Cyclists: Eternal Victims, Perpetual Menaces

Do you have one of those drawers in your house that's full of random extension cords, obsolete cellphone chargers, and lengths of speaker wire and coaxial cable?  If so, have you ever tried to extract one of those cables, only to find that the whole mass had become a single inextricable electronic dreadlock?  Well, I have, which is why I can relate to the difficulty this would-be cockpit thief is having:

New York City's Most Untalented Bike Thief from on Vimeo.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it's less like the junk drawer and more like trying to eat a sinewy steak with a dull knife.  In any case, I know the above moron is not the same person who stole my cockpit awhile back, since my thief was obviously a professional:

All it took to emasculate my Scattante was two cuts and a flick of the wrist to loosen the stem bolts.  Of course, they say if you cut off a cockpit it just grows back bigger, and that's exactly what happened with mine:

As for whether this approach also works as a method of "natural male enhancement," I'm not sure, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Speaking of cockpits, the above image of my wide handlebars comes from my Academy Award-winning book trailer (it won in the "best self-whoring short film" category), and did you know a number of scenes in that trailer were shot from the back of my Surly Big Dummy?

(We took the kiddie seat off first since MC Spand-X couldn't fit in it.)

I'm sure you didn't know this, and I'm even more sure that you couldn't care less.  However, the most fulfilling aspect of owning a Big Dummy or indeed any cargo bike is annoying other people with constant updates on how we're using them:

"I filmed a movie off my Big Dummy."

"I carried 150lbs of organic carrots on my Kona Ute."

"I put my three kids with last names for first names in a bakfiets and took them to Montessori school for future hipster training."

And so forth.

You can tell us you don't care, and you can tell us to shut up, and you can even throw up all over us, but we'll never stop because smugness feeds on disgust like that slime fed on anger in "Ghostbusters II."  This is also the driving force behind the entire city of Portland, OR, and the more you hate them the more powerful and hairy they become.

Speaking of hate, numerous and many peoples have electronically mailed me a link to the following "Official Bicycle Safety Manual" from the Nineteen-Hundred and Forties time period of time:

If you're familiar with the Cook's Chicken scene from the movie "Ghost World" you know that prejudice never really disappears; rather, it just becomes more adept at concealing itself.  Similarly, in America we still believe that cyclists are suicidal fools who don't have the sense to get out of the way of the cars, only back in the 1940s we were a lot more straightforward about it:

I particularly like the "White Man's Burden" tone of these cartoons--as though the gracious motorists are doing all they can not to kill the poor cyclists but they just insist on dying anyway.

Of course, cyclists aren't just stupid and defenseless, and paradoxically they're also maniacal baby killers:

(That baby really should have been wearing a helment.)

This idea too has survived into our present day:

For quite some time I've been wondering why Americans consider bicycles a menace to children when the fact is they only possess a tiny fraction of the sheer baby-killing power of the automobile.  Finally though I realized what it was.  See, there's one thing Americans despise more than anything else--including dead babies--and that's weakness.  Bicycles are weak, and cars are strong.  Therefore, we can live with our children getting killed by strong stuff like cars and guns (which happens all the time), but the very thought of one dying because of some "woosie" on a bike (which happens basically never) is an affront to our sensibilities.  It's perfectly fine to die in America, just as long as you do it like a man.

Anyway, as great as all these cartoons are, this one may be my favorite:

Ha, ha--the silly cyclist totally got crushed by a metaphor for progress.

Speaking of menaces to children, the electric bicycle is rapidly overtaking the standard human-powered replacement horse as the number one threat to children and pedestrians in New York City--at least as far as some local politicians are concerned:

"They are a nightmare for pedestrians,” said Lappin, joined by state Senator Liz Krueger on the steps of City Hall. ”My office receives constant complaints about them riding on the sidewalks, traveling opposite traffic, running red lights, just being reckless and dangerous.” Said Krueger: “Who will think of the mothers pushing carriages who are at risk for their lives?”

I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, it's true that electric delivery bicycles are probably the most irritating two-wheeled conveyance in New York City.  (It used to be brakeless fixie NĂ¼-Freds, but they're like elderly people with walkers in comparison.)  On the other hand, cracking down on electric bikes when drivers keep parking their cars on top of people's bodies with impunity is like yelling at the cat for clawing at the sofa leg while the dog is setting fire to the house.  Anyway, we know what the single-most dangerous thing to children is in this city, and it ain't bikes (electric or otherwise):

Data show that deaths among children were more likely to occur from unintentional injuries than from intentional injuries (69% vs. 24%, respectively). Unintentional motor vehicle traffic accidents contributed the most to child injury deaths in NYC overall (25%), with more than three quarters of deaths occurring among pedestrians. 

Nevertheless, electric bicycles are nothing short of a Lobsend for the city, since this current preoccupation should buy them at least a few more years before they finally have to deal with the whole pesky homicidal motorist thing.

Meanwhile, in Prospect Park, a "road sharing task force" is proposing removing one lane of car traffic to make more room for cyclists and pedestrians:

If you're from some other country you may be wondering why cars should be "sharing" a park with people at all, but don't worry--I'm sure one day we'll reach our goal of having a 100% people-free Prospect Park.

In any case, if all this talk of dead babies is getting you down, why not watch a documentary about people riding their bikes at night, as forwarded by a reader?

If the 1960s and '70s saw the advent of the American New Wave of cinema, then the 2010s will certainly be remembered as the age of the "Reiterative Documentary," a style of filmmaking which basically involves taking a simple activity and then having people describe it over and over again in a similar fashion.  Actually, we used to have winter group rides at night in New York City too--that is until all the club Freds decided that riding inside was a more effective method of "training."  (The modern New York City road cyclist ideally only rides a bicycle outside only for racing purposes.)  Perhaps I'll make a documentary about it, after I finish my current project on the world's most expensive Haro:

Yeah, right.  That bike totally jumped the shark by 1987, this one is way nicer.

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