Sooo Happy To Be Back!!!

This past weekend I returned from a very warm place to the cold, crackly reality of life at this latitude:

Well, you know, at least until climate change makes baked potatoes of us all:

Monday’s report, from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), showed if that limit is breached, some changes will be irreversible for hundreds — if not thousands — of years. And some changes may be permanent, even if the planet cools back down.

The world is already 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than before industrialization, according to the IPCC’s estimate, which is considered conservative. We are now rapidly barreling toward 1.5 degrees.

We should absolutely panic, because these sorts of apocalyptic climate change predictions almost always turn out exactly as predicted:

Obviously he was wrong about the West Side Highway being under water by 2019 or whatever, but I suppose he gets a couple of points for being right about the increased traffic and crime.

And yes, I know, just because the West Side Highway isn’t underwater doesn’t mean we’re not in trouble. Take off those blinders! What about those islands in the Pacific?

Oh, wait:

Scientists at the University of Auckland found atolls in the Pacific nations of Marshall Islands and Kiribati, as well as the Maldives archipelago in the Indian Ocean, have grown up to 8 per cent in size over the past six decades despite sea level rise.

What nerve! Those islands really should read the news.

Before you get all petulant, of course islands growing doesn’t mean the climate’s not changing. However, it does tend to underscore the folly of making dire predictions, and the futility of living life in a state of existential dread. I’m not even on the wrong side of 50 yet and I’ve long lost count of all the things that were supposed to have destroyed society by now…though I suppose there’s still time.

Anyway, while I was away I didn’t engage in any bicycle cycling, though I did spend some time on a motorcycle and once again found myself tempted to sell a couple of bikes or something and order one of these upon my return, though so far I haven’t:

Not that it’s my dream bike or anything (it’s the moto equivalent of a Bikesdirect special), but it’s cheap and small enough to keep you out of trouble, and I can tell you from experience that when you own a motorcyle in New York City half the time you return to it only to find someone’s managed to knock it over so there’s no sense getting anything fancy unless you have somewhere to store it safely. In any case, to prevent myself from buying one I tore myself away from my keyboard and went for a ride instead:

So far the bamboo bars continue to hold up well, I continue to enjoy their comfortably sproingy quality, and I appreciate how they’ve imparted a plush, cruiser-ish, age-appropriate ride quality to this bike now that my off-road hammering days are largely behind me. (The fact that they’re not rated for full-on mountain biking also keeps me from doing anything stupid.)

Speaking of the environment, and various modes of transportation, there was a time that advocate types were excited about car share programs. The hope was this would allow people in cities to forego private car ownership, and the city even started a car share pilot whereby it set aside a small number of parking spaces specifically for shared automobiles. Since those starry-eyed days this urbanist car-lite sharing-is-caring utopia hasn’t quite panned out, but car-sharing does still exist, and being characteristically late to the party I finally used it for the first time this past weekend, to go from my home to Astoria, Queens:

There’s lots of talk about how people should be traveling, and obviously the smugerati are in basic agreement that driving in the city is B-A-D. At the same time, there’s also reality, and here were my choices for undertaking this journey, as well as their relative merits:


Absolutely, I’m always looking for an excuse to ride. However, I was going with my youngest son, age 7, and even if there were some sort of exquisite bicycle superhighway between Riverdale and Astoria I wouldn’t relish the return trip with a young child in the freezing cold at night.

Ebike/Micromobility Vehicle/Motorbike/Etc.

I currently own none of the above, and even if I did the qualifier above still applies.

Public Transit

It’s cheap, it keeps my smugness cred intact, and I’ve undertaken this very trip with the kids many times. At the same time, it’s mostly performative, in that if you’re lucky it’s an hour and 20 minutes one way, whereas in a car it’s anywhere from 20 minutes with no traffic to an hour in really heavy traffic. So as a motor vehicle owner I really only do it to prove a point and to build character in my children, who should be exposed at least periodically to crushing delays, rats, and crazy people.

Uber Or Similar

Expensive, and you’re in a car with a stranger, which is certainly fine but I’d still rather not be. Also, I’m one of those people who hates being in a car when I’m not driving it. (I believe the word for this kind of person is “male.”) Plus you can’t stop on the way to do other errands.

Private Car

We own one (1) family car. The other half of the family was using it.

Rental Car

The nearest car rental place closes at noon on Saturday and doesn’t open again until Monday.

Car Share

Several months ago I got a Zipcar membership. So far I’d never used it. I figured I’d use it.

My first Zipcar experience was initially frustrating; looking for nearby vehicles I could use that afternoon, the only one available when I needed it was a Ford Transit van all the way in Inwood. But I checked back a little while later and miraculously there was a Subaru Crosstrek a short walk from my home. I worried it might be hard to find, but the previous driver had been considerate enough to leave it on the sidewalk for me:

In their defense, the lot was full, but…come on.

I was easily able to access the car, though the alarm blared until I was able to find the key fob in the console. My son and I took our respective seats, and I remarked to him that the car was rather dirty. “Yeah, there’s hair in here,” he noted, and sure enough there was a clump of it lodged in his seat belt buckle:

There was also some trash on the floor:

As well as what appears to be marijuana detritus:

Plus general crud in the cupholders and pretty much everywhere:

Also, the car smelled terrible, and the tire pressure warning light was illuminated on the dash display.

Overall, the car was grimy and stinky enough that I felt squeamish in it. That aside, I liked the ride quality and handling of the car, and the convenience of the gas card in the visor Zipcar provides as part of the service, and the fact you can lock and unlock the car with your phone. I did not like the price:

That’s almost exactly what I paid the last time I rented a car at the local Enterprise, only I got it for 24 ours and it was immaculately clean:

I also admit I want a Chevy Spark even more than I want a small displacement motorcycle.

Anyway, the Zipcar was basically like getting in the subway car with he sleeping homeless person in it, only 46 times more expensive.

Now I have no idea if that level of filth is typical for a Zipcar, or if it’s because our nearest Zipcar lot is on a college campus and college kids are disgusting. Either way, based on price alone, if you didn’t own a car and used a Zipcar twice a month at this rate it would be very hard not to just decide, “Fuck it, I’m leasing a Hyundai.” Certainly that calculus could change if you lived in Manhattan or a neighborhood where parking was exceptionally difficult, or if you just hate the idea of owning a car in general, which I can certainly understand, but that aside if you’re going to spend that much you might as well get a car that’s available when you need it, that you can equip with racks or whatever if you’re a bike person or an outdoorsy type, and that contains grime and smells of which you at least know the provenance.

Since I “need” access to an additional car every once in awhile I guess I’ll hang onto the Zipcar membership for now, but based on my (admittedly extremely limited) experience with car share it’s hard to see it changing the paradigm of transportation in New York City.

Maybe I should just buy that motorcycle.

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