Friday, February 15, 2008

Bike Rant #712

Riding a bike in NYC is the greatest thing ever!

Really? The greatest thing ever? How do I know this? Have I tried all things? Yes. I have done every single thing doable, and here is why I say that riding a bike in NYC is the greatest of them all...

First of all, I'm not a morning person. Not since I was a toddler anyway. Nowadays, I'm more inclined toward that whole nocturnal, never-see-the-sun vampire lifestyle. Daytime's for chumps. And now, with the internet, you don't even need daytime to do things like buy furniture. So if I had my druthers, I'd eschew daytime entirely. But, druthers have I not. So I wake up each weekday feeling like absolute crap, not wanting to get out of bed for any reason, but since I now have a, um--whaddaya call it?--a job, I do eventually drag my carcass out of bed and listlessly zombie my way through my morning routine, get out the door and there's my bicycle.

I hop on and go sailing headlong into the utter madness of 9th Avenue rush-hour traffic just north of 42nd st. and the Lincoln Tunnel, weaving in and out of taxicabs, buses, trucks, pedestrians, clueless Jersey-plated car-commuters, delivery guys wheeling cases of soda on hand-trucks, garbage men, traffic cops, dog-walkers and the occasional baby-stroller, all at full-on break-neck speed. Really wakes you up! Or gets you hospitalized/killed. Only two options, really. You either emerge from your morning fog and survive the ride feeling exhilarated, a gigantic marauding beast, or you get squished like a grape.

I tend to choose marauding beast over grape-squish. Thus, I arrive at my place of employ feeling like I own the joint. (Though, within moments it becomes painfully obvious that I don't own the joint, for if I did, it wouldn't look so dreary and oppressive in here, and you might actually be able to get a smile out of somebody once in a while.) Still, it's a great feeling, requires no cocaine, and feeling this way SAVES me money holy shit.

And even though I keep increasing my ability to slip through any and all traffic conditions like a greased mongoose with lightning shooting out its ass, (I can get to work without coming to a single full stop almost every time) it's still painfully obvious that we gotta ban the cars.

Just fucking ban them. I'm not talking about mere congestion pricing (though that's a good first step). I'm also not talking about a ban on only the higher tail-pipe-emissions vehicles (though that is also a good intermediate step). I'm talking about NO FUCKING PRIVATE PASSENGER CARS ALLOWED IN MANHATTAN AT ALL.

They just don't make sense anymore. Not that they ever necessarily did, but these days? Impossible. Try driving a car (or taking a cab) from 10th ave. to 1st ave. at 5pm tonight. You'll be able to see pedestrians making better time than you. And not just the athletic ones. Elderly bag-ladies will be outpacing you in your 4000 pound SUV.

And the sickest thing of all is, even nowadays, we still encourage car-idiocy and look down our noses at cyclists. I mean, who rides a bike around town no matter what the weather? The little immigrant delivery guy bringing greasy take-out to the hungry high-rise dweller. We're glad he exists, but we don't hold him in very high regard. But why not? He's inexpensive, reliable, super-efficient and doesn't pollute at all. He's a model-fucking-citizen! Though, maybe not a U.S. citizen, technically.

By contrast, society holds the car-owner in high esteem. Oooh... look at your Brand New Car! Look at how much money you were able to spend on it! Why, I bet it's got leather seats! And they said the middle class was getting squeezed out of existence! Not so! For look at you and your glorious bourgeois vehicle! You affirm all that is great about this land, even as you run roughshod over it, laying waste to the environment as you go. You Magnificent American Bastard!

Someday, perhaps someday soon, people will be embarrassed to be seen driving a car, at least in an urban area. Passenger cars should be stigmatized so severely that only the very biggest assholes would ever dare drive into town, and when they do, they will be rightfully vilified. Pariahs! Driving a car in Manhattan will be like walking into the middle of the children's section of the library during story-time, dropping your pants, waving your prick around, taking a shit on the carpet, grabbing the book away from the story-time lady and wiping your ass with it, and then attempting to run out of there with your pants still down around your ankles so you have to take those ridiculous shuffling baby-steps. Someday, that is how we will view automobile drivers. How dare you bring that... that... disgusting... CAR into our neighborhood! The only socially acceptable motor vehicles will be: taxi cabs, emergency response vehicles of all types, delivery vehicles, passenger buses, physical-assistance vehicles, and maybe (maybe) a cop car or two. (More cops should be on bicycles.) All of those vehicles will be 100% electric and will get their electricity from wind and solar.

And when that day arrives, every single one of us will get where we're going faster, not just crazy dare-devil cycle guys like me.

And can you imagine NYC with sweet-smelling clean air? I'm getting high just thinking about it!

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