In other words, some New York Times columnist who refers to himself in the third person wrote some stupid piece about how he wants taxi drivers to be more "hyperaggressive:"

This week, we depart from the usual letter-and-reply format for a column about taxis. The Haggler writes as a fan. He likes the hyperaggressive way yellow taxis deal with traffic. It’s as if they take it personally. Not long ago, a taxi driver picked up the Haggler at La Guardia and put on a show. Every time he encountered congestion, he rethought his route and gunned it, working like a jazz musician on amphetamines, improvising in a groove.

“But Haggler, that sounds dangerous!” you say. “If you’ve got a problem with cellphones, how can you countenance Vin Diesel driving?”

Fair point. You see, the Haggler wants drivers off phones precisely so they can drive like Vin Diesel. (Or at least the Vin Diesel we see in those “Fast and Furious” movies.) This is impossible, or insane, when talking on the phone.

Um, firstly, does "the Haggler" realize that Vin Diesel's co-star in those movies died in a fiery wreck?

("Awesome!"--The Haggler)

Secondly, on THE VERY DAY the Times published this forced bit of irreverence, John F. Nash Jr. (otherwise known as the "A Beautiful Mind" guy) died when the driver of his taxi lost control on the way to the airport:

Dr. Nash and his wife, Alicia, 82, were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike in Monroe Township around 4:30 p.m. when the driver lost control while veering from the left lane to the right and hit a guardrail and another car, Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police said.

The Bike Snob really hopes the Haggler feels like a fucking idiot, though the Bike Snob suspects the Haggler has his head too far up the Haggler's Ass to realize how stupid he sounds.  Nevertheless, he Bike Snob still thinks "The Haggler" should change his pen name to "The Wanker," and that if the Haggler wants to ratchet up the thrill factor on his next ride to LaGuardia he should feel free to divest himself of his seatbelt.


Speaking of danger, around the time I took leave of this blog the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ever-so-casually equated not wearing bicycle helme(n)ts with smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt:
Hey assholes: the "D" stands for "Disease," not discouragement.  Riding a bicycle is HEALTHY, regardless of whether or not you wear a foam hat.  This is why you're supposed to stop spouting bullshit helme(n)t efficacy statistics:

Two federal government agencies will withdraw their longstanding claims that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of a head injury by 85%. The decision comes in response to a petition the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) filed under the federal Data Quality Act.

Yes, leave it to an American government agency (or an Australian one) to come up with the idea that not wearing a foam hat while riding a bicycle is as unhealthy as smoking.  Smoking!  You know, the highly addictive thing where you suck carcinogens into your lungs all day long.

This is why we're one of the most obese countries on the planet, and why within 10 years parents will be forcing their children to wear helments while watching TV.

Just wait until we're all wearing airbag helments--never mind that they sometimes go off at inconvenient moments:
A video posted by abc3d (@abc3d_) on
There are still seven months left in the year, but I'm confident that even as we're ringing in the New Year this will still be the greatest thing I've seen in 2015.

Nevertheless, the simple fact is you can always make a buck by frightening people.  Consider this Kickstarter pitch I recently received, in which they simply fabricate the number of annual bike fatalities in the United States:

Hi There!

My name is Lizzy Schofding and I am reaching out to you on behalf of an amazing company called Thousand.  Thousand launched it's first product on Kickstarter on Tuesday, reached its goal in under 9 hours and has since more than doubled it.

Thousand is a design driven lifestyle brand with one mission:  to make a bike helmet that you'd actually want to wear.  With over 1,000 bike fatalities in the U.S. every year, the market is in desperate need of a new kind of helmet.  Thousand's take on the helmet features the following innovations, which make it completely unique:
Innovative Technology- Our secret PopLock (patent pending) is the most convenient and secure way to lock up your helmet to your bike
Commitment to Sustainability-  Helmets are an old industry with limited people and planet friendly options-and we want to change that. We're the only helmet brand focused on sustainable sourcing and materials.
Thoughtful Design- Focused on intuitive, clean design, Thousand is protective, above all and made for the urban explorer.
Take a look at Thousand's Kickstarter page here.  I would love to connect you with the brand's founder for a more in-depth conversation if you are up for it!

As it happens, the number that number is closer to 700, which I happen to know because I read it in Time magazine recently.  So I pointed this out to her and this was her reply:

Apologies - you are completely right, that should have read roughly 1,000 bike fatalities in the U.S. every year. My mistake.

Roughly!?!  So a pile of 300 dead bodies is a fucking rounding error?

It was around this time that she stopped replying to my emails.

Anyway, let's look at the project, which has raised ROUGHLY $120,000 so far:

The narrator begins by explaining her objection to helments:

"I've always hated the sci-fi and bulky design, and they're a pain to lug around."

Really, is she crazy?  I have a road bike helme(n)t.  It is not especially bulky, it's fairly comfortable, and it weighs about as much as a handful of pubes.

Therefore, I can only conclude from the quote above that she was riding around in one of these:

I admit, that is rather bulky and sci-fi.

Anyway, after riding around looking like one of George Lucas's brainfarts, she gave up:

"So even though I knew they could save my life, I never wore one."

See, to me this should be the end of the story.  If you hate wearing a helment so much then don't wear one and shut up about it.  Sadly, this isn't how things work anymore.  Instead, we have Kickstarter, where people describe themselves like this:

"A design-driven lifestyle brand with one mission: to reinvent the bicycle helmet."

I don't know about you, but when I hear "design-driven" the first thing I think of is safety.

Anyway, to this end, she hunts far and wide for someone to implement her vision:

(What, no driving helment?!?  ROUGHLY 30,000 Americans die in cars every year!)

And she eventually finds some wanker in Idaho who looks like he's rubbing a hamburger for luck:

"The styling is being stripped out of it and that in itself becomes a style."

Oh save it.

"And I'm enjoying the challenge of dialing back the styling and getting more into just what the shape is actually doing in front of you."

Come on.  I'll tell you what it's doing: It's being a fucking helment--and not a particularly original-looking one either.  Though you wouldn't know that by the way she's looking at it:

("I am in your thrall, oh mighty helment!")

Oh, but that's not all.  It also has a hole in it so you can lock it onto your bike:

Maybe it's just because I'm a New Yorker, but I don't leave anything I'm going to wear on my body outside unattended for any length of time--though if you're not afraid of a head full of dog piss or semen then go right ahead.  Still, why the hole?  Is it that hard to just lock it up through the straps?

And speaking of straps, it's worth noting that she drove all over America and designed a helment completely from scratch only to render it completely ineffective by wearing it wrong:

I mean come on, it's a helment, not a sunbonnet:

There's no way that's staying on her head.

But, you know, it looks "good" so that's all that matters.

Safety first!