Give your brain a break and just get a bike.

Have you ever noticed that as you get nearer to any major university, or anywhere that progressives tend to gather in numbers, you see more and more wheeled contraptions like the one pictured above? It’s not that I have anything against bicycles mind you. I used to commute on one regularly when I lived in the city and they can be a fine alternative in getting to and from places when faced with the traffic grid lock present in most of our urban cores. For some reason however, these pedal powered monuments to Rube Goldberg annoy me to no end as the products of minds combining the worst aspects of ADHD and an obsessive mechanical engineering bent.

A few years ago an acquaintance of mine purchased one of these for an ungodly amount of money as his new daily driver. Three wheels, slung low to the pavement, with an enormous plexiglass bubble windshield rising in front of the handle bars, you rode it laying flat on your back with the pedals out front. I was skeptical of its utility as a commuting rig in Seattle with its notoriously shitty drivers, but running low on smokes I convinced him to let me take it for a spin down to the 7-11 for a fresh pack and a test drive. The first thing I noticed in attempting to mount the vehicle was that you didn’t mount it so much as you flung yourself into it, and once in it I was consumed with the thought of how I was going to get out of it without the mildly embarrassing spectacle of flopping myself out onto the blacktop belly first and then struggling to my feet. No matter. I fell into the seat without too much effort and took off. Hoping inspiration for a more graceful exit would come to me on the ride.

The second thing I noticed while piloting this thing was that due to its low aerodynamic profile, I was rendered invisible to the aforementioned shitty drivers of the cars I was sharing the road with. There was a long fiber-glass rod with an orange flag on top attached to the frame that was supposed to warn these drivers of my position in relation to the underside of their vehicles but this is just not the sort of thing that Seattle drivers, who are known for their ability to cross four lanes of rush hour traffic fifty feet from their exit simply by blindly turning the wheel and hoping for the best, are capable of deducing as every vehicle I approached would lock its brakes up while the driver leaned on the horn and shout obscenities down at me. By the time I had returned to the house I had consumed about half of my new pack of Camels in the attempt to soothe nerves jangled by numerous near wrecks.

Disappointingly, the hoped for graceful dismount had not materialized on the trip and as I rolled out onto my hands and knees, I told my acquaintance that this thing was the most useless device for transportation that I had ever encountered. He became visibly upset and began a long diatribe on the superiority of the recumbent bicycle over its more traditional counterpart.  As I wearily listened to his verbal powerpoint presentation on aerodynamics, improved power train gear ratios, and increased cardiovascular efficiency while in a reclining position, it suddenly dawned on me why these things are so popular in liberal enclaves. They are the perfect metaphor for the progressive mind set. They are generally ridden by people obsessed with reinventing that which already works perfectly fine. They are easy to get into and exceedingly difficult to remove yourself from without looking like an idiot. They are more expensive, more engineered, and theoretically more efficient, at least on paper, than a traditional bicycle and therefore the rider is, as they will inform you ad nauseum, inherently superior to those on “lesser” machines. While the rider pedals nonchalantly through traffic confident in his theoretical brilliance, he pisses off everyone else on the road who would rather he just ride upright where they can see him so as to avoid an accident.

If you want a cardiovascular workout while laying down, I have a couple of suggestions that I probably shouldn’t mention here. In the mean time, keep your couch off of my road and I’ll keep my car out of your bed room.

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16 responses to “Give your brain a break and just get a bike.

  1. Those things are ridiculous. But remember: It is ALWAYS the driver’s fault.

  2. Not always Andy.

    But usually.

    And for what it’s worth the recumbent bikes are a necessity for folks with bad backs but still like riding. That said anyone who rides one (as with any bicycle) and isn’t lit up like a Christmas tree is not being neighborly and probably harbors a death wish.

    This is my bike.

    http://www.orbea.com/ca-us/bicis/modelos/lobular_tlt_ct/

    “My road”? We think not. For what it’s worth you should spend a day as a pedestrian in Seattle and get a sense at what poses the greater risk to life and limb. Many bicyclists behave badly. Some pedestrians as well. Far too many automobile drivers do and they cause a lot more damage.

  3. Indeed. I do quite a lot of all three, and I am not about to call any one of the bunch (drivers, bikers, walkers) less guilty of generating danger than the other. The one thing they all have in common is a remarkable ability to blame the other guy. Sorry, two things: An alarming disregard for all the little lines that are painted on the road.

    Motorcyclists, however, are the biggest disasters moving out there.

  4. My problem with motorcycles is the noise. When we lived on Alki it could be horrific when the Harley folks headed to the Alki Tavern for Thursday Taco night. The I lived near Seneca street on 1st Avenue so I could hear them heading down the ramp on their way from Alki to the Central in P. Square. Now I’m in P. Square and they seem a little fewer in number. As the average age of Harley owners must be nearing 70 I doubt they get out as much.

  5. I sometimes get caught in my car, leaving West Seattle for work downtown (a block south of King Street, Mr. P. Square) just as the hordes of Harleys and Crotch-rockets get off the ferry in the morning. It’s madness. Dozens of them just swarming around, a good 5-10 mph faster than the cars, and no real way to predict their movement around you.

    It’s one of those “why don’t they just plant a couple of cops on Fauntleroy in the morning” situations.

  6. Just goofing around on this post Arthur. I have no ill will against them other than that they look kind of silly. I agree that the Harley’s on 1st and on Alki can be pretty obnoxious. The open road is the place for those things. Most of the riders look to be downtown accountants and attorney’s with an over active fantasy life.

  7. I notice there is a statistical relationship between how much noise a community makes about “going green” and my experience there if I journey on a bicycle. Generally, your “green” locales expect you to be driving a car (SF and Davis are exceptions to this).

    No shoulder on the road for you, and you have to lock your bike to a “handicapped parking” sign — or not at all.

    At least this contraption you wouldn’t have to lock, Mark.

  8. Portland is excellent. Actually Seattle is fairly bike friendly and getting more so all the time.

    And boy does that piss a lot of people off. The constitutional rights to cheap gas, free parking and unfettered motoring are ingrained in the American psyche.

    “They can pry the car keys out of my cold fingers when I’m dead…”

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  10. I make it a point to accelerate and brushback any cyclist who isn’t well to the left in the bike lane. Keeps them honest.

    Recumbent cyclists I brake for and back up over whenever possible. It’s easier to clean the undercarriage and you don’t get any spandex in your grill.

  11. Is that Gerard poking his head up out of the Rightnetwork boiler room?

    Spandex in your grill? Sounds like one of those Penthouse Forum stories that starts with “I never would have believed that something like this could happen to me…”

  12. The spandex in the grill moment at Penthouse happened only once. That was when the gay section of the art department went out to lunch with those rappers from East Harlem.

  13. I am getting a big rear view mirror, staying in my basement on my e-z-boy recliner bike, and making sure I never wear spandex. I will be very very safe, that way.

  14. I don’t mostly mind sharing the road with bikes, and we have a lot of bike lanes on the roads around Encinitas and North County – what does piss me off is when two bikes decide they have to ride side by side, which puts one of them into MY lane and forces me out of MY lane to avoid them.
    My other cosmic gripe is why the fuck every tandem in the world has the big guy in front and his lady in back where all she can see is his sweaty butt crack? If Judy and I ever get a tandem (heaven forbid) she will drive and I will be the “stoker”, in back. where I’m supposed to be. (Then I get to look at her buttcrack which is infinitely lovelier than mine.)

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