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Uneasy Rider: Bicycling in Las Vegas
January 30, 2014 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Jan-Keno Janssen decides to rent a bicycle to get around Las Vegas; this is what happens
posted by JeffL (77 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those of us sensible enough to use a bike for regular transportation probably downright refuse to ever travel to Las Vegas in the first place.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:15 PM on January 30 [20 favorites]


Did he have any idea of what happened at the end of "Easy Rider"?
posted by HuronBob at 8:24 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


I don't really get it. Vegas has lots of problems, but it's actually somewhat bikeable -- there are few freeways and the arterials have huge shoulders that are perfect for biking. There are certainly a lot of road cyclists in the winter getting exercise, although I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone there biking for pure transportation.

The Strip during CES is completely different though. During that time it probably has a higher population density than Manhattan. Getting around is going to suck no matter what method you choose. Fortunately you can walk from end to end with only one or two at-grade crossings (there are bridges over almost every intersection). So in a way it's less car-centric than most places in America.
posted by miyabo at 8:26 PM on January 30


Where are the photos? There's a section labeled "photo captions" but no indication where they are.

(Aside: I note that this is an MSDN blog, which seems to indicate that MSDN's notion of a "blog" is as weird and insular as everything else they do; like what they thought the Internet was in the early 90s, to the extent that they admitted there was such a thing)
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:32 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Photos are in the original (German) article, linked to in the blog post.
posted by JeffL at 8:37 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Thanks, JeffL.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:40 PM on January 30


I don't know. He's rather dismissive and acts like all Americans do not rent bicycles on vacation. That's simply not true. Its just that people visiting Vegas usually aren't there to go far and usually convention people aren't jumping on bikes in their suits. Its not like in the summer months casino goers are gonna be riding around on bikes all day long in the scorching heat. There isn't a market for rental bikes in Vegas. No surprise there.

Basically the guy seems like a pompous jerk.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:49 PM on January 30 [14 favorites]


Basically the guy seems like a pompous jerk

Those are the words I was searching for...thanks!
posted by HuronBob at 8:56 PM on January 30


This is awesome, good for him. I only saw one cyclist in Vegas, and he was some sort of derranged looking protester with flags and a boom box.
posted by Joe Chip at 9:12 PM on January 30


I hate Vegas as much any intelligent American but seriously fuck this asshole and (in my best New Yawk accent) 'he should go back where he came from'!
posted by ReeMonster at 9:12 PM on January 30


Cable lock; must be a real nobody bikes zone or the thing would be gone in five minutes in most 'bike friendly' cities.
posted by buzzman at 9:19 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


You guys honestly think this article rates as pompous compared to virtually any article written by any American tourist ever if it was translated into the language spoken where the American was visiting? You do realize you're reinforcing yet another American stereotype, I hope.
posted by lastobelus at 9:21 PM on January 30 [27 favorites]


compared to virtually any article written by any American tourist ever if it was translated into the language spoken where the American was visiting?

citation needed...

But, let's not assume we wouldn't have said the same about that article you reference...
posted by HuronBob at 9:33 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Except it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk, which seems to be what he's doing much of the time. It's discourteous to pedestrians and unsafe for people who can't move quickly out of the way. He doesn't seem to have encountered many walkers, so I can let thaat go, though. Just...please don't ride on the sidewalk unless you're going to pay attention.

(I'm a pedestrian and I haaaaate bikers and skaters, in part because I can't hear them behind me and it's always a shock. Get off the damn sidewalk, you're a vehicle.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:41 PM on January 30 [11 favorites]


I have definitely ridden a bike around Vegas, near the Strip, and it was fine. If I needed to be near a casino / hotel, I just rode around back and locked it in the parking structure, even leaving it there overnight a couple times. It involved long walks to the front of the block but it was no big hassle.
posted by thedaniel at 9:42 PM on January 30


You guys honestly think this article rates as pompous compared to virtually any article written by any American tourist ever if it was translated into the language spoken where the American was visiting? You do realize you're reinforcing yet another American stereotype, I hope.

I read the article in German. The author's a pompus ass in that language too.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:49 PM on January 30 [17 favorites]


lastobelus: "You guys honestly think this article rates as pompous compared to virtually any article written by any American tourist ever if it was translated into the language spoken where the American was visiting? You do realize you're reinforcing yet another American stereotype, I hope."

Citation, please.

Seriously, I've never read a review by an American tourist who visits a place they flatly look down upon - perhaps they misunderstand it, or fetishize it, but it's not simple uncomplicated disapproval and disdain. Europeans don't do this, generally, either - it feels somehow colonialist to them, I think, to visit a place and simply talk about how bad it was. The only time it's socially acceptable to write an article about how awful a place that you visited was is when the place you visited was the United States. And the kicker is that most Americans will agree with you.
posted by koeselitz at 9:53 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


Any article written by any American tourist EVER? SUPER SAIYAN HYPERBOLE
posted by Brocktoon at 9:54 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


I ride penny farthings flanked by two rows of hookers when I'm in Vegas.

At home it's just a hybrid.
posted by planetesimal at 9:56 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


I don't know why people are so offended; the first guy he asks is so weirded out by the suggestion that he actually seems to think that a mobility scooter is a reasonable thing to offer by comparison. And it goes on from there. I'd suggest some thicker hides: to anyone from a culture that even recognizes the existence of bicycles -- including an awful lot of American cities -- this is majorly wack and quite worthy of a funny article.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:21 PM on January 30 [28 favorites]


You do realize you're reinforcing yet another American stereotype, I hope.

As a foreigner who has lived in the US for a couple decades, any foreigner who extrapolates the entirety of the American experience from a visit to Las Vegas is probably in for a real culture shock if they ever visit the real America that exists anywhere and everywhere outside of the simulacrum that is Las Vegas. This piece reads like a tourist coming away from a visit to Disney World and thinking America is white, rich and clean.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


Also, the way this fellow plans a trip is inane.

He claims he "sent a few messages" to a number of the myriad bike rental places in Las Vegas, all of which told him renting a bike for transportation is insane. He was "also offered" an "expensive mountain bike" by these vendors; I presume this is his oblique confession that (as a very quick google confirms) there are in fact many stores that rent cheap transportation bikes by the week. But apparently, having sent these messages, he was so put off by their tone that he flatly refused to look into the issue further or discuss it with anyone until he got to the concierge desk at his hotel, where some hapless concierge had to try to find a bike rental place for him. And, just like someone who gets angry when he shows up at a car rental place and they're out of economy sedans for rent on that particular day, he is appalled that the very first place he went to, without any planning or forethought whatsoever, just happened only to have $1250 bikes to rent (albeit for a pretty reasonable rate, I think.)

Some travel advice: if you would like a particular form of transportation, check into it ahead of time. If you happen to be messaging rental places, perhaps ask if you need to reserve a bike, and select a place you'd like to rent from before you show up at your hotel. If you fail to do this, perhaps you might avail yourself of what I'm sure was a completely free Internet connection and look one up yourself that you like; if they're like the first google result for "bike rental Las Vegas," they may even list rental prices for you on their website. It doesn't make much sense to saunter up to a counter and demand that you be served, judging a whole nation to be morally bankrupt if the clerk fails to satisfy your every whim.

Lastly - if you end up being treated well, against your expectations; if a bicycle is rented to you at a reasonable price; if your hotel is quite happy to let you keep your bike indoors in your room and to bring it around in the elevators, and even has elevators large enough to make this easy; and if, in the end, everything goes smoothly, and you have a trip that works out great - maybe don't write a long article excoriating your perception of "fear-mongering," only to confess in the captions to your pictures that it wasn't all bad.

Oh, and as others have noted, this guy is a terrible and unsafe bicyclist. He's riding on sidewalks? I've been in Europe. You're not supposed to do that there, either. And this part made me laugh out loud:

"Not allowed is riding down the extremely long hallways. Purely theoretically speaking, one could save a lot of time by doing so."

You're saying you rode down freaking hotel hallways? Brilliant.
posted by koeselitz at 10:26 PM on January 30 [13 favorites]


Oh, and I think I speak for all Americans when I say that taking a jet-pack to get a loaf of bread would be completely awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 10:38 PM on January 30 [13 favorites]


he has "keno" in his name and there are no keno jokes yet? what's the matter with you people? it's just a numbers game. he takes a new chance every five minutes. george-blackjack janssen was unavailable for comment by presstime.
posted by bruce at 10:50 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Sounds like the trouble I had in Germany trying to rent a simple Cadillac, get a few crates of Miller Lite and a plate of biscuits and gravy. Also I asked for a dry martini and they gave me three of them.
posted by w0mbat at 10:57 PM on January 30 [29 favorites]


As a foreigner who has lived in the US for a couple decades, any foreigner who extrapolates the entirety of the American experience from a visit to Las Vegas is probably in for a real culture shock if they ever visit the real America that exists anywhere and everywhere outside of the simulacrum that is Las Vegas. This piece reads like a tourist coming away from a visit to Disney World and thinking America is white, rich and clean.

First off, it's simulacrum all the way down anymore.

Second, foreigners, please know that Las Vegas is in fact the single most American place I have ever been. The difference is actually that you won't find all aspects of America so supremely concentrated in most other parts.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:59 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


It's the Sphinx, the Pantheon, and the Eiffel Tower that really highlight it's concentrated American flavor.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:19 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Indeed.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:21 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


I dunno what to think.

Random thoughts: As a Canadian in a one car family, I ride my bike to work and on errands sometimes. Sometimes I take my car. I have rented bikes in American cities and ridden them to no ill effect. I have rented cars. People treated me nicely regardless. While I have little desire to go to Las Vegas and would probably head for the desert to hike and get away from horrible people soon after arriving, I nevertheless would like to see it. I would not rent a cheap bicycle there, expecting to lock it up.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:26 PM on January 30


First of all, this guy is a journalist so the story is going to be as good as he can get it, it is even possible that he may have exaggerated some of it. Secondly his experience would be very funny to his target market, so maybe he is playing it for laughs. Thirdly his experience, even if I take everything he says to be a factual account, does not show him to be pompous, a jerk or an asshole in my opinion. It all sounds very plausible. The outcome was positive in the end, it is easy to cycle in Las Vegas (as long as there is no one on the pavement, which I would imagine is probably the case given my experience with Los Angeles).
posted by asok at 1:11 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: "I read the article in German. The author's a pompus ass in that language too."

If only there were an appropriate German word for pompous ass.
posted by chavenet at 1:18 AM on January 31


of all the bad things you could say about Vegas, this wouldn't rank in the first two hundred pages of bitching about that city (at least not for me). He may be right, but there are plenty of other reasons that city is a pit of awfulness.

Has anyone else ever noticed the 'please don't run over the pedestrians' billboards plastered around the city? not a good sign when you need something like that. not a good sign.
posted by el io at 1:50 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Having ridden a bike in Vegas I can say that I enjoyed riding on Charleston west to the Red Rock Canyon recreational area. Riding in summer or anywhere near Las Vegas Blvd is insane Imho.
posted by ericts at 2:32 AM on January 31


koeselitz: "He's riding on sidewalks? I've been in Europe. You're not supposed to do that there, either."
It's de rigeur in Germany. The irony of you complaining about a German stereotyping the US by talking about "Europe" as a single entity is duly noted.

I read the German article as well. He didn't come off like a pompous arse to me, so probably all you Americans think I'm a pompous arse as well.
posted by brokkr at 2:35 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


I don't get why people are so harsh about this article. It describes something I've encountered a lot - to many Americans, biking for transportation is unthinkable. I'm American and I've had experiences like he describes. More than one person has told me you can't bike in New York City because it's too dangerous. I biked for transportation when attending a conference in Boston, and got horrified reactions from several other people at the conference.

When I first visited Europe (France, Germany, and the Netherlands specifically) I was really struck by the transportation bike culture and how different it is from the US. It's easy to find sturdy bikes that are commuting friendly, with built-in lights and locks, fenders, chain covers so you don't get grease on your nice clothes, etc. It's easy to find bike parking. Drivers are more adaptable and don't try to kill you.

Here it's different. For example: To get my simple American bike set up to make commuting comfortable, I had to spend more on accessories than on the bike itself - lights, fenders, good locks, rack, pannier, Velcro doodad to go around my pants to keep them out of the chain. I bought a different seat, because bikes come with hard uncomfortable seats that assume you're covering your ass with padding. (When I take my bike to the shop for tune ups, the shop guys give me shit about my seat. Not only is it padded, I've adjusted the angle so it feels comfortable instead of the angle it should be for "efficiency".) It's like if you wanted to buy a car, but the only cars on the market were stripped down racing cars and you had to buy and separately install a heater, headlights, passenger seats, a system to raise and lower the windows, windshield wipers, a sound system for music, and a cup holder - and the guys in the shop mock you for having a cup holder. Bike culture in the US is really about exercise and fun for kids, the infrastructure is not about making urban transportation easier.

To someone coming from a transportation bike culture, pointing out these differences isn't particularly pompous. Sure, he could have worked harder to arrange things before his trip or whatever. But the point is that if he wanted something that's already easy in our culture, like a car rental or a restaurant reservation, it would have been super easy and the concierge could have helped him in two seconds. He wouldn't have needed to anticipate every obstacle in advance to meet the nitpicky standards of metafilter. This article is about how different the biking culture is here, and how people treated him like he was crazy for trying something most of his German audience would find as normal as going out to eat.
posted by medusa at 3:08 AM on January 31 [23 favorites]


Not sure of elsewhere in Germany, but in Hamburg, it is only legal to ride on sidewalks. There are even marked bricks to form bicycle lanes.

Yes, this seemed insane from my American sensibility. No, I was not compelled to blog about it.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 4:24 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I didn't read him as pompous. One should at least acknowledge that he was writing for a German audience.

He described two quite common attitudes:

- A prevailing (northern) European view that cycling is almost the only logical solution to travelling short distances in built up metropolitan areas
- A not uncommon view in American cities built around the automobile that cycling is at best only recreational and at worst not_a_valid__means_of_personal_transport.

I think he described pretty accurately how, in infrastructure terms, cycling is not accounted for as a valid means of personal transport. In that sense, for all that Vegas is Vegas, it is not that unique among newer American cities.

The anecdote about mobility scooters is funny. It's a novelty to Europeans that hotels, even mega hotels like then MGM, would keep a fleet of mobility scooters. Much less that they would think to offer them to able bodied customers. I know that's a quirk of Vegas, but it's nearly as ridiculous as a concierge in downtown Frankfurt or Copenhagen suggesting a disabled person in need of a wheelchair hops on a bike to get around. The telling thing is not just that it happened, but that a concierge in a hotel of that size had not encountered the question before.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:42 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I read the German article. I thought he was just trying to be funny. In the captions to the photos it even sounded like he wasn't complaining, but actually praising Las Vegas's surprising cyclability. I think the translation of the article was not ideal. E.g. one of the captions in English says

"However, since there are (almost) no parking facilities, you have to put the bicycle in your room. At least in the MGM Grand it's allowed."

To me that reads like "well thank goodness it's allowed at the MGM Grand."

The German is:

"Da es in Las Vegas allerdings (fast) nirgendwo Abstellmöglichkeiten gibt, muss das Rad mit ins Hotelzimmer. Zumindest im MGM Grand ist das sogar erlaubt."

Which I would translate as:

"But since there is (almost) nowhere to leave your bicycle in Las Vegas, the bicycle has to come along up to your hotel room. In the MGM Grand at least, that's even allowed."

In other words, the German sounds to me as though he is expressing surprise that it is allowed to bring your bike into the Grand ("sogar"), and the "zumindest" ("at least") is modifying the hotel name, i.e. he's saying that he can't speak for other hotels.

That's just one example of many where the tone is subtly changed by the translation, at least to my ears.

And I have definitely been sworn at by German drivers passing me when I rode up onto the footpath (which I did in order to turn into my own damn driveway). One of them yelled, "It's illegal to ride on the footpath". So I guess it is... illegal to ride on the footpath.
posted by lollusc at 4:51 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Secondly his experience would be very funny to his target market, so maybe he is playing it for laughs.

I found it amusing, but probably not in the way he intended.
posted by psoas at 5:00 AM on January 31


Going to CES is the real anachronism here.
posted by srboisvert at 5:19 AM on January 31


It didn't seem at all pompous to me. It played off stereotypical American attitudes to bicycling, and it was full of the smugness of recreational cyclists everywhere. But it was genuinely funny, and if you're going to do the bewildered innocent abroad, hiring a bicycle to get around Las Vegas is a brilliant way to do it.
posted by alloneword at 5:26 AM on January 31


The most interesting thing about the article really is how much it upsets many people here to be confronted with a foreigner's pretty harmless and positive description of one aspect of their culture.

The irony of you complaining about a German stereotyping the US by talking about "Europe" as a single entity is duly noted.

This.

posted by snownoid at 5:53 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


I hate Vegas but I love bikes. The only reason I ever go there is because that's where the big bicycle trade show is held.
posted by Repack Rider at 5:57 AM on January 31


When I was in Vegas I walked everywhere, and definitely saw cyclists -- but only spandex people on zippy bikes and bicycle cops, like the author of this totally non-douchey article about cycling the Strip describes.

This guy was trying to be funny but either the translation was crappy or he just didn't quite nail it. But as said, it's based on some basic observations about the US and even more so Vegas, such as bicycles simply not being considered viable for basic transportation and there being very little supporting infrastructure in most places. The sad thing is that in many ways Vegas would be a perfect place to create a basic bicycling infrastructure -- there are gazillions of people needing to move around within a small geographical area, it's flat, and the roads are so wide that it would be easy to carve out bike lanes and associated infrastructure.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:01 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't understand where all the hate on this is coming from. I guess I'm part of his target audience as described upthread, in that I'm a 'Northern European' who doesn't own a car and cycles most places.

But still, to me it reads like a 'Hey, I went to a different culture and it was culturally different: here's a funny story'. Rather than 'Hey, I went to a different culture and they were all wrong: here's why'.

There are loads of stories people have told me about transport in other countries, vespas swarming the streets in Italy, people parking without the handbrake on in Spain so they can be nudged out the way when someone gets boxed in, the disdainful looks Scandinavians give if you cross an empty street without waiting for a green man, the amount of people squeezed into public transport in Japan, how unreasonably good the Swiss train service is, that crazy taxi ride in [place] etc etc.

I don't see many people getting annoyed by having these differences pointed out. Sure, everyone thinks what they are used to is normal, but no one's saying it's the only right way to do things (though of course, that's a little bit difficult for me to say as an Englishman, since we are the only country that does things properly).
posted by Ned G at 6:02 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


(Hit post too fast.)

There's a particular type of tourist (of all nationalities) who is looking to have exactly this kind of story:

In the stores away from the tourist stomping grounds, you meet the alcoholic and/or mentally ill people who were spit out by the glossy gaming industry. If you talk with the people here, you learn sad stories about the downsides of the American dream and a de facto non-existent social system.

There's something very pleasurable for some people in going to a place and then telling the tale of how they crossed a forbidden line into authenticity that exposes an unhappy hidden truth about a place. Done well you have Sinclair's The Jungle, I suppose, but mostly it's the blowhard in the hostel common room telling you all about how the taxi driver took him to this place and he did this thing and how he really connected with these people and so on. It's not a false story, at all -- but it's totally a product of finding something you are already looking for.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:07 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Looking for something and finding it is pretty good going for a travel article, I reckon. Well, in any case, I (Brit cyclist) enjoyed the piece and didn't find it "pompous", just kind of matter-of-factly amused, which is a very German thing to be.
posted by Drexen at 6:28 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


snownoid: “The most interesting thing about the article really is how much it upsets many people here to be confronted with a foreigner's pretty harmless and positive description of one aspect of their culture.”

"Positive"?
posted by koeselitz at 6:28 AM on January 31


Honestly, it's just tiresome. All anybody ever talks about anymore is how much they abhor and disdain the US. Seriously, it is the only thing people talk about. This guy hits all the bases – no bikes, most Americans are really "alcoholics and mentally ill," no "social system," etc. After a while, why try?
posted by koeselitz at 6:31 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


brokkr: “It's de rigeur in Germany. The irony of you complaining about a German stereotyping the US by talking about ‘Europe’ as a single entity is duly noted.”

It is a single entity in many ways. Traffic standards, for one.

“I read the German article as well. He didn't come off like a pompous arse to me, so probably all you Americans think I'm a pompous arse as well.”

What the hell do you care what a bunch of idiot Americans think of you? We're all mentally ill alcoholics, after all, with no social system.
posted by koeselitz at 6:34 AM on January 31


Sounds like the trouble I had in Germany trying to rent a simple Cadillac, get a few crates of Miller Lite and a plate of biscuits and gravy. Also I asked for a dry martini and they gave me three of them.

Heh...I often try to buy "very" tickets when in France thanks to high school Spanish.
posted by malocchio at 6:48 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


How dare this German funboy impugn the honor of Las Vegas, our fairest metropolis, and worse yet, ride a bike while doing it!

Seriously, guys?
posted by entropicamericana at 6:53 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


It is a single entity in many ways. Traffic standards, for one.

Yeah, uh, that whole link outlines some basic traffic standards while outlining a whole lot of other ways in which traffic standards are not common to all European countries.

The Vienna Convention it references is a UN one, not a specifically European one.

Lots of us, ahem, European cyclists would be over the moon if we had Dutch or Danish regulation around cycling.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:54 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


It is a single entity in many ways. Traffic standards, for one.

Are there common standards? My '64 Mercedes 220sb had a headlight switch more complicated than a moon landing, because there were approximately eleven thousand regional variations on how you were supposed to use your parking lights throughout Europe. Of course, by '67, my wee Citroën had a simpler switch, but only just.
posted by sonascope at 7:00 AM on January 31


MuffinMan: “Yeah, uh, that whole link outlines some basic traffic standards while outlining a whole lot of other ways in which traffic standards are not common to all European countries.”

Yes; my point was that I'm an idiot for being mistaken about whether Europe's traffic standards are unitary or vary from place to place. Presumably I ought to have gone to Germany, broken German traffic laws, and then written an article about how awful it was there. Then I would have been in the right.
posted by koeselitz at 7:07 AM on January 31


Alrighty then.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:12 AM on January 31


It's legal to ride your bike on sidewalks in Vegas except for Fremont between 7th and Main, so I'm not sure where the outrage is coming from. I guess it's because somebody is daring to ride a bicycle instead of driving like a real American?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:15 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Dip Flash - it's totally a product of finding something you are already looking for

koeselitz - All anybody ever talks about anymore is how much they abhor and disdain the US. Seriously, it is the only thing people talk about.

Almost perfect comic timing, nice work guys!
posted by asok at 7:31 AM on January 31


It is a single entity in many ways. Traffic standards, for one.

Let's start with the basics: Europe and the EU are not the same thing.
posted by snownoid at 7:32 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Jeeze, koeselitz(/Ironmouth). If anything the sins of the US is a much less pervasive subject in Europe now than it was when Bush was on the throne and is even a little passé. This was a mild, light-hearted and, yes, fairly positive article (cycling was fine in the end, despite some amusing hitches!) and it's hardly an egregious slander to point to point out that some areas of Vegas paint a depressing picture of how the disadvantaged fare or that cycling is treated differently in the US than in Europe. It's not like this was a leading op-ed in Der Spiegel.

But if it satisfies you to get all prickly about it, then I guess do that! <:)
posted by Drexen at 7:39 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I thought that temporarily baffling the concierge was the funny part. A concierge at a decent hotel strives to be unflappable in responding to a client's odd requests. An article I read ages ago described the guild of concierges presenting strange challenges to prospective apprentices.
posted by ovvl at 7:44 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Yes, there are many places in the US—mostly exurban, sprawl-y places—where riding on the sidewalk is legal and even encouraged. (I have been stopped by a cop for riding in the street and told I must ride on the sidewalk!) In most of these places the sidewalks see substantially no pedestrian use anyway, so there really is no harm in it. It's hardly the same thing as riding on the sidewalk in an older urban area.
posted by enn at 8:26 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


medusa: It describes something I've encountered a lot - to many Americans, biking for transportation is unthinkable. I'm American and I've had experiences like he describes.

Me too! Many times! But observations from random passersby and others doesn't necessarily address how bikeable a city actually is. (I've also had native New Yorkers tell me that it was too unsafe to walk down Broadway in the northern Washington Heights neighborhood in the middle of a Saturday.) The article writer seems to be baffled that the bike renting experience in Vegas isn't exactly like it is in Germany, down to the exact specifications of the bike. (German laws regarding cycling are very specific, including safety equipment specifications, with stiff fines for breaking any of them.) Part of the point, for me, of riding around a new town is to find out how the locals do things, not to use the bike laws and traditions back in Deutschland or Peoria or wherever to perform a Procrustean measurement on the locals and shake my head in disbelief.

Also, if you really paid more for your bike's accessories than you did for the bike, you either got a really good deal on the bike or your local bike shop is ripping you off.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:19 AM on January 31


> Also, if you really paid more for your bike's accessories than you did for the bike, you either got a really good deal on the bike or your local bike shop is ripping you off.

My bike was $600 and had decent standard features, but it is exceedingly easy to spend that much in upgrades/accessories if one went that way without getting ripped off too much.
posted by planetesimal at 9:58 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


HE WASN'T A TOURIST. Why can't people understand that he wasn't there to sight see, he was there for CES and wanted a more efficient way to get around? Those of you have never been to CES: it's a royal pain the ass to get anywhere. Comparing him to a tourist is just silly. Totally different agendas. And he's dead right about cheaper stores off the strip, and Vegas doing its best to keep its drunk and mentally ill homeless away from the bright lights.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:04 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


In most of these places the sidewalks see substantially no pedestrian use anyway, so there really is no harm in it.

Except to the person on the bicycle. Watch out for the intersections, including driveways. Ain't nobody gonna see you there, and it's a really great place to get creamed.
posted by asperity at 10:12 AM on January 31


I checked with a Dutch friend about this article. All he said was "He's German? I'm surprised he didn't steal the bicycle." Then he started ranting about how unlivable Las Vegas is, especially in summer, where you need a air conditioned car to survive traveling between the air conditioned hotels. So, well.
posted by happyroach at 10:36 AM on January 31


I checked with a Dutch friend about this article. All he said was "He's German? I'm surprised he didn't steal the bicycle."

Ik wil mijn fiets terug!
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:38 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


How dare this German funboy impugn the honor of Las Vegas, our fairest metropolis, and worse yet, ride a bike while doing it!

Seriously, guys?


Except he extended the "honor of Las Vegas" to pretty much all Americans, which we don't like for some reason.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:17 PM on January 31


How dare this German funboy impugn the honor of Las Vegas, our fairest metropolis, and worse yet, ride a bike while doing it!

What's amusing is that the writer went to a foreign country and got bent out of shape when its practices were different from what he was used to. Which seems something Europeans complain about when dealing with American tourists.
posted by aught at 12:22 PM on January 31


What the hell do you care what a bunch of idiot Americans think of you? We're all mentally ill alcoholics, after all, with no social system.

You forgot "gun-toting" and "sexually repressed."
posted by aught at 12:24 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Then he started ranting about how unlivable Las Vegas is, especially in summer, where you need a air conditioned car to survive traveling between the air conditioned hotels.

This part is true. Tourists of all nationalities underestimate both the heat and the weird distances between casino properties that look really close to each other on the free tourist maps.
posted by aught at 12:26 PM on January 31


I once walked from Xerox PARC to my hotel in Menlo Park. I was nicely dressed (business casual). It was a very pleasant walk on wide, well-maintained sidewalks in nice sunny weather. But I didn't encounter a single other person the entire time and people passing in cars stared at me as if I was an alien visitor (which in a sense I was). We Americans love our cars and not just in Vegas.
posted by tommasz at 1:23 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


planetesimal, let me go back to medusa's original list: "lights, fenders, good locks, rack, pannier, Velcro doodad to go around my pants to keep them out of the chain", plus a seat. Let's check on Nashbar, and assume a hybrid:

Fenders: $39.99
Lights, front and rear: $39.99
Lock (Kryptonite): $40.95
Rack: $54.99
Panniers: $49.99
Velcro leg bands: $3.99
Seat: $24.99

Less than $255. Some of the above is Nashbar's house brand and you may want to go with something nicer, and yes, it's true that you can kit out almost any vehicle with aftermarket replacements and add-ons that double the price or more (maybe not a pogo stick). But it's not necessary; in fact, I went with the MSRP for some of the above, not the listed sales price, and not necessarily the cheapest option in each category. For that matter, you may not necessarily want pricy name brand accessories, as they may end up removed from your bike while you're elsewhere. I say this as someone who regularly commutes and shops on his bike; if I've spent more than the cost of the bike on accessories and/or parts and maintenance, it's because I've had it for more than a decade and put a lot of hard miles on it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:22 PM on January 31


MSDN's notion of a "blog" is as weird and insular as everything else they do

It's fairly easy to click around and see that MSDN blogs can use different templates, and that Old New Thing is a hacker's blog using a deliberately retro and de-formatted template.

Anyway, I too did not see how this was written as a general observation about American cities, just about Las Vegas. In fact, a number of his criticisms hit home, as I live in a city that has a great bike trail system for its size, and a decent community of both road and trail bikers; but outside of low-wage workers who can't afford cars or people who are legally barred from driving, you don't see people biking on the streets all that much, and very very few businesses have bike racks. Sidewalks? Downtown it's illegal, but outside of downtown you can get yelled at for not being on the sidewalk. There's a lot of very evident hostility toward bikes here. I've had trash or drink cups thrown at me, an air horn blown six inches from my head, and I even got run off the road by a guy in what would be an over-the-top exaggeration of a redneck, Confederate battle flag-flying pickup truck (seriously, two flags). Yes, the anti-bike culture is that bad, even in a place that has some decent bike infrastructure. So envision me as nodding along knowingly with many of his observations.

And I've never been to Vegas, but I know as much of it as many Americans do and it certainly strikes me as a melange of all the elements that conspire against bike infrastructure and bike culture, not to mention all the fat, gambly proles throwing money away for the modest thrill of temporarily not caring about losing it. No, I don't see most visitors being interested in bikes, and I don't even see people who bike at home thinking it would be something to do in Vegas. You might use it in LA or NYC to get out into a funky neighborhood or find interesting shops or restaurants, but that's not the kind of place that Vegas is (whereas Henderson -- now the 2nd largest city in NV and the 83rd largest in the country -- is just the sort of suburban new-growth place where they might have built a lot of it). Note, I've also been to the Wisconsin Dells, which has some of the same entertainment industry and car-oriented problems -- and no bike infrastructure, yet quite a large number of the low-wage workers seem to bike commute despite the hostile environment.

anyway, it would probably behoove the convention and visitor's bureau to work on educating the hotels and casinos about the options. There is a downtown bikeshare begun in 2012, with significant planned expansion through this year, so it won't be quite like this is a completely alien thing requiring people to stare at him like a crazy person.
posted by dhartung at 10:36 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I checked with a Dutch friend about this article. All he said was "He's German? I'm surprised he didn't steal the bicycle."

Ik wil mijn fiets terug!


So yeah, if we could not have this kind of thing, that'd be great.
posted by ambrosen at 9:53 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]


Hovenring: A Bicycle Ramp Roundabout by IPV Delft
posted by homunculus at 4:53 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


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