Cycling American Style: Vehicular Cycling in the Land of Make-Believe

If you ride a bike between Brooklyn and Manhattan, you've no doubt noticed by now that the north side of the bridge is open to bicycles again.  If you don't ride a bike between Brooklyn and Manhattan, all you need to know is that the bikes were supposed to go on one side and the pedestrians were supposed to go on the other side, and then the pedestrians were supposed to go on the bike side and the bikes were supposed to go on the pedestrian side, but most people were too dumb to figure it out and so they had to hire people to stand there and tell everybody where to go, but it didn't work because the people hired to stand there mostly just texted, but now it's gone back to the way it was originally, though it doesn't really matter since nobody really pays much attention anyway.  It's confusing enough to make even David Byrne say, "Fuck it, I'm leasing a Hyundai."

(David Byrne gives away his bike at the launch party for his new book, "Fuck It, I'm Leasing a Hyundai.")

In any case, today was my first day on the north side of the Manhattan Bridge since they reversed the reversal.  I'd been wondering why it had been closed to bikes for so many months, and it turns out the reason for the detour was so that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene could install these nutrition-related PSAs:

You don't have to tell Mario Cipollini twice, since as everybody knows by now he's been on an all p-word diet since October of 2009:

I guess that makes him a v-gan.

Indeed, it was a morning brimming with promise.  The weather was warm and sunny.  The north side of the bridge was open to cyclists again.  And streetwear enthusiasts were lined up on the sidewalk waiting for something to "drop:"

I don't know what exciting new product they were waiting for, but I'm guessing it wasn't a hat with pointy earflaps, since this guy already had one:

I must be even more out of it than I thought, because I had no idea that Tibetan headgear was the new flat brim cap:

Actually, maybe they were waiting for the new style of Tibetan hat to "drop," and in a few hours they could all be walking around in these:

The only problem I see is that they're not really compatible with giant headphones.

Speaking of trends, every winter I make the mistake of thinking that the whole fixiebike thing is finally over.  Then, as soon as the temperature heads above about 55 degrees or so (that's 55 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 12 degrees Communist) they suddenly reappear in droves and I realize they've merely been lying dormant and waiting to bloom anew, like tulip bulbs or cold sores.  There disappearance was especially perplexing this winter, since here in New York we didn't really even have a winter.  I had always just assumed that the fixiebike riders had sort of an inner thermostat that caused them to shut down at a certain temperature, but maybe it's more of a biological clock that sends them into hibernation like bears.  Still, this doesn't account for the early reappearance this year.  Either way, some naturalist should put tracking devices on a few of them so we can find out what they do all winter.  Do they migrate to warmer climes in other trendy cities, or do they simply like dormant in basements in Bushwick and Bed-Stuy?

If the fixiebike riders do go someplace warm for the winter, I wonder if it's San Diego.  As it happens, a reader recently forwarded me the following article, in which one cycling "advocate" discusses the merits of "vehicular cycling:"

Issakov subscribes to a philosophy called vehicular cycling, which maintains that bicyclists are safest when they act like drivers. That often means mixing with cars in traffic lanes on high-speed roads like La Jolla Village Drive.

“It’s totally non-intuitive, but once you do it a few times its like, ‘Wow, why don’t I do this all the time?’” he said of the vehicular approach. “Thinking like a driver completely changes your experience out on the road.”

Issakov doesn’t think La Jolla Village Drive needs a bike lane—that with the right training, anyone can ride here comfortably like he does. In fact, some in the vehicular cycling movement, which has followers all over the world, are vehemently against bike lanes.

What a complete duncebag.  It's bad enough Americans spend so much time "training" so they can suck at racing.  Now we should "train" so we can pretend to be cars on the way to work, too.  Sure, forget the bike lanes--let's all spend two hours every morning riding a trainer in the basement like that Fred from the Wall Street Journal so that one day maybe we can be fast enough to actually ride our bikes on the street for transportation.  Actually, I think we should also extend the "vehicular cycling" concept to pedestrians.  I mean, why do we even need sidewalks?  Sure, it's totally non-intuitive, but once you "take the lane" and run alongside a Honda Civic at 30mph a few times it's like, "Wow, why don't I do this all the time?"  

There's something uniquely American about the "maintain the illusion of equality at any cost, including death" approach, and I suppose part of it has to do with our unwillingness to admit that anyone can hurt us more than we can hurt them --as though  if we ride our bikes in bike lanes then it somehow means the cars have "won."  In fact, I was reading reviews of my book that hasn't even come out yet, and one of the reviews contained the following passage:

Central to the book is the battle between motorists and cyclists. We all know motorists generally don't like to share the roads with cyclists. And the author would have you believe that cyclists don't want to share the roads with motorists. I'm an avid cyclist and I love to share the road with a truck traveling the highway at 55 or 60 miles an hour while I draft off of it. And I have NEVER had a problem sharing the roads with motorists, or felt I was in harms way because I might get run over.

Right.  Even Fabian Cancellara with a Gruber Assist and a tailwind couldn't draft a truck at 60mph.  Still, it's a compelling image, and I'm sure that one day in the not-too-distant future Dutch bikes will share America's highways with SUVs and tractor trailers, all traveling at 60mph in perfect harmony.  Anyway, the only way I'd believe that guy is riding around behind trucks at 60mph would be if he's the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork, spotted recently in yet another incarnation by a Tweeterer:

(This company must sell Flux Capacitors.)

There's vehicular cycling, then there's quantum cycling, and we all know which one TTTSWRFFTPT practices.

By the way, yesterday I mentioned the $8,800 water bottle cage, and a reader was kind enough to point out that you can actually pair it with a $99,915.25 bottle:

Just don't drop it while you're drafting that 18-wheeler.

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