New Outside Column! …And Our Descent Into A Dystopian E-Cargo Hellscape


We’re now passing under the flamme rouge on the final stage of the Tour de 2022. There’s just Hanukah Channuka Jewish Christmas, then Christmas, and finally New Year’s Eve to get through, and then we’re at 2024 which is going to be the best 2024 EVER!!!

But first, I’ve got a new column in Outside, and it’s about those stupid “Tyre Extinguishers:”

Yes, it’s behind a Wall of Pay, but if you’re not a member or subscriber or whatever they’re calling it you can probably just wait, since most of them seem to get liberated eventually, as you can see here.

Speaking of annoyances, I made a round trip via bicycle to W. 23rd street in Manhattan today, and in so doing I got a glimpse of the future:

Above is 8th Avenue, which has received not only a protected bike lane but also a large pedestrian puffer thingy along the sidewalk. (It’s the beige portion of the roadway on the other side of the Citi Bike dock.) All of this is very good, especially the pedestrian thingy, since the sidewalk used to get so crowded that foot traffic would often spill over into the bike lane, which if I’m remembering correctly used to run along the curb:

By the way that’s not 8th Avenue, that’s just a photo of people walking in a bike lane that I found in my archives. This used to annoy the hell out of me, but I eventually realized people mostly do it because the sidewalks are too narrow, and if I were in their shoes (or sockless loafers) I’d probably figure, “Screw those biker douchebags” and do the same thing, too.

Then again, nobody told that guy to buy a medium-large designer dog in a city where street space is at a premium, so I’m less sympathetic to him in particular.

I’m getting distracted.

As for the current 8th Avenue configuration, it represents the very latest in street design, but in New York City mobility is changing much faster than the streetscape can keep up, and as you can see in that first photo it’s full of e-contraptions. In fact, between the delivery people and the electric Citi Bikes, I may have been the only person on an analog bike from 34th Steet to Columbus Circle. All of this was just fine by me…until this guy started riding my ass and beeping at me:

I begrudge no person their e-whatever, nor their right to make an honest living. At the same time, I’ve been around awhile. I’ve plied the streets of this city for many a year. I was a bicycle before all these fancy bike lanes were a gleam in Mike Bloomberg’s beady eye. I was throwing elbows with car traffic in this town while all the hot shots you see on YouTube today were sucking on yogurt pouches and watching SpongeBob SquarePants. What I’m saying is that I’ve earned the right to ride at a dignified pace on a pink Faggin without some cargo biker incessantly honking his shrill horn at me like he’s George Costanza on a Rascal–especially when all he had to do was wait to get past the Citi Bike dock at which point he could have easily passed me:

The smuggies are all tight in the crotch over this cargo bike delivery pilot:

Obviously that makes a huge amount of sense in a crowded city, but if you can’t use the bike lanes on a normal bike anymore that’s gonna suck. At a certain point a UPS truck standing in the bike lane is better than a UPS bike tailgating you in it. I guess eventually if you ride a regular bike you’ll just have to go back to fending for yourself.

(That muffled sound is John Forester shouting “I told you so!” from his wooden subterranean recumbent.)

Finally, this weekend I put an even longer stem on the Riv-ified Jones:

You’d think a Jones Bike without Jones bars would be like Van Halen without David Lee Roth, but it really feels great with the Tosco bar, especially with the extra stem length. Besides being extremely comfortable, the generous sweep makes it much easier to hoist the hefty rear end of the bike when riding with flat pedals, and the ahead-of-the-brake-lever hand position works well for climbing or when you want to get over the front wheel a bit as you would with a more traditional mountain bike bar:

I’m also now totally used to the Silver shifter/SRAM Eagle combination, which shouldn’t work but does, and the fact it looks like it’s flipping me off when it’s in high gear only serves as motivation:

I know exactly how it feels.

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