Elementary: Outta My Way, Pops!

This past weekend, in Brooklyn, I was almost run over by an SUV while standing on the sidewalk.

Granted, it was an electric toy SUV much like the one below, but it was still somewhat jarring:

What I found most remarkable about the incident was the look that the driver shot at me as I stepped aside. It's a look that is certainly familiar to all American cyclists, and it basically says, "Get out of my way, idiot." When you think about it, it's pretty amazing that by the time an American child is five years old his or her sense of driver entitlement is already fully formed. Between Congress's love of the automobile and all the hormones we're pumping into our meat and dairy products, I predict that the next generation of children will hit puberty at two years old and will drive tiny internal combustion vehicles on purpose-built kiddie highways while generally terrorizing their elders like super-entitled, mega-impatient, bearded-and-breasted homunculi.

Meanwhile, over in the Netherlands of Holland, a reader informs me that the children are now pedaling their own bus to school:

In a way, this is even more disturbing than the kiddie-SUV-on-the-sidewalk scenario, but only because of the implications it has for Americans.

Let's consider our little red, white, and blue hormone-addled homunculus. Sure, for awhile life seems grand: five-lane kiddie highways, little kiddie drive-thru windows at McDonalds, "dooring" adult cyclists with impunity (assuming you don't see them in time to bunnyhop them)... But by age 10 or so the kid's Jeep has been repossessed and the endless Happy Meals have resulted in obesity, and this is precisely when those ruddy-faced Dutch children will strike. Hale and fit, nimble of mind and body, proficient in 16 languages and able to ride bicycles for miles on end, they will take over our weakened country in short order. The Dutch invasion will be codenamed "Hans Across America," and New York will revert back to New Amsterdam almost immediately. Then, decimated by Wall Street greed, constant outsourcing, and our sedentary lifestyles, we'll have no choice but to surrender to our Dutch overlords, who will transform this once-great nation into the world's largest tulip farm:

(American children forced into a life of tulip-picking.)

When your children are knee-deep in delightfully-colored angiosperms, don't say I didn't warn you.

Meanwhile, outside-themed magazine "Outside" magazine has finally blown the lid off of bike theft (and by "blown the lid off of" I mean "confirmed that it happens"):

We Americans are charmingly naive when it comes to bike theft. This is because, even though we live in a profoundly violent country, most good law-abiding people don't encounter crime on a regular basis. (Obviously I mean "traditional" crime, not the monthly pickpocketing being administered by your bank.) As a result, we really don't think about crime too much as we go about our business (unless we work for a bank, of course). At the same time, because cycling is the subject of so much scorn in America, we also feel profoundly special about ourselves when we decide to ride a bicycle for transportation and manage to convince ourselves that we're somehow "saving the Earth." Our bicycle is a unique snowflake, a special tulip, a "loogie" of delight hocked from the throat of a frolicking unicorn. Therefore, when our bicycles get stolen, a synergistic effect arises between our naïveté and our smugness. We act as though the thief has embezzled from a charity, and we lament in overblown prose the injustice of a world in which someone would dare steal something as sacred as a bicycle.

Of course, most of us can only express our indignity by penning "slightly epic" stolen bike screeds on Craigslist, but if you're a professional writing person you also have the option of working out your grief by writing an article for a magazine after your poorly-locked bicycle gets stolen in a completely predictable manner:

I was inside the Penn Club, eating a hamburger and talking to my sister. The key to my lock—a foolishly thin flexible Kryptonite cable—was in my pocket.

I suppose I didn’t really believe in the little cable. Maybe I never believed in the bike, either—a blue Novara Metro hybrid. Heavy and ugly, it was the second-cheapest model in my local shop.

Putting on my deerstalker hat, I can draw two conclusions from the above: 1) His sister was not the thief (she has an ironclad alibi in that she was eating a hamburger with the victim at the time); and 2) he probably should have used a better lock. This, then, would appear to be that. However, the victim reaches a different conclusion, which is that "the futility of locking is shocking:"

The futility of locking is shocking. We’re living in an age of surveillance and DNA swab kits; isn’t there a good all-American fix, a tool, gadget, or technology solution? Every technical panacea seems to have its own flaw. Victims of bike theft have created online registries for stolen bikes, but these are obituaries, not a way to preempt the crime. Some riders have urged manufacturers to install cheap RFID tags inside every bike they turn out, like those on clothing; with unique digital signatures, bikes would be completely traceable. But RFID tags can’t be tracked via satellite, only by handheld reader.

Sure, no lock is infallible (whether it's on your bike, your car, or your house), but I certainly wouldn't say locking your bike well is "futile." I would, however, say that David Byrne (who does not own a car but probably does own a deerstalker hat) has it more or less exactly right:

Oddly, the sanest strategy I’ve encountered was outlined by musician and devoted rider David Byrne. In his quirky memoir Bicycle Diaries, Byrne advocates for folding bikes, which can be put in a closet. For the rest of us, he recommends security bolts on the wheels (harder to remove), smaller U-locks (harder to pry open), and cheap bikes (because everything gets stolen).

This last one--cheap bikes--is perhaps the best bit of advice when it comes to commuting, though it's lost on most Americans, for whom being "practical" means getting something like a $5,600 Budnitz:

(The belt drive means your thief won't have to roll up his pant leg.)

Sure, some of us may be willing to ride instead of drive once in awhile, but that doesn't mean we don't still need a really expensive bike to remind ourselves that we're not losers.

Anyway, the author then tracks bike thieves in various American cities with varying degrees of success, and ultimately comes to the stunning conclusion that many of the thieves are drug-addicted lowlives. He also buys a stolen IRO, starts speaking in painfully dated hip hop vernacular, and is quickly transformed into a Nü-Fred:

I rode the IRO through verdant Golden Gate, enjoying the smooth ride. I’d always thought single-speeds were an illin’ pose, but the IRO was nimble and ridiculously light. Standing on the pedals, I climbed past 15-speeders in my only gear. It was like having a skinnier, younger girlfriend.

By the way, if your IRO was stolen in San Francisco, you should contact the author because evidently he's still riding it:

I’m still pimping around Portland on Bike Six, my little black IRO, with 11 pounds of chain wrapped around my waist and hex nuts on my wheels.

But while our children may be driving around in tiny plastic cars and our streets may be teeming with bike thieves and journalists on pilfered IROs, it should come as some small comfort that at least our useless craft industry is bicycle-powered and entirely self-sustaining:

I was particularly moved by the patches on display at the end of the video, but the artist is definitely a product of the American school system since his "octopus playing the drums" only has five arms:

Isn't that technically a pentapus?

automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine