Friday, 18 March 2011

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

In recent months, the "media" has paid much attention to the so-called "backlash" against bicycle lanes in New York City, as well as the concomitant "crackdown" on scofflaw cyclists--which seems to now be largely focussed on Central Park, where police continue to ticket cyclists who run red lights during car-free hours, which in turn prompts investment bankers-slash-lower-category club racers to decry how "the system" is keeping them down by not letting them engage in "interval training

Besides Central Park, the other venue that has been a locus of controversy has been the Prospect Park West bike lane in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Recently, a nefarious cadre of nebbishes has gone so far as to file suit against the city for installing the bike lane, despite the fact that it is popular, has made the street demonstrably safer, and causes no additional congestion.

I've long marveled at the fact that some Park Slope residents are complaining about the bike lane--not because I ride a bicycle and like to use the lane, but because their audacity in bemoaning something that is actually designed to keep more people alive is a good part of the reason that Park Slope has become synonymous with "douchery" throughout New York City. (Arguably, Park Slope and Williamsburg are the Twin Cities of Douche in Brooklyn, though each has its own uniquely douchey character.)

Astonishingly, the Park Slope bike lane opponents feel that the bike lane is unsafe, which leads me to wonder if they have any idea what it's actually like to cross a street on the other side of the park. Here's what it's like to cross Coney Island Avenue on Cortelyou Road (a popular neighborhood shopping street), and because few things are more boring than watching traffic I will itemize the "highlights" below:

0:09: Light for Coney Island Avenue Traffic turns green;

0:45: Pedestrian with apparent death wish begins jaywalking across Coney Island Avenue;

1:08: I finally get the "walk" signal;

1:15: "Walk" signal flashes red after a mere seven seconds (I am not even halfway across the street);

1:30: "Walk" signal goes to solid red after giving me just enough time to cross the street, by which time you have fallen sound asleep after watching the most boring "edit" of all time.

Nevertheless, despite the highly soporific nature of this film, I think there are a few interesting conclusions to be drawn:

Firstly, out of that entire minute and a half, there were only seven seconds during which I, as a pedestrian, had (theoretically, anyway) the right of way, in which time I only got as far as the middle of the street--and that's without a child in tow, or packages, or the creakiness and arthritis that comes with old age.

Secondly, in that seven second "safety window," three cars ran the light. First came these two:

And then came a third in sort of a "SAG wagon of death" capacity, almost hitting the admittedly stupid pedestrian:

In other words, whether you're a kid on the way to school, or an old person on the way to the pharmacy, or an intolerably smug bike blogger, you've got seven seconds to cross the street, during which time you've still got a pretty good chance of getting nailed by a car.

You almost can't blame the pedestrian for trying to get a head start.

Now, here's my return trip, and the video is mercifully shorter, beginning just as the light for Coney Island Avenue traffic goes from yellow to red:

0:00: Light goes from yellow to red;

0:02: First car runs the light, I get the "walk" signal;

0:04: Second car runs the light;

0:10: "Walk" signal starts flashing;

0:33: You are asleep again.

This time I guess things were a little better, since only two cars ran the light--though one, the BMW, ran it a full four seconds after it turned red:

Still, that's not very good odds if you're trying to cross, and it's not like I sat there waiting for cars to run the light. I just crossed once and crossed again, and as someone who crosses this intersection regularly I can assure you that this amount of light-running is typical.

However, if you ask the people in Park Slope or read the newspaper, you'd think that bicycles are the problem--though I can assure you that, as a pedestrain, the one I did encounter was the least of my concerns:

So I'll tell you what, Park Slopers: I'll trade you the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Cortelyou Road for your Prospect Park West bike lane and sundry amenities. I'll take the added safety and convenience, and you can hustle your old bones across the street in seven fucking seconds:

Good luck, Grandma.

In any case, having gotten the smugness out of my system, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer in seven fucking seconds. If you're right then maybe you won't get hit by a car, and if you're wrong you'll see touring gone awry.

As always, thanks for reading, ride safe, and ride smugly in the Prospect Park West bike lane.


(Fredgasm! A bargain at roughly $8,000 for the frame "module" alone.)

1) Specialized recently held a "top-secret" launch for a new bicycle it calls the:

2) This person is:

3) Shoddy rowboat conversions are the new shoddy fixie conversion.

4) Why is this Langster special?

***Special Coney Island-Themed Euphemism Bonus Question***

(So does the whitefish go over the driftwood?)

Having "Coney Island Driftwood" is a euphemism for swimming with an erection.



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