We Are All Made Of Traffic

We Are All Made Of Traffic

In the vast world that is the Internet I don’t offer much, but I will say unequivocally that I am the world’s number one source for non-drive side Platypus photography:

Not to mention low-slung top tube porn for all those depraved step-thru fetishists:

That paint looks pretty good in the sun, doesn’t it?

Speaking of unhealthy obsessions, the only thing that gets retrogrouches more excited than lugs is two-tone paint and lugs:

Throw in a leather strap and they’re liable to pass out:

Oh sure, they may peruse the “Rivendell Reader” and “Bicycle Quarterly” while in polite company, but every single one of them also has a worn copy of “Lugs n’ Leather” under their mattresses.

As for the photos, I took them while on a leisurely lunchtime spin, during which I stopped at Target so I could justify such frivolity as an errand. Meanwhile, all around me, people sat in traffic like this:

The traffic is so predictably terrible that vendors stand IN THE HIGHWAY to sell things to drivers stuck in endless traffic. Why is any leader still fighting for more cars and highways instead of more biking and public transit? pic.twitter.com/jLnWBnlk0G

— Danny Harris (@DannyHarris_TA) September 29, 2021

Danny Harris is the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. The photo is clearly taken while sitting in traffic in the Willis Avenue Bridge (which, incidentally, has the only decent bike lane of all the Harlem River crossings), and it seemed odd to me that he’d take to Twitter in order to complain about the traffic he is, at least at that moment, helping to cause. But it also occurred to me that maybe it’s not his photo at all. So I asked him about it, though he hasn’t replied. This is in no way me trying to imply he’s being evasive; if anything, he probably just has me muted, which I think most people do at this point if they haven’t stopped following me altogether by now.

So why do I care whether or not the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives is driving around and complaining about the traffic? Well, as I’ve said before, I believe it’s helpful to be honest about how we get around and why. Where was he going and how did the bike lane network and/or public transit system fail him? I certainly know I’ve sat seething in traffic and thought, “If only there were a train that went this way I wouldn’t have to deal with this crap.” At the same time, even the most passionate transit advocate would have to agree that trains can’t go everywhere. It’s fair to point out that more bike lanes, faster buses, and that sort of thing mean more opportunities to leave the car at home or not buy one in the first place. But it’s also fair to ask: Just how far is it reasonable to expect the city to go in order to save you from yourself?

When you’re sitting in traffic, it’s easy to think your trip is important and everyone else’s is not. You need to drive because of extenuating circumstances, or lack of adequate transit, but the person in front of you is just being selfish. Moreover, all of us who opine on how other people get around are liable to fall into the trap of dictating who should be able to go where and how, and to pass judgement on everyone else’s comings and goings:

In today’s modern world, what with all our fancy pocket telephones and connected abacuses and stuff, travel of any kind is arguably less necessary than ever, which leaves lots of room for people to put themselves forth as the arbiters of it. I suppose I’ve always been a little wary of that, because for me, the bicycle’s greatest attribute isn’t that it’s an alternative to the car; rather, of all vehicles, it’s the one least subject to arbitration. No matter where you live or what everyone else is doing, nobody’s stopping you from hopping on a bike.

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