Louver or Leave It: The Future of Urban Cycling

Further to yesterday's post, while New York City may be a "bike culture" backwater, at least when it comes to whimsical signage we refuse to be outdone:


Yes, the Department of Transportation's "Curbside Haiku" program has now been implemented, and I must admit I don't understand either the point of the program or indeed the content of the poems themselves.  It's all maddeningly precious and cutesy, and if we have to have signs like these I'd much rather see something more prosaic:


Sure it's a bit brusk, but maybe if the signs would say it then we wouldn't have to, and the streets would be a friendlier place.

Speaking of discourteous behavior, last Saturday I rode my bicycle to the New Amsterdam Bike Show.  Now, even though I "curate" a bicycle-themed blog, the fact is I gave up cycling a long time ago and now travel exclusively by chauffeured limousine.  However, the smugmongers at Transportation Alternatives actually dispatched a pedicab instead of a Town Car to pick me up, and there's no way I'd be seen traveling about town in such an undignified manner.  Therefore, I deigned to ride an actual bicycle for the first time in years, and like a complete idiot I chose to ride over the Brooklyn Bridge.

I immediately regretted my decision, for this storied landmark was positively swollen with tourists and other disoriented perambulators with no respect for the integrity of the bike lane.  Nevertheless, while I did make frequent use of my bell, I remained civil and reduced my speed.  After all, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic structures in the world, and it affords one a breathtaking view of one of the greatest cities in the world.  Therefore, it's unreasonable to expect visitors not to be agog as they stroll across it on a Saturday afternoon.

However, ahead of me was a rider who was less understanding, and at one point I witnessed him actually slap a tourist on the back as he passed.  Here is that rider:


And here is his "filth prophylactic" which is jauntily askew:


As far as the recipient of the slap, if you're wondering how I know he was a tourist, it's because he didn't immediately kick the cyclist off his bicycle as any sensible local would do.  Sure, it's infuriating when people walk in the bike lane, but the NĂ¼-Fred pictured above ceded the high ground as soon as he made physical contact.  However, problems like these may soon be a thing of the past--if Bill Nye the Science Guy gets his way, that is:



A reader forwarded me the above video, and in it Nye imagines a dystopian future in which the laundry industry has run amok:

"There'll be a place to take a shower when you get to work.  Furthermore, there'll be laundry services, small businesses that come into being that service people who change their clothes when they get to the office."

I'm not sure what he means by "service people," though I'm guessing the laundry people will provide you with a "naughty massage" while you're naked and waiting for your clothes to come out of the dryer.  He also imagines a series of tunnels so you can ride all over the place without getting wet:

"Bicycle arterials that were...weathertight.  Roofs and tunnels and passages where you wouldn't get soaking wet everywhere you rode.  You wouldn't be subject to headwinds everywhere you went."

I think he may be on to something there.  In fact, I think it would be even better if they laid tracks in these tunnels so that some kind of futuristic subterranean train could run through them.  They could call it something like a "Sub Way," or an "Under Ground," and people could use it to travel efficiently and cheaply over long distances--even if they didn't have bicycles.  Sure, that wouldn't leave room for bikes in the tunnels, but you could always ride those on the surface roads (assuming we still have them in Nye's apocalyptic future), where maybe they could have bike lanes, which are a lot easier to implement than a series of freaking bike tunnels.

Then, once we've become mole people, Nye thinks we can create a permanent tailwind down there via the judicious application of louvers:

"You could have bridges with louvers that direct wind through tunnels and everybody who rode either way through the tunnel would have a tailwind.  This is a crazy idea."

This is indeed a crazy idea, which I'm assuming Nye dreamed up while cruising around stoned and enjoying the breeze in his IROC:


(Louvers, baby.)

Presumably the ceilings of these bike tunnels will be festooned with fuzzy dice as well.

Anyway, here's Nye hoisting himself out of his t-tops in order to wolf-whistle at a passing "hottie" and invite her into his automobile:



("Gas, Grass, or Ass, Nobody Rides for Free" is an immutable law of physics according to Bill Nye.)

Either that, or he's miming being a subterranean cyclist poking his head out from beneath the streets to see if the weather has cleared.

Speaking of science, when I was in Los Angeles for my BRA I witnessed an ingenious invention that made it quite clear to me that the future is now:


Here's a closer look, which reveals that this rider has Velcroed some sort of homemade smartphone bracket to his helmet:


I'm assuming he's using this to make a video, though I suppose he could be using the mapping feature or simply viewing the world through the camera function so he can pretend that he's some kind of dork-tastic cyborg.  Then, he could have a futuristic laser fight with this guy:


I should mention that these photos were taken during CicLAvia, which coincided with my appearance at Orange 20 Bikes, and which featured all manner of flambullience, much of which frightened me deeply:


Of course, this being Los Angeles, beyond CicLAvia there weren't too many people walking or riding around, though what few pedestrians I did see really made it count:


Incidentally, I'm not sure what would happen if the pedestrian pictured above were to encounter his nonplussed East Coast anti-doppelganger, but I'm pretty sure the world would explode:


The bike, by the way, is for sale, as you can see in this Craigslist ad, which was forwarded by another reader:


$2,000 may seem a bit steep, but you best give him what he wants.  Or else.

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