Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Velo Transgressions

I saw this bicycle yesterday, chained to the railing of a restaurant in Harvard Square directly under a series of neon "No Bikes Please" signs.

The restaurant responded by taping this note to the saddle:
"This, actually, is a bike, of which yon sign speaks.
(Please don't park here this weekend)".
Plenty of businesses would have (gleefully) had the lock cut and disposed of the bicycle, but this restaurant was nice enough not to. I wonder what was going through the bike owner's mind when locking their green-tired pride and joy directly under a "No Bikes" sign. It seems like the kind of intentionally transgressive act that gives cyclists in Boston a bad reputation.

This made me think of an incident a couple of weeks ago, when I wanted to go into a place of business, but the bike racks outside were full. I peeked inside with my bike and asked whether I could leave it in the lobby since there was nowhere to park it outdoors. The person I addressed was immediately filled with rage, and said something to the effect of "Don't even think of coming in here with that! You people think you can do anything you want with those bikes!" In the area where I live, I have noticed that bikes are often associated with transgressive behaviour. Some cyclists encourage this; then other cyclists reap the consequences.

17 comments:

  1. Was there any "approved" place to park the bike? As for the other place, a filled rack should have told them they were losing out on business via inadequate capacity. Bikes are a lot easier to cater to than cars - space requirements are small.

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  2. The sign does say "please" That is an improvement over most that just curtly say "No Bikes"

    BTW we have a few of the no bike signs on places I frequent...no bike racks either :-(

    Aaron

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  3. "Some cyclists encourage this; then other cyclists reap the consequences."

    This is so true (and so frustrating). I suppose all we can do is try our best to present an alternative to the hard-core, scofflaw cyclist image.

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  4. "Don't even think of coming in here with that! You people think you can do anything you want with those bikes!"

    Yeesh. I hope you at least gave him/her your best dumbfounded look. Did you spend any money there?

    -dukiebiddle

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  5. Yes, there were other places to park outside the restaurant. Usually that railing is a very popular place for people to lock their bikes to, but they put the "No Bikes Please" sign up for the weekend because of an event.

    Without going into too much detail, I had no choice but to spend money at that place of business, so I went to park my bike around the block and came back in. I understand that some places have a "no bikes inside" rule, and that's fine. What threw me, was that the man had such a strong and negative pre-conceived notion of cyclists. He acted as if he expected me to try to get the bike past him anyway, perhaps shouting profanities and declaring the superiority of bikes while I was at it.

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  6. As for the explosive guy's reaction. Some of it may be because of past experience with cyclists, but can't take all the blame. Motorists(ie. most people) have a negative impression of cyclists because they aren't one. Tom Vanderbilt in his book Traffic talks about how a motorist will have a strong reaction when seeing a cyclist break traffic laws, but will tend to make excuses for a motorist doing the same thing. They relate to the driver and are more willing to give them a pass(Unless they cut them off). Solution? Change people's perception of cyclists, by getting them on bikes. Then they'll start seeing all those scofflaws in cars.

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  7. "He acted as if he expected me to try to get the bike past him anyway, perhaps shouting profanities and declaring the superiority of bikes while I was at it."

    Ha, I can just see you and Pashley ripping through the store in a violent frenzy :)

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  8. I love the tone of the note: triple bonus points for using the word "yon!"

    After being temporarily dependent on handrails, I am resolved never to use them as bike locking. Although if that's the railing I think it is, it's not a handrail, just a guardrail.

    It's unfortunate that the people who believe that rules apply only to others cause such an image problem for others. Victimless crime isn't quite as benign as people think it is.

    On an unrelated note, were you bicycling down Brattle last night around 8pm? I saw someone in a wonderful shawl/ scarf and lovely bike.

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  9. I liked the use of "yon" very much as well. Good point about handrails, that aspect had not occurred to me.

    Sadly, I can't take credit for being the girl with the wonderful shawl on Brattle Street last night. I was home making macaroni : )

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  10. "Yon" I'm so totally rolling my eyes at smarty pants Harvard Square restaurants. Where *I* live, our passive aggressive notes are phonetically written grunts,guttural noises and primitively sketched angry Mr. Yuck faces. We keeps it real.

    -dukiebiddle

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  11. May be he/she is illiterate!? Could be or couldn't? :-P

    (cyclemaniac)

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  12. OT- did you test ride a velorbis? What was your take on it if you did? I wasn't actually high on crack, there was *one* velorbis in the house in a size 51. Not built up so I couldn't test ride but I could get the chance to. wondering what your thoughts were since you've riden so many and did so much research in your search of the Ultimate Lovely Bike ( ULB) so I highly respect your thoughts and knowledge.

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  13. Vee - When I was there, they only had a red ladies' Danneborg assembled. It was pretty, but I was only beginning to understand bicycles then and do not have a useful memory of how it handled. I have also seen a Scrap Deluxe "in the wild", but have not ridden it. Sorry!

    Back when I was choosing, Velorbis struck me as being imitative of Pashley's geometry, but not as well built. There are some comments on bike forums from Velorbis owners that complain about its construction quality and confirm this impression, which is what scared me off. Additionally, the chaincase is not fully enclosed (it is front only, and chopped off at the back end), which I did not like.

    Velorbis is a very new company, and I feel that its bicycles have not stood the test of time yet. I know exactly what a Pashley or a Gazelle will look like in 20 years, because 20-year old Pashleys and Gazelles exist and they are still being made using the same methods. But what will a Velorbis look like in 20 years, or even in 5 years? Judging by this picture (click on the photo to enlarge and see the details) of a Scrap Deluxe that could not have been more than a year old, I am not sure what to think.

    Feel free to drop me a line if you want to discuss the bike choice issue in more detail; my email is on the side as a jpeg because I am super-weary of spam.

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  14. The note they left on the bike is so cute. It made me smile.

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  15. You've got to submit these photos to passiveaggressivenotes.com Hilarious.

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  16. More years ago than I care to admit, I worked as a bike messenger in Manhattan. I'll admit to having committed many bike transgressions, not the worst of which was locking my bike to railings and other objects on private property. And I found that people's negative attitudes about bikes and cyclists followed me even when I was riding as a "civilian."

    Anyway...I am older and presumably wiser. Surprisingly, even here in New York, a fair number of store or restaurant owners will let me bring my bike inside, and they'll put it in an alcove or some other out-of-the-way spot if I ask them nicely--even when I'm grungy from a long, aggressive ride on my road bike.

    Moral of story: When aggression fails, courtesy prevails. Or something like that.

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