Smoke On The Water

Yesterday evening I stepped out onto the street and wondered, “Who’s barbecuing?”

Of course it was not a barbecue at all; it was smoke from the Canada, where I guess they forgot to stuff a rolled-up towel into the crack of their dorm room door, and everywhere the panicked citizenry of New York was packing up and fleeing south:

This vendor shut his bubble tea hutch in such haste a customer was still trapped in it:

Just kidding:

By the way, a street vendor using a crosswalk to hitch his bubble tea hutch to his SUV is precisely the sort of situation that causes a typical livable streets advocate to short-circuit:

Though eventually they recover and write 3,000 word Streetsblog editorials about how congestion pricing will fix all this somehow.

Meanwhile, over at the Citi Bike rack the situation was similarly apocalyptic:

How does that even happen?

It’s like that scene in “There’s Something About Mary.”

As for me, I took to the Brooklyn Bridge, where the Manhattan skyline was barely visible through the haze:

For the full effect, build a campfire, sit very close to it, and watch this video:

Sadly I started rolling “tape” after the worst of the motor scooters (I pray that every single person who rides a motor scooter in the bike lane zips up his own ball, though if you’re riding a motor scooter in the bike lane instead of the street you probably don’t have any balls to zip up) and the guy on the track bike with the widest handlebars I’ve ever seen, so you don’t get to see any of that. In case you haven’t been keeping track (pun kind of intended), fixie handlebars have gone from >incredibly narrow< to <R I D I C U L O U S L Y F U C K I N G W I D E>. Apparently at some point between the mid-aughts and now fixed-gear riders discovered the concept of leverage, and for some reason they’d rather ride around with what appear to be Yakima crossbars bolted to their bikes than use a brake. This requires them to spread their arms spread very wide and hang their heads very low, which makes them look like they’re trying to sneak a peek underneath the door of a restroom stall.

Nevertheless, further to yesterday’s post, I still managed to capture the full spectrum of bicyclist safety behavior, from “overly cautious:”

To “Aw, fuck it:”

Alighting in Manhattan, a brownish pall hung over Chambers Street:

Between the smoke and the license plate in front of me I felt like I was in America’s most combustible state:

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but until a few years ago you almost never saw a California license plate in New York; now they’re all over the place. I don’t know why this is. Usually in New York you see the obvious tri-state plates (NY, NJ, and CT), plus plates from the “registration scam” states (PA, FL), and a smattering from the “I register my car at my vacation home” state (VT)–plus the now-ubiquitous fake paper ones. But why California? It doesn’t seem like there’d be a compelling reason to fraudulently register a car in California. Are people really traveling back and forth between California and New York that frequently? Certainly Californians and New Yorkers are by far the most annoying people in the country, so is there a wormhole for insufferable people I don’t know about that allows them to travel instantly between the two states? Or perhaps they’re just here to start wildfires. What I do know is there are fewer more boring subjects than license plates, but when you ride a bike you wind up staring at a lot of license plates and it’s hard not to think about them.

Also, that car had the same exact heat shield rattle that mine does. It’s the rattly 9-speed Ultegra shifter cap of automotive annoyances.

Once I’d made it across town I took to the West Side Greenway:

They’ve been telling people not to go outside due to the air quaility:

Yeah, right, whatever. I don’t ride for my health, I ride because I love it. If riding outside for an hour were the equivalent of smoking an entire pack of cigarettes I wouldn’t reduce my on-the-bike activities by a single pedal stroke. Some of us just gotta do what we gotta do, consequences be damned. We thick-headed stubborn types come from all walks of life, too, though the common denominator seems to be we gravitate towards activities that involve wearing tights:

This is not to say I’m completely heedless, and I did make sure I was visible through all the smoke:

This includes using a taillight, of course, since not all cars are equipped with a rattly heat shield warning system:

Oh, I’m still getting good use out of my Two Wheel Gear pannier, by the way, which was full because I stopped to join in on some wildfire-induced panic-looting:

Just kidding:

I did pick up some toilet paper though:

I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of energy schlepping toilet paper, and perhaps I should give serious consideration to a bidet:

Though I don’t know how I’d fit it in my pannier.

Further up the Hudson I got to see a man catch a fish:

Though I didn’t get a good shot of the fish:

It should provide him with ample sustenance as he flees New York on his electric scooter. Better yet, it will be pre-smoked.

Of course the problem with fleeing by scooter is that you need to charge it, which could be why these people are fleeing by outrigger canoe:

They should make landfall on Staten Island by Thursday:

As for me, until the air clears up, I’ll be on top of Old Smoky.

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