New Outside Column! And Other Stuff Too!

Here’s my latest Outside column, which is about why cycling should never have surrendered completely to Big Dick Disc:

And before you get all indignant, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any disc brakes. I’m just saying it’s silly that most bicycles now have them. Pulling a number out of my ass, I’d say it makes sense for like 25% of bicycles to have discs; the rest should have rim brakes. (Or some combination of coaster and drum brakes if it’s a city bike that lives outside. And I’m not factoring e-bikes into this calculation, since for the sake of this brake-related discussion I prefer to pretend that they don’t exist.) But Big Dick Disc knows that as soon as one rider gets a big dick disc then every other rider feels either inadequate or like they’re missing out and wants a big dick disc too. So now it’s great big dicks discs in your face everywhere you look.

Speaking of rim brakes, I freely admit I’m under the influence of Big Lug, and Rivendell of course is the BlackRock of the Rim Brake Industrial Complex. Believe it or not, they never ask me to mention stuff like this, but I happened to notice that you can now pre-order a Platypus complete:

[Photo: Rivendell, probably with one of those old-timey cameras where you hide under a curtain and the flash is a giant explosion]

I love my own Platypus dearly:

And I can absolutely relate to this sentiment:

I mean if I had to choose at gunpoint it would definitely be the Platypus. Or maybe the Jones. Or maybe I’d just go with a road bike and figure I’ll take the subway the rest of the time. Or maybe…you know what? Fuck it, just shoot me.

Still, the complete version seems like a great way to get yourself a Platypus if you’re not sitting on enough parts (figuratively speaking, never sit on bike parts, especially cassettes and seatposts without saddles on them) to make building up a frame an economical proposition. My wife’s Clem Smith was also a complete from overseas and in terms of the parts and the assembly we couldn’t be more pleased with it.

Meanwhile, “progress” marches on, and New York City is lifting its cap on for-hire cars (that’s Ubers and Lyfts)…just as long as they’re electric:

As I’ve mentioned before, these vehicles have come to account for much of the traffic in the city, so at this point it seems delusional to believe that congestion pricing in New York City will actually reduce congestion. But it’ll be electric congestion, so at least you won’t hear the car before it runs you over.

Meanwhile, the legislative movement in New York City to require e-bike registration continues to attract supporters:

To be perfectly clear, I do not in any way support this. Why? Because it’s stupid. If license plates stopped people from running people over or crashing into each other we wouldn’t see 40,000 motor vehicle deaths a year in this country. Also, as I know from personal experience, riding a vehicle that requires licensing or registration in no way prevents the NYPD from issuing me a summons if I choose to break traffic law. It also doesn’t prevent them from charging a bicyclist who kills someone with a serious crime, even if they choose not to do so.

At the same time, the situation with e-bikes (and motor scooters, at this point in New York City you really can’t separate the two) is extremely frustrating. The were supposed to get people out of cars or something, but all they’ve really done is intensify existing anti-bike sentiment, while fucking up the bicycle network to boot. Just as I think e-bike licensing is stupid I’d also never call for them to be banned, but I also think it’s time to move on from all the idealism around e-bikes and acknowledge the new issues they cause:

Who cares if they get gas-powered motor scooters, register them with the DOT, and ride them in the streets where they belong? That’s better than what’s currently going on in the bike lanes. I suspect the “safety-in-numbers” effect for regular bicyclists stops working once a significant number of bikes in the network are throttle-powered.

Like bicycle brakes, bicycle advocacy used to be simple: bikes are great, we should make it safer for people to ride them. Now bikes are electric and social media is pervasive so it’s become an ideological struggle that often feels designed to alienate people:

Fuck it, I’m leasing an electric Hyundai.

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