Torture Testing

If you’ve ever longed to see a bunch of cheap-ass handlebars (and one not-so-cheap handlebar) versus a hydraulic press, well have I got a video for you:

It’s a strange test that is teaches us almost nothing, and yet who doesn’t want to see what happens when you push a $20 crabon bar to its limit?

Also, there’s only one name-brand bar in there, chosen for reasons the video does not make clear:

I’m so out of touch with what bicycle parts actually cost that I have no idea whether that’s a lot or a little for an alumin(i)um riser bar:

It feels like a lot though.

Anyway, not to spoil it, but the crabon bar makes a delightful crackling sound as pressure is applied:

And ultimately breaks apart like a wet stick:

Here are the final numbers:

This teaches us nothing about the merits or drawbacks of the relative materials, since categories like “steel” and “aluminum” are so broad as to be meaningless, but it was still kinda fun to watch. Unsurprisingly the name-brand bar did best, no doubt because it was heat treated or whatever else they do to a decent quality mountain bike bar. Also, it seems to me the crabon bar’s high number belies the fact that it was the only one that actually broke apart.

Speaking of being crushed by a hydraulic press, that’s what it’s like to live in New York City, and the DOT is going to whip out the ol’ shoehorn and cram an extra-wide bike lane into 10th Avenue:

Of course this is a good thing, and it’s only “cramming” if you believe that 10th Avenue should have eleventy million lanes for cars like it does now, though I admit this part scares me a bit:

Advocates are always warning about induced demand with regard to highway widening and cars, and I can’t help thinking wider bicycle lanes are just going to mean more motor scooters and the like going where the bikes are supposed to be–think of it as “in-douched demand.” Really, at this point it seems hopelessly naive to think that anything resembling a dedicated bicycle network can exist in midtown Manhattan, and the term “bicycle lane” itself is beginning to sound like a vestigial linguistic remnant from a bygone era, kind of like how you’ll still hear “dial” with regard to phone numbers even though nobody’s actually dialed a phone in like 40 years.

Still, as I say, overall the new Bike Lane XL is a good thing, or at the very least not a bad thing, and it’s equally naive to pretend this new type of transportation doesn’t exist or that the city shouldn’t try to figure out how to accommodate it. I mean sure, the new bike lane could very well turn out to be a clusterfuck, but compared to what’s there now how bad could it possibly be? It’s 2023 and the current state of New York City’s streets is just embarrassing. Basically, it’s just cars, bikes, various mutant motorized gizmos, and pathetic curbside dining sukkahs battling for space:

One day I’ll quit this blog and open a chain of Home Depot-scale Judaica stores called “I’m Gonna Git You Sukkah.”

By the way, note the scooterist whizzing by on the sidewalk:

Meanwhile, from the same local news outlet comes this story about a bicyclist who has critically injured a pedestrian:

I can’t be sure, but that looks very much like an electric Citi Bike to me:

The story calls him a “hit-and-run cyclist,” but it was more like he hit, hung around for awhile, and then casually rode away:

The bike rider initially remained on the scene and was there with the police but later you see the person pick up the bike and ride off.

After that first half-hour Citi Bike charges you $4 every 15 minutes, so he probably was worried about running up a big bill. Expect advocates to start lobby for free Citi Bikes on the basis that it will encourage riders who run down pedestrians to stick around.

It’s frustrating that bike-on-ped crashes get so much attention, whereas drivers hit people so often it seems totally unremarkable. Similarly, it’s tempting to dismiss people who say stuff like this:

I don’t even think about cars when I cross the street; as I cross the street I’m looking for the bikes. Left, right, I’m looking for the bikes. It’s horrible.

I mean how hard can he be looking for anything in those glasses?

However, the truth is that so much of the riding in the Chrystie Street bike lane is in fact abjectly horrible. Bicyclists run lights at the t-intersections as pedestrians try to cross. Gentrification Bros on freshly-assembled consumer-direct bikes curse out elderly people who dare put a single foot in the bike lane. A few months ago I even saw a Citi Biker tending to the elderly man she must have just hit, right near where this latest crash occurred. So Deal-With-It-Glasses Guy really isn’t lying.

Sometimes you’re the press, and sometimes you’re the bar. In the city, bicyclists can be both. We should do everything we can to be neither.

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