Knocking Around

Further to yesterday’s post, another fundamental difference between the Jones and the Rivendell is that, while both beg to be ridden far and wide, the Rivendell is equally conducive to short, aimless wanderings close to home, which is what I used it for this morning:

Way back towards the hindquarters of the Dachshund of Time, the overgrown area beyond the chain link fence used to look like this:

Obviously it’s merely a shadow of its former self, but they did build a new skatepark not too far from it, so there’s that.

I also checked in with the swan family, and the cygnets are growing up nicely:

I don’t know if the swan on the left is the mom or the dad, but either way I know how it feels. It warms my heart to watch these creatures grow up, but more than that, it gives me an opportunity to use the word “cygnets.” So as soon as they grow up I’ll immediately stop caring.

I also came upon these two duck bros who were sitting in the middle of the bike lane and not giving a fuck:

Obviously I rang my bell repeatedly and then threatened to call the police.

The rest of the ride I spent exploring trails where, strictly speaking, you’re not supposed to ride your bike. (Shhh!) Poking around in the woods in these parts is a tricky business, in that its sort of a mixed bag of hidden gems and unsavory signs of recent human habitation. Generally speaking I’m not a fan of pointing my bike where it doesn’t belong (why upset walkers or run afoul of the authorities when there’s legal mountain biking not all that far away?), but at the same time, whether rightly or wrongly, I feel as though with the world all topsy-turvy there’s sort of an informal suspension of some of our more pointless rules and statutes. Anyway, many of these paths are so long forgotten–severed and ruined by the parkways and expressways Robert Moses ran through the park– that I doubt anyone really knows what the rules are on most of them. If I were wired differently I’d try to work with the parks department to rehabilitate them for bicycling use or something like that, but it takes most of my energy and initiative to clean my apartment on a weekly basis, so the chances of that happening are non-existent.

After my ride, I finally put together the BMX bike I ordered from Ben’s Cycle for my son’s birthday. (Shhh!) It was a straightforward affair, but I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to thread in the left pedal before I realized the reason it wasn’t going in was that the bike came with two rights:

I should note this has nothing to do with Ben’s Cycle, that’s just how the bike came out of the box. Having put together my share of new bikes I’ve never come across one that was accidentally packed with two right pedals by the manufacturer (or pedal supplier as the case may be), but maybe those of you with shop experience have seen differently. Anyway, I had a spare set of plastic pedals laying around, so the bike will be ready to ride for him tomorrow morning regardless. (I did not take the bike to the skatepark for a shakedown ride in order to avoid breaking either it or myself.)

In other news, here’s more “No shit” news from our doltish mayor:

You can delete “short term.”

As I wrote for Outside not too long ago, I’m not optimistic that the current shitshow will undermine car culture, and in fact I think it will be quite the opposite. I also remain vexed by something I alluded to in the column:

As for those open streets victories in Oakland and New York, they were predicated on the idea of facilitating social distancing, a concept that will one day go the way of those Cold War-era “Fallout Shelter” signs you still see on old apartment buildings. 

I think it’s unfortunate that advocates have been pushing for street changes on the basis of social distancing just as I think it’s counterproductive to try to sell people on cycling because it’s good for the environment. In both cases, you’re not promoting cycling based on its merits so much as you’re trying to advance your agenda (I don’t mean that negatively, it’s also my agenda) based on guilt and fear. If anything, fear drives people into cars. By the way, here’s what those “open streets” look like:

This is hardly transformational.

Granted, it’s a tricky situation; with traffic greatly reduced (though has been coming back) and more people riding bikes, of course it’s a perfect opportunity to show people the benefits of giving less space to cars and more space to people. At the same time, requiring people to maintain distance is not only a concept with an expiration date, but it’s also inherently antithetical to what a city is all about, so any “progress” made on that basis in a city like New York is built on shaky ground. (See: that out-of-the-way street blocked off with a couple of sawhorses.) I think deep down even our doltish mayor knows this, which is why he feels so comfortable doing fuck-all.

In a way, by hitching their Burley trailer to the pandemic, advocates may have given him exactly the excuse he needs.

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