Just Another Normcore Friday

Not too long ago I mentioned Jeremy Vine, professional British media person and amateur near-miss enthusiast. While I don’t seek out his content, the algorithms that are taking over our consciousness are determined to make me see it anyway, and so this morning I came across this:

When I see a motorist blithely chatting away on the phone while making a sweeping unsignalled turn as pedestrians in the crosswalk scatter I most certainly fantasize about wresting the device from their hands, dumping it in a mailbox, and then stealing their car keys while they’re vainly attempting to retrieve it and then throwing those down a storm drain. But while seeking comfort in reverie is one thing, I don’t bother confronting them, since I’ve learned over the years that it’s never worth it. And I certainly don’t understand the logic of going out of your way to confront a driver who’s using the phone while he’s just sitting there behind a bus–which the videographer has apparently done about a thousand times, as he boats to the motorist. It’s a self-correcting problem: the bus moves, everyone behind him starts honking, he puts the phone down, and life goes on.

Then again, if I lived in London I might confront drivers myself just to revel in the language, because those people curse exquisitely and this guy really hit the jackpot:

“Soppy!,” for chrissake!

This is the equivalent of confronting a driver in New York and getting “Goodfellas” Joe Pesci:

Which would be awesome until he shot you in the mouth:

I blame advocacy for these self-appointed Guardians of the Streets, though I suppose that’s kind of unfair, like blaming video games for violent behavior. Whether it’s a cyclist in a DayGlo vest and a helmet mirror scolding a driver or a teenager throwing firecrackers at a cat, it’s tempting to place the blame on society at large, but ultimately it’s really just an individual with faulty wiring. Then again, Hell hath no smugness like an advocate scorned, and just as drivers like the one above launch into free jazz-like odysseys of invective, the “livable streets” set is given to flights of hyperbole that border on the poetic:

I see your “soppy cunt” and raise you an “obit for democracy:”

Wait, whose legacy did he blow up?

To be sure, Adams’s decision here is certainly a craven one, but the idea that the livable streets movement isn’t also part of the “donor class” or the “Brooklyn party machine” is rather adorable. As a craven mayor, it’s not about deciding between the donor class and what’s actually right; it’s about deciding which well-connected group to appease. If you put in a bike lane and remove a car lane and some parking you anger the NIMBYs and the businesses with lots of big-ass trucks and the spoiled municipal employees who drive and park wherever they want. If you don’t, you incur the wrath of the media-connected elite and the real estate industry and the car share companies who back the advocacy groups because they always get a carve-out based on the myth that Ubers and Lyfts and Zipcars will replace private car ownership. It’s a tough spot for a weasel, and unless you’re a billionaire who does whatever the fuck he wants you don’t get elected mayor of New York if you’re not a weasel.

Still, this is an extreme reaction even for Streetsblog, and that’s probably because of the cultural significance of McGuinness Boulevard, which connects the hyper-gentrified neighborhood of Greenpoint (formerly Greenpernt), Brooklyn with the hyper-gentrified neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens:

A tamed McGuinness represents either the ultimate realization of an urbanist fantasy and the complete transformation of the Great Hipster Silk Route, or else the final nail in the coffin and the tragic death of the old neighborhood, depending on the particular “donor class” to which you belong. More than any street redesign in recent memory it’s a cultural proxy war, and Adams’s craven capitulation is a blow to a group that is increasingly accustomed to winning.

Moving on to more Fredly matters, I’m going to do derailleur surgery on the Milwaukee at some point, so this morning I rode the Normcore Bike instead:

It may not be too much to look at:

But don’t let it’s aura of intense mediocrity fool you. When I first reassembled the Milwaukee I thought to myself, “This feels fantastic! I can’t believe I was riding around on that old Trek!” Then when I got back on that old Trek I thought to myself, “Wow, this feels way better than I remember it. In fact, it feels fantastic!”

At this point, I should probably just come to terms with the fact that trying to parse the so-subtle-as-to-be-meaningless differences between extremely similar bicycles is an absurd futile endeavor, and that ultimately I just like riding bikes too much to be any kind of a critic.

After a few pedal strokes, they’re pretty much all fantastic.

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