Public Servitude: Making the Streets Safe for Absurdity

Obviously, as I posted earlier this morning, it's a melancholy day. However, in sad times sometimes it can be helpful to lose ourselves in the absurdity of cycling. The truth is, the entire cycling world must be doping, because chemical assistance is the only explanation for the manner in which it constantly manages to out-crazy itself. Take for instance this "Biking Rules" contest, organized by the nerds at Transportation Alternatives (yes, we cyclists are all nerds, but they're especially nerdy since they're a "dot org"):


Well, I guess I must find Birkenstocks and Dutch bikes intimidating, because they somehow wrangled me into jury duty:

When they asked me to be a juror, my first inclination was to decline, mostly because I hate the word "biking." To me, "biking" is a belittling term that evokes fanny packs and hybrids, and I prefer the somewhat more dignified "cycling." However, "Biking Rules" is a contest wherein people create cycling PSAs, and it just so happens I'm an amateur PSA enthusiast myself, as you can see here, here, and here. For this reason, the opportunity to judge others' PSAs was an enticing one. More importantly, there is a $4,000 prize, and ITTET this is a rare chance for me to not accept any bribes. Yes, please be aware that I will not be bought. So if you do submit, please be sure to email me and let me know how much you are not willing to pay me so that I can not give your submission any special consideration whatsoever. Then, if you somehow manage to win anyway, we can meet up in a secret location and I can refuse to accept a brown paper bag full of cash. So if you enjoy making PSAs as much as I do, be sure enter the contest (extra credit will be given for general flambullience, or if you're the moody filmmaker type Werner Herzog tributes with titles like "Ag-gear-re, the Wrath of Cog" are also acceptable).

Speaking of public service, I often post cycling-related "Missed Connections" from the bowels of Craigslist. While I ostensibly do this to ridicule them, I also must admit that I secretly hope that one day I can help two people come together, and that eventually they will have a child and name it after something from this blog. (For example, I think the name "Labial Palp" is quite mellifluous.) In fact, you may recall that on Monday I posted about a red light-running bike salmon who coldcocked a pedestrian and consequently tried to "hook up" with him via Craigslist. Well, I'm afraid my posting about it didn't exactly result in a love connection, but it did result in an anonymous tipster close to the assailant actually sending me a photo of the two-wheeled menace who authored the post:


Remarkably, she's riding with the traffic, and she's also just made it through the yellow light.

I realize it's not a very revealing shot, but it's all we have to go on, so I've gone ahead and created a "Wanted" poster:

Please print this out and post it in bike shops, coffee shops, faux dive bars, Urban Outfitters, stores that sell tight pants and giant "celebutard" sunglasses, and anyplace else where people who know this rider are likely to congregate. The tipster informs me that this is not the first time this rider has hit a pedestrian, and it's only a matter of time before she strikes again. The only thing worse than a hit-and-run is a hit-and-run-and-attempted-online-hookup. That's truly adding indecency to injury.

Yes, cycling in New York City is fraught with danger. It's also fraught with futuristic interpretations of the city bike, like this specimen which I spotted (where else?) in front of the Apple store in SoHo:


I had to scrutinize the bicycle for a few moments in order to find a clue as to the manufacturer. Finally, I found something that seemed to say "Moof:"

This was puzzling. I've heard of a MILF, I've heard of a Mawg, and I've even heard of a Moog, but I've never heard of a Moof. So I turned to a popular search engine, where I learned that it's actually a "Vanmoof." The top tube is extra long because it houses front and rear lights, which I'm sure has the people at Knog breaking out in stress-induced hipster cysts:

Like other pretentious bicycles, the Vanmoof is not sold in bike shops. Instead, it's sold at a place called "Areaware," which according to their website is "a New York City based company renowned for unique design products with an emphasis on forward thinking technologies and original expression. Our products are decorative but go beyond ornament. Each has an underlying meaning which we believe can deepen the relationship people have with the everyday objects in their lives." Personally, I'm wary of any retailer that requires that many words to explain itself, and which can't simply be described by the word for what it sells and "shop," as in: "bike shop;" or "coffee shop;" or "gun shop." (Well, I'm also wary of gun shops, but that's something else entirely.) I wonder what happens if you need a new tire or grip for your Vanmoof and you go back to Areaware. Can they sell you one, or do they only have things that are "decorative but go beyond ornament?" "Sorry, we don't carry inner tubes, but we do have this bookend shaped like a rollerskate."

Incidentally, I couldn't help noticing that neither of the Vanmoof's wheels were locked. Granted, I didn't take the time to examine the bike, so it's possible the axles have some kind of post-modern expressionist theft-deterrent nuts. However, assuming they didn't, the owner really should take the time to secure the wheels, or else this could happen:


Missing wheels is an all-too-common site in the city. Here's another bike with an unlocked front wheel:

I will admit though that perhaps locking the front wheel isn't necessary here. Given the tire's boa constrictor colorway, it's entirely possible the typical drug-addled bike thief will mistake it for an actual snake and keep a safe distance.

Another popular theft-deterrent is the threatening sticker:


I'm no fan of beatdowns, but even I agree that anybody desperate enough to steal a component off of this sorry thing deserves whatever happens to them:

Incidentally, note the fact that both wheels are locked securely.

Yes, in New York City it can often seem as though the nicer the bicycle is, the more poorly it is locked. While the step-thru Giant above has two locks and a threatening sticker, this Gunnar has a single u-lock attached to the top tube only:

Moreover, it is locked to the horizontal beam of a scaffolding. This is bad locking practice, as the beam can easily be removed by a thief by loosening a single bolt. The same goes for this bicycle:


There are some other problems as well:

Actually, on closer inspection, the owner did get the chain around a diagonal beam as well, so perhaps it's safe after all and a cunning ploy to kill the thief when the scaffolding comes crashing down on him. Still, regardless of what you lock up to, leaving lots of slack in your chain lock just gives thieves more to work with--though I will admit that most cyclists park their bikes much better than Park Slope residents park their cars:

Perhaps the government should scrap "Cash for Clunkers" and start "Fixies for Clunkers" instead. That way, people like this could just lock their bikes up poorly instead of blocking half the street. Just turn in your VW, take your voucher to Urban Outfitters, and get yourself a Republic.
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