Bikes: There Goes the Neighborhood

Futher to yesterday's post, a number of readers pointed out that I may have incorrectly identified the nationway of the Mankini Castaway's flag:

To wit:

Anonymous said...

Rookie error by BikeSnob NYC there, confusing the Aussie Flag with what is actually the New Zealand flag...its a New Zealand flag, ergo, the guy on the roof was a sheep rooter/defiler....

our Kiwi cousins often pretend to be Aussies because they are so ashamed of their minnow status in everything...

July 30, 2012 9:48 PM

I'm not even sure it's possible to positively identify the flag given the extremely poor quality of the picture, which I took with professional quality photo equipment from the cockpit of a helicopter, and not with a Cheetos dust-smudged smartphone from my couch.  In fact, I'm not even sure it's possible to positively identify that flag if you're standing right in front of it, since the Australian flag looks like this:

And the New Zealand flag looks like this:

Or maybe the Australian flag looks like this:

And the New Zealand flag looks like this:

Honestly I have no idea.  All I know is that if these two so-called "countries" want people to be able to tell them apart they should at least have different flags.  It can also be difficult to differentiate Canadians from actual Americans, but you can't say our flags aren't distinctive.  Here's Canada's:
(That's a maple leaf, and not a silhouette of two turkeys humping.)

And here's America's:

(America: Guns, Trucks, and Money)

Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag back in 1492 (that's "sewed" in the American sense, meaning that she drew it on paper and then had it made in China), and you can see why we don't stitch that onto our backpacks like the Canadians do.  Instead, we just stitch Canadian flags on there so people will be nice to us and not take us hostage.

(By the way, if you ever want to be sure the person you're dealing with is an actual Canadian, just ask him or her to name the US Secretary of State.  If he answers correctly, then he's a Canadian.)

Meanwhile, here in Brooklyn, bike thefts in Williamsburg have apparently quadrupled:

I'm no criminalologist, but there are three (17) likely explanations for this:

1) More people are cycling in Williamsburg;
2) Criminals have realized that more people are cycling in Williamsburg and have decided to start taking their bicycles from them;
5) Given the constant influx of transplants from other parts of the United States, the typical Williamsburger is now roughly four times more likely to be utterly clueless, which makes taking bikes from them extremely easy;
D) A fine dessert cheese can complement any meal.

I told you I wasn't a criminalologist.

So what can you do to protect your bike?  Well, obviously you should put a lock on it, and it also helps if your city bike is an easily replaceable piece of crap and not a $5,000 rolling artisanal handjob:

Hey, it's a very nice bike, but this is Brooklyn and not Portland.  Sure, it's almost impossible to tell the two places apart now, but the resemblance is still largely superficial.

Also, according to a bike messenger quoted in the above article, you should also personalize your bike and have lots of friends:

Ciminera, 29, said she didn't go to the police when her bike was stolen months ago, but that other members of the bike messenger community spotted it 15 minutes after she sent a mass text message to make people watch out for the personalized two-wheeler, whose stickers and decorations made it recognizable.

"They went on a high-speed chase and got it back," recalled Ciminera. "It's good to personalize your bike, not just to ride around a factory Schwinn."

I drive more people away from me every year so the friend thing is not an option, but the personalization tip is a particularly good one, so I took her advice by putting distinctive $2,000 crabon racing wheels on my Scattante and then hanging a bunch of $600 electronic rear derailleurs from the top tube.  Sure, all that cost me more than a Beloved, but if the bike gets stolen while I'm in a bar getting drunk with a bunch of Portland transplants it will be instantly recognizable.

Ironically though, while everyone seems to want to steal bikes in Brooklyn, nobody in Brooklyn seems to want bikes around.  Consider the $40 million velodrome a wealthy benefactor wants to gift to the city, and which the neighborhood residents don't want:

So what could possibly be so bad about putting a velodrome on the Brooklyn waterfront?  Well, here's the mind-bendingly paradoxical reasoning behind the opposition:

Leaders of the major community groups in the neighborhoods abutting the park, including Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo, have questions about the track. They say they worry about the building’s size (with a footprint of up to 70,000 square feet, it is larger than a football field) and the traffic it might draw to the cobbled streets of Brooklyn Heights, while pointing out the relatively obscure nature of track cycling, in which riders on fixed-gear bicycles without brakes travel at terrific speeds around curves banked at 45-degree angles.

In other words, they say that arena will draw too much traffic, yet at the same time track cycling is "obscure," which means nobody is going to come see it.  I suppose the project is also too big yet too small, and too cheap yet too expensive, and too crazy yet too sane, and up is down, and 2+2+5.

On top of all this, I wonder if it ever occurred to any of the brilliant amateur urban planners who comprise these "community groups" that a lot of these bike racing fans might actually ride their fucking bikes to the velodrome, and that you could fit about a hundred bikes in the space two of these "community group" members take up with their cars.

I was also intrigued by the article's description of track racing:

"...riders on fixed-gear bicycles without brakes travel at terrific speeds around curves banked at 45-degree angles."

Is it even necessary to explain the concept of bikes racing around an indoor track?  I remember when journalists used to explain the fixed-gear trend by saying they're like the bikes track racers use.  Now they explain track racing by saying they're like the bikes fixed-gear riders use.  It makes track racing sound like some kind of newfangled indoor alleycat, and as though track racing followed the fixed-gear trend and not the other way around.

But the most convincing anti-velodrome argument was this completely irrelevant zebra metaphor:

“You can paint stripes on a horse, but that doesn’t make it a zebra,” said Peter Flemming, co-chairman of the independent Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Council and a resident of Brooklyn Heights. “Nor can calling this a ‘field house’ make it anything other than an Olympic-class track-cyling velodrome.”

You can call a velodrome cockblocker the co-chairman of the independent Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Council, but that doesn't make him not a velodrome cockblocker.

Oh, also, someone named Candace is afraid velodrome-bound cars could "overwhelm the neighborhood:"

Candace Lombardi, a Brooklyn Heights resident of 17 years, said she worried that the cars that would most likely descend on the velodrome could overwhelm the neighborhood. (There is no parking in the plan.) “This is a little 19th-century street with cobblestones,” she said, pointing to the foot of Joralemon Street, which is near the proposed site. “I’m just thinking about all the spectators and the traffic this will bring.”

Between this and the complaints about bike share stations, people in Brooklyn Heights must have the most bloated sense of entitlement on this side of the Willamette.  Brooklyn Heights is right on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, and adjacent to downtown Brooklyn, which is full of courthouses and municipal buildings and colleges and office buildings--yet somehow the velodrome is going to be the thing that "overwhelms the neighborhood."  I'd suggest to Candace Lombardi that if she's looking for tranquility she made a bad choice by moving to Brooklyn Heights, and if she wants a peaceful upscale enclave dripping with charm and cachet and within reasonable commuting distance to Manhattan she may want to look into a picturesque little neighborhood called Connecticut.

As for the pro-velodrome people, they've found themselves a handy scapegoat in the form of beach volleyball players:

As for critics who have dismissed track cycling as elitist, obscure or simply weird, Mr. Reiners countered that Brooklyn Bridge Park recently opened three regulation-size sand volleyball courts on Pier 6. “If that’s the criteria for building facilities in this park, that it has to be very well known and popular, then that seems like a facetious argument,” he said. “Beach volleyball is fairly obscure itself.”

Actually, the solution is obvious, and I think the perfect compromise would be to use the space not as a velodrome but as an indoor cyclocross park where the riders compete in bikinis.  This should please everybody.  Plus, everybody knows cyclocross is the new track racing anyway.  Buying an expensive track bike, saying you're going to take it to the velodrome, and never actually doing it is so five years ago.  Now it's all about buying an expensive cyclocross bike, saying you're going to race cyclocross, never actually doing it, but justifying the bike by riding it on a short gravel path every once in awhile and taking lots of photos of it.

As for the people who actually do race track bikes, the "simply weird" criticism isn't entirely unwarranted.  Consider this article which was forwarded to me by a reader:

Are you wondering what the Olympic athletes are doing to pass the time before they compete in competitions they've trained their entire lives for?

If you're part of the German men's cycling team, then you pass the time by pulling down your pants and having a good old fashioned "quad off."

As well as the accompanying Tweet:

Actually, there's nothing weird about that, it's just Hans and Franz hanging out with in the Olympic Village's Castro district with no pants on.

Between the beach volleyball and the "quad-offs" the Brooklyn waterfront is going to be the new Muscle Beach.
automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine