When I returned home from my vacation I found a landscape transformed…a world turned upside down…a Yonkers that apparently now has [dripping blood letters] BIRD SCOOTERS [/dripping blood letters]:
If you’re unfamiliar with New York City-area geography, Yonkers is the city a mere mile and a half from my abode, and I pass through it regularly on my velocipedal perambulations. The presence of Bird scooters in Yonkers is noteworthy in that they have been the subject of much debate in New York City, and are in fact still not allowed here. So the fact that they’ve established a beachhead a mere bidon’s toss from the city line is a noteworthy development.
I’ve always been supportive of scooters as a form of nimble and accessible transport, dismissing concerns that they’ll overwhelm our hospitals as I am wont to do. Yes, you’ve probably forgotten now, but before The Pando it was scooters that were the biggest menace to public health facing American society. (Funny how the common denominator with this stuff is always CNN.) Yet here I was, staunch micromobility advocate, riding through Yonkers and muttering to myself, “Who’s the fucking asshole who parked a scooter in the goddamn street?”
See, the advocacy line is that, “Hey, at least it’s not a car,” and strictly speaking this is true. At the same time, this is a narrow street, and I can at least see a Hyundai, whereas on a grey street on a grey day I’m liable to ride into this fucking thing if I so much as look down for a moment to admire my spiffy new cycling shoes:
Don’t act like it couldn’t happen to you.
Anyway, I’m old enough to remember when scooters were a controversial subject in Portland, and I even went there to investigate. Sure, people were worried they’d be bad for the city, but here we are two years later and I’m pleased to report that Portland’s doing just grea–oh, right…
Not to be one of those people who judges others solely by appearance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least some of the members of that scooter gang I encountered at the Plaid Pantry have since graduated to arson:
The situation was more dire later that night at a Whole Foods near downtown. I’d scooted over there okay, but now I had a backpack full of food items and couldn’t find another ride for the return trip. Like a junkie looking to score I found myself jockying the scooter apps looking for the nearest ride, and I finally tracked a pair of Skips to the darkened parking lot of a Plaid Pantry convenience store.
As I approached the two scooters, already anticipating being swept away on that intoxicating electric wave, I noticed that there was a group of leather-clad people standing around them. I hesitated. Were these bait scooters? Could this be some kind of gang using them to lure unsuspecting scooter bros? Was I about to find myself on the receiving end of a Portland-style beatdown?
Steeling myself, I drew closer, clutching my phone and fingering the Skip app. The figure closest to the scooters took a drag from his Parliament and grabbed the handgrips.
“Yeah, we’re kind of holding these.”
Ah yes, I remember it as if it were two years ago.
Besides making sense of the topsy-turvy scooter-adjacent world in which I now live, I’ve also had to come to terms with having access to multiple bikes again. For almost three weeks I had “only” the Rivendell, with the American M-16 for a chaser. Life was simple. Now I’ve got a whole walk-in closet full of bikes again, including the 1975 Teledyne Titan, on loan from Classic Cycle:
Note that I’ve photographed it in front of a Dumpster as an homage to its sordid provenance:
We don’t know who originally owned this bike. Erich Weiter from Bikes for Kids in Tacoma donated it to our museum collection after finding it in the metal recycling at the dump (check out http://www.bikesforkids.us if you get the chance).
You know what sucks? I went to the dump while I was upstate and I didn’t find any awesome bicycles. Then again, they guy who ran it also said they’re often visited by a giant bear, so I guess I should just be thankful I wasn’t mauled.
As I mentioned, back when I received the bicycle, I noticed that one of the derailleur pulleys was cracked. Shortly thereafter, an envelope had arrived containing not only a pair of replacements, but also a handsome Classic Cycles jersey. Here are the pulleys–which, unless my eyes are deceiving me, also look like they may have faint cracks in them:
Nevertheless, this past weekend I finally got around to replacing the offending pulley:
I also took the time to admire the bicycle, and one noteworthy aspect of it is that the frame has no bosses, stops, or or guides of any kind. See? They’re all banded on:
There was a time earlier in our current century when this would have made it an ideal candidate for a really clean fixed-gear conversion, and of course the bike’s rarity would have netted it considerable street credit. However, in a cruel bit of irony, despite being from 1975 the frame actually has vertical drop-outs, which would have thwarted the ambitions of anyone looking for glory and adulation on the Fixed Gear Gallery.
Maybe that’s why it wound up at the dump.
Anyway, in the spirit of getting all the bikes currently under my auspices in optimal condition, while in Queens yesterday I found myself near a bike shop so I popped in and picked up a sorely-needed replacement chain for my Jones LWB:
As I always do after buying something at a bike shop, I plugged it into a popular search engine just to see how much cheaper I could have gotten it online. (Please note I don’t do this out of spite or resentment, bike shops need to charge what they charge, it’s just the sort of thing I like to know–and if you’re wondering, the answer is $9 cheaper, though that doesn’t account for the shipping.) When I did, this is what I saw:
Yikes. If I wanted to mess around with circumcision I wouldn’t have gotten a chain with a quick link.