Clocking Out

When I was young and scrappy my city conveyance was a fixed-gear bicycle that I would secure with a single lock. Now I ride a lavishly-appointed bike replete with leather saddle and multiple quick-releases, and so when it comes time to park it for prolonged periods in the more populous precincts of this great metropolis I practice the “Pee-wee Herman” method:

Basically, I lock the frame with a ü-lock and the wheels and saddle with a couple of cables, and this makes me look like I’m setting out to scale some great escarpment:

Alas, recently, fate dealt me a crushing blow when I arrived at my destination only to find that one of my cables must have ejected itself during my ride, leaving me only one:

This was a hard way to learn the limitations of the humble toe strap, and I only hope whoever found the fugitive cable is deserving of it.

After discovering this, I was uneasy “under-locking” my bike, but I do sometimes wonder if I’m being over-cautious. I realize this smacks of “famous last words,” but I have a suspicion that pro bike thieves are far less interested in “regular” bikes and bike parts these days since the app-based delivery industry has created such a strong demand for e-bikes (and the motorized scooters people heedlessly lump in with e-bikes). I mean Inside Edition says it’s happening, so it’s gotta be true:

I’m surprised the thief wasn’t undone by the fact that he rode off with the kickstand deployed:

That first left turn’s a doozy.

By the way, as the “journalists” give chase, they offer some unintentionally insightful commentary into cars and urban mobility:

“He can move so much easier on the bike than we can in this Manhattan traffic.”

He can indeed.

Anyway, I’d be lying if I said I actually watched the whole video, but based on all the similar articles I haven’t read I do suspect that regular bikes are probably no longer as attractive to thieves as they once were. The delivery industry has likely always driven the bike black market, and the demand for purely pedal-powered bikes in that capacity now is probably nonexistent. So if you’re still stealing regular bikes you’re probably kind of an “artisan” thief feeding a much smaller and more selective market–the Rivendell of bike bandits, if you will.

Now, in no way am I gloating about any of this. Delivery people work very, very hard, and stealing their bikes is about as low as it gets. I’m also not suggesting the delivery people themselves are unscrupulous and go seeking out stolen bicycles–not all of us have the luxury of looking gift horses in the mouth. However, from a purely survivalist perspective, if my analog bike is safer because of it then all those mopeds in the bike lane is a small price to pay, and as deeply annoying as they can be I look forward to a day when I can park my finest bicycle with a single lock without fear.

Anyway, all my stuff was there when I got back, even though I used one less cable.

Oh, I also mentioned recently that Portland Design Works sent me a City Rover Power 700 headlight, and I finally got a chance to test it properly yesterday evening:

The stretch of the Hudson River Greenway north of the George Washington Bridge is quite dark, but I had all the light I needed:

I’ve got the light angled pretty far down out of courtesy here so it’s probably got a lot more range than this photo would suggest. I also have yet to charge the light since first mounting it, and I’d imagine I’ve run it for maybe three hours so far on the high setting; as you can see from the battery indicator, it’s still got plenty of juice. So in other words, so far, so good.

In other delightfully ironic local bicycle news, Streetsblog reports that the Brooklyn Academy of Music (more commonly known as “BAM”) doesn’t want a bike lane:

As they note, BAM is (was? is it still there?) famously the home of one of David Byrne’s more annoying bike racks:

See, during the halcyon days of the New York City bike boom, the city let David Byrne run amok, and in a fit of vanity and metrosexual megalomania he installed quasi-useless bike racks all over town:

I have no idea why they let him do this. It was like a mass formation psychosis. He might as well have installed a bunch of bidets. Here’s a vintage photo of my Scattante (RIP) at the BAM rack, which was poorly-conceived even by Byrne-ian standards, and which spelled out “micRo liP” for some reason:

Perhaps it was to distract from the fact that BAM are TOTAL NAZIS!!!

Just kidding:

But hey, it’s 2023, everyone you don’t agree with is automatically a Nazi, right?

Anyway, in retrospect, any organization that would allow a bike rack this shitty couldn’t possibly care too much about the people who actually ride bicycles. So what’s BAM’s reasoning for opposing the bike lane? Is it because it’s not designed by David Byrne, and it doesn’t spell out something stupid like “mAcro scRotum?” No, their reasoning is as follows:

I mean sure, on the surface it’s hilarious and hypocritical that an institution embodying Brooklyn at it’s most Brooklyn-y doesn’t want a bike lane. However, in their defense they’re also making a fair point: the city is full of bike lanes heedlessly plopped by bureaucrats who don’t ride bikes in places where they’re bound to be blocked, and this will probably become another one. They do it all the time. Like, who thought running a curbside (!) bike lane right through an auto repair district would work?

I mean I know the city’s long game is to get rid of the auto repair places and get the developers in there, but still.

And remember, this is the city that runs its bike lanes through the fucking bus stops:

The bus shelter ad for the personal injury attorney really says it all.

So yeah, a quick look at G**gle Street View reveals what goes on outside of BAM:

So BAM will say the bike lane won’t work and not to do it, the advocates will pillory them, it’ll go in anyway, the advocates will celebrate, the bike lane won’t work, and the advocates will climb back up Mount Calvary and pillory BAM some more. Meanwhile, there are trucks in every Street View of this spot for like the last ten years:

Of course the luxury high-rise across the street is new:

That used to be a parking lot:

But ironically the high-rise is probably bringing way more cars than the parking lot did.

Bike lane discourse is full of anti-bike lane people giving all sorts of ridiculous reasons for why we shouldn’t have them. At the same time, we bike people will often get behind a proposed bike lane in mob-like fashion even it’s a half-baked one, simply because we see that strip of green paint as a victory in itself. Then, when it sucks, we constantly complain about how there are delivery trucks in it. We need more bike lanes and a better bike lane network…yet at the same time sometimes it seems like these are bike lanes for the sake of bike lanes. Elected officials get to check a box, advocates get to take a victory lap, then it’s back to the fighting:

At this point I’m quite at ease with my own laziness. Let them sort it out, I’m riding either way. It’s more fun to watch the cartoon than to be a character in it.

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