Bike Messengers now and then
March 26, 2007 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Beautiful and haunting video of Bike Messengers in NYC.
Not so beautiful and haunting video of Bicycle Messengers.*
*Contains Kevin Bacon
posted by Lord_Pall (112 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some thoughts: Multiply this times 1000 and exchange the bicycles with mopeds and you have any big SE Asian city. The NY Bicycle Messengers Union strongarms local attorneys to keep the antiquated practice of obtaining signatures going. The third bicycle messenger in the first link knows Kevin Bacon's cousin's dermatologist's pastor.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:43 AM on March 26, 2007


Watching them cut through pedestrians at that speed against the light makes me impatient to get to the part where the car door goes through their chest.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:45 AM on March 26, 2007


They would need a new soundtrack for that.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2007


Bike messengers can strongarm laywers? That's surprising.
posted by boo_radley at 11:49 AM on March 26, 2007


Fortunately & unfortunately, natural selection still exists.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2007


Watching them cut through pedestrians at that speed against the light makes me impatient to get to the part where the car door goes through their chest.

Currently recuperating a broken kneecap from having been doored by a careless driver, and being a cyclist who generally follows the rules of the road, this comment is really fucking stupid. I wouldn't wish getting doored on anyone, let alone my worst enemy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on March 26, 2007


Bike messengers are hilarious. They spend half their time grousing about how cars don't look out for bikes, and the rest carelessly endangering pedestrians.
posted by SaintCynr at 11:51 AM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seen it, but the link seems to be broken now.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:53 AM on March 26, 2007


For Bike Dancing and Bike Stunts you need Balls of Steel.

Scary Mountain bike accidents ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW88oulJL3c

But always keep your bike clean ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8LC-VZEtEc

Or you simply kill yourself with a bike ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKavKvqPCb0
posted by homodigitalis at 11:53 AM on March 26, 2007


First video captures it alright.

I'll stay out of the bike messenger politics. But as a horticulturalist upkeeping plants in chicago's downtown skyscrapers (watching a 7:00 am sunrise from the 92nd floor of the sears tower is truly stunning), I heaped my fertilizer, water bins, clippers etc. on my back and biked from job to job, and thus was often mistaken for a messenger, meaning cars would pull in front, cross suddenly or try other deliberate moves. It was a modern mediaeval oddity: journeying from tower to tower via metal horse to tend tropical plants in the midwest...

I won't say biking through thick traffic like folks in that video carried any amount bravery or even ballsiness (word?) for I always felt fear, but it did possess a total letting go, or trust that somehow, even going the wrong direction, through intersections, weaving and barely escaping business pedestrians, shouting taxis, monstrous busses, a path will open for you to speed through.
until it doesn't....
posted by sarcasman at 11:56 AM on March 26, 2007


I wouldn't wish getting doored on anyone, let alone my worst enemy.

Oh boo fucking hoo. They can't injure people just trying to cross with the light if they're in the hospital.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:57 AM on March 26, 2007


Bike messengers can strongarm laywers? That's surprising.
posted by boo_radley


was joking
posted by Burhanistan at 11:58 AM on March 26, 2007


Holy cavalcade of 80s stars: Kevin Bacon, Jami Gertz, Paul Rodriguez, Louie Anderson...
posted by gottabefunky at 11:59 AM on March 26, 2007


homodigitalis, you should read this. It'll make it easier for us to enjoy things you link to. We're (I'm) very lazy sometimes.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:02 PM on March 26, 2007


When we see behavior that's odd, out of place or seemingly insane, why do we term it as being "on crack"? To my knowledge, people under the influence of crack are either in a state of euphoria, incapacitated and unable to speak, or else jittery and violent looking for either cash or property to finance that next high.

Isn't a much better expression "on acid"? People under the influence of LSD exhibit any manner of odd behaviors, quirks, can either be giggling out of control, engaging in a string a non-sequitir verbal musings or else seems just generally kind of scared and freaked out.

I hate how this perfectly great and descriptive expression from the 70s and 80s has been replaced by one that, while having great explosiveness, consonant-wise, is completely off base and wrong... particularly as it is used to describe bicycle messengers.
posted by psmealey at 12:02 PM on March 26, 2007


Oh boo fucking hoo.

An idiotic response, but I still wouldn't wish that you get hit by a car to knock some perspective into you. *shrugs*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 PM on March 26, 2007


Because crack is more fun to say.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:06 PM on March 26, 2007


Burhanistan: it was just weird enough to be bizzarro true.

Also, tell this "hoo" person that there will be no wooing, no romance. Just getting straight to the dirty deed.
posted by boo_radley at 12:06 PM on March 26, 2007


I'm both jealous and resentful of bike messengers. I've seen them do some things that were both crazy and impressive, such as making deliveries in a raging snowstorm. On the other hand, I resent their seeming lack of concern for others as shown in the first video and in my personal experience.
posted by drezdn at 12:06 PM on March 26, 2007


@miss lynnster: Thanks. I always forget that MeFi doesn't do autolinking. Bugger!
posted by homodigitalis at 12:06 PM on March 26, 2007


I was a courier for a couple of years, in DC, not NYC. I rarely saw anyone touch a pedestrian, and I'd bet that those riders aren't so heedless of pedestrians when there isn't a camera there. Regardless, the chances for acute and serious damage are significantly smaller for a biker hitting a pedestrian than for a door hitting a biker. But that's obvious, and Armitage Shanks is only engaging in the puerile pursuit of being unable to simply wish for everyone to be ok. For some moralists, behavior of which they don't approve should be dealt with by acts of karmic retribution that makes the original offense pale in comparison.

That out of the way, I have to say that riding through traffic like this, splitting lanes, catching lights or being able to run them, were some of the moments of most unalloyed joy that I've ever had in my life. They were flow in it's most seminal form, coupling a work imperative with ludic joy. It was just great.

I could do without having been run over (ironically, one of the few times I had stopped at a stopsign), and the weather was bitter and it often sucked to be dirty and sweaty and reviled and gross, but it was a great job for a few years (that was undoubtedly great partly because I knew I would be leaving it).
posted by OmieWise at 12:08 PM on March 26, 2007


They ride like that because they've been told there is crack at their next stop. They really like crack and hold out faith after being lied too so much.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:08 PM on March 26, 2007


First video simultaneously makes me dislike bike messengers and like a song from Broken Social Scene's second album, two things that don't happen very often to me.
posted by chrominance at 12:09 PM on March 26, 2007


Fortunately & unfortunately, natural selection still exists.

so you're saying that its fortunate or unfortunate when people get killed doing a dangerous job?

Watching them cut through pedestrians at that speed against the light makes me impatient to get to the part where the car door goes through their chest.

you must wish death on an awful lot of people if this makes the cut huh? though i'm sure when you're driving you give cyclists their right of way and leave them room to ride safely right...
posted by teishu at 12:09 PM on March 26, 2007


psmealey: I think "on acid" morphed into "you trippin" then went quickly out of fashion as white people everywhere started saying it.
posted by milarepa at 12:10 PM on March 26, 2007


psmeasly, it would be more apropos, as well. I knew a lot of people who regularly rode while high on acid or mushrooms.
posted by OmieWise at 12:10 PM on March 26, 2007


(On 'shrooms as an undergrad I couldn't find my way out of my dorm, let alone mount a bike.
Kids today.)
posted by Dizzy at 12:19 PM on March 26, 2007


For some moralists, behavior of which they don't approve should be dealt with by acts of karmic retribution

What a boatload of wank. If you're going to ride like that through crosswalks, you're going to cause at the minimum a great deal of distress, and more likely you'll eventually hurt someone. From a utilitarian perspective, there would be less suffering overall if you weren't on the street. I don't really care how that happens.

though i'm sure when you're driving you give cyclists their right of way and leave them room to ride safely right...

Been riding a bike in NYC for 10 years, including commuting to work, so yeah, that's exactly what I do. I also try not to hit people in crosswalks, because, you know, I'm all moralistic about not running over dumb tourists.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:20 PM on March 26, 2007


(same here, Dizzy. The thought of actually working a wage job while on psychedelics is kind of depressing.)
posted by Burhanistan at 12:21 PM on March 26, 2007


Saying "I don't care how that happens" defies utilitarian thinking, doesn't it Armitage?
posted by boo_radley at 12:22 PM on March 26, 2007


An idiotic response, but I still wouldn't wish that you get hit by a car to knock some perspective into you. *shrugs*

You're arguing with a toilet fixture there blaze. Don't be surprised that he feels shit upon by everyone including cyclists.
posted by srboisvert at 12:23 PM on March 26, 2007


Watching them cut through pedestrians at that speed against the light makes me impatient to get to the part where the car door goes through their chest.

Currently recuperating a broken kneecap from having been doored by a careless driver, and being a cyclist who generally follows the rules of the road, this comment is really fucking stupid.


Way to miss the point, Einstein. Armitage Shanks was talking about karmic retribution for cyclists who put pedestrians in danger. Since you clearly don't put pedestrians in danger, the comment wasn't directed to you.

But feel free to respond with your personal anecdote that has nothing to do with Armitage Shanks point.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:24 PM on March 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Maybe it was better when the site was offline.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:26 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is an alleycat race. It's not like they ride this aggressively all the time, every day. I don't know if that changes anything, but it's worth pointing out.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:28 PM on March 26, 2007


Maybe it was better when the site was offline.

That's no shit. People are fucking cranky today.
posted by psmealey at 12:30 PM on March 26, 2007


after watching homodigitalis' last video, the EMT in me just wants to say, ABCs people:

Airway, Breathing, Circulation, and add spinal immobilization (hold neck in inline neutral position).

damn. that said... ok, snark away folks.
posted by sarcasman at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2007


Regardless, the chances for acute and serious damage [to the cyclist] are significantly smaller for a biker hitting a pedestrian than for a door hitting a biker.

Fixed that for you. Otherwise it's bullshit.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:34 PM on March 26, 2007


Ok, I couldn't resist...No one seems to understand that the first video is a race, thats why theres so many of them riding together, thats why they're burning every single light, etc...Messengers don't ride that recklessly all the time. I was gonna say something more in defense, but its true, a lot of them are complete dicks. And I agree that its idiotic to kill youself or someone else when the grand prize is probably a REload bag and a set of tires.
posted by fidgets at 12:35 PM on March 26, 2007


god damn you nathan.
posted by fidgets at 12:35 PM on March 26, 2007


What a boatload of wank.

It isn't a boatload of wank. You've persistently insisted that you wish harm on people who might cause harm or distress to others. It's moralizing pure and simple on your part.

I get that you don't like it, and I'm not suggesting that you should, but one can wish the behavior gone or the riders off the street without wishing them injury. That you don't says much more about you than about them. If you've never thought of it as moralizing before you might consider where your impulse comes from, because it sure as shit isn't from utilitarianism. (If you doubt me go back and read your first comment, and consider whether it expresses any desire to protect the pedestrians.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:36 PM on March 26, 2007


I dislike renegade bikers as much as the next pedestrian/nonrenegade biker, but in defense of these guys I think the combination of speeded-up video and helmet cam point-of-view makes this look far more reckless than it really is. I worked for years at the SE corner of Central Park where the first video begins (and commuted by bike from Chelsea, pretty much the route through Times Square that the video follows). In real time, biking this route isn't nearly as crazy as it looks here -- and the pedestrian experience of bikers isn't nearly as menacing as the perspective here suggests.

Ask New York pedestrians what's more menacing: a bike messenger, or a sedan with Jersey plates?
posted by gum at 12:37 PM on March 26, 2007


It's ok. Most people pick up their silly judgmental ways subconsciously when they are young and never bother to examine themselves. You'd be shocked and terrified if you realized how almost total the subversion of man's capacity for seeing himself unbiased has become.

Oh, right...bikes.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:38 PM on March 26, 2007


You do know what probability is, don't you fff?
posted by OmieWise at 12:39 PM on March 26, 2007


CreditWhereCreditIsDueFilter: original (higher quality/Guns'n'Roses) version: Bike Videos | Lucas Brunelle Productions
posted by Edible Energy at 12:41 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing... taking care of my mom after she had 2 strokes kinda changed my attitude about some stuff. Yeah okay, I'm getting old. But it isn't until you suddenly realize just how fragile some people are when they're walking that you really start to see just how dangerous (and scary) it can be when people are riding bikes through a pedestrian crossing. When I take my mom to the mall, I actually have to walk in front of her like a linebacker to make sure that the people who are in a hurry that might bump her bump me first. I can take the jostling, but while she walks just fine her balance isn't great & neither is her vision and she can't. So, she gets rightfully terrified when people don't pay attention to where they are going and knock into her.

Without me around to play offense, she's already cracked her head open twice within the last year. 35 stitches the first time, 10 the second. One of those bike messengers would easily take her out even if it missed her.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:41 PM on March 26, 2007


Way to miss the point, Einstein

Point your snark somewhere else, genius. The physics of getting hit by a car is no joke, and it's ill-spirited and utterly stupid on a number of levels to wish that degree of harm on someone, just to get them off the street.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:47 PM on March 26, 2007


Bandwitch - Broken Social Scene.

I do love me some BSS. For those who like the sound, Apostle of Hustle (by one of the band members ) is similar but with a bit less pop and a bit more noise.
posted by srboisvert at 12:53 PM on March 26, 2007


Wow. That was astonishingly beautiful. I was certain that the video had been sped up slightly, but the pace of the pedestrians indicates otherwise.

It all becomes even more amazing when they're out of traffic and on the bridge - one of the riders has his feet up as the pedals continue to spin. He's been riding a fixed gear bike throughout. He couldn't have stopped for those pedestrians even if he'd wanted to (fixed gear purists will argue against this, but I don't drink their kool-aid).

Though hardly a bike messenger, I've ridden through Chicago's loop countless times. While I try to follow the rules of the road, I've definitely gotten caught up in the flow of squeezing through traffic, dodging busses and finding narrow paths through gridlock. Messengers speed past me all the while, of course, as their zen is of a superior grade than mine.

Given the inherent danger, I've come to believe that cyclists ought to be held to the same standards and traffic laws as motorists. We can't clamor for acceptance and a right to share the road while at the same time flagrantly violating its rules. Further, there need to be standards for bicycle safety - no fixed gear bikes, front and rear wheel brakes, blinky lights and, most importantly, HELMETS!

Which makes me a proper stick in the mud, I suppose. Ranting aside, that video was extraordinary. I'd love to get a high def version.
posted by aladfar at 12:55 PM on March 26, 2007


Maybe Bush should invade Bikemessengerstan seeing as how they are a grave and gathering danger.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 12:56 PM on March 26, 2007


But it isn't until you suddenly realize just how fragile some people are when they're walking that you really start to see just how dangerous (and scary) it can be when people are riding bikes through a pedestrian crossing.

Exactly. It's a really selfish act, and living in a big, densely populated city requires making allowances for other people. It's really not that complicated.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:00 PM on March 26, 2007


It's absolutely not that complicated. Condemning the act is entirely appropriate (I too condemn it).

Wishing harm on the perpetrators because they might hurt someone in the big city is ill-spirited, at best.
posted by OmieWise at 1:11 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love the line from homodigitalis' first link: "Look at the penalty for failure, dude."
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:13 PM on March 26, 2007


as a former motorcycle rider, i can say that many of us have to ride aggressively in big cities because many motorists and pedestrians aren't actively looking out for us. i think the saying "the best defense is an offense" may apply here. i don't always condone it, i've seen very bad behavior by some riders but when you are up against cars, its really a life and death matter with little room for politeness.
posted by cazoo at 1:14 PM on March 26, 2007


Regardless, the chances for acute and serious damage [to the cyclist] are significantly smaller for a biker hitting a pedestrian than for a door hitting a biker.

Fixed that for you. Otherwise it's bullshit.


Yeah man getting hit by a five pound bike is totally the same as getting hit by a 2000 pound car. that's just physics man!

I've actually been run into by a bike and a car (both times on a bike). There is no comparison.

With the bike, me and another cyclist were on a sidewalk (everyone bikes on sidewalks here) and I came to a quick stop where I spun the back wheel out to turn. The other biker rode right into me, and, nothing happened. She was like "oops" and that was that.

The second time I was bicking really quickly on a City bike path which looks more like a sidewalk, but it's offically for bicycle use. It's a slight downgrade and the wind is to by back, so I'm going like 20mph probably. I come up to the intersection and I have a green light (and a walk sign)

The perpendicular traffic has a red light (obviously) and were a few cars sitting their waiting for the light, not moving.

Just as I'm going through the intersection, this idiot decides to make a right turn on red, and drives right into me. I mean when I started to cross the road, he wasn't moving, and when I cross he literally started driving and ran right into me. He literally only had a few seconds to accelerate.

I go flying, smashed on the ground and the front tire is warped and the left pedal is bent in so far that I can't turn it all the way around. The guy wrote me a $200 check right there, but a couple of days later my left knee started to hurt, and continued to do so on and off for like a month.

Keep in mind this guy had not been moving two or three seconds before he hit me. He couldn't have been going faster then the girl who hit me with her bike.

Obviously it's possible to injure people with a bicycle, just as it's possible to injure someone by running into them on foot, but the idea that it's as dangerous as running into them in a car is preposterous.
posted by delmoi at 1:23 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a race! An illegal messenger race. Yes, cyclists often do stupid things, just like motorists and pedestrians do. Yes, cyclists should follow the same rules of the road as motorists. But to hold this video up as some sort of indicator of cyclist behaviour is absurd. (To then wish harm on all cyclists is sad.)

(Aladfar: why do you think that legislation of equipment will somehow make cycling safe? Of course a cyclist on the street who's not riding in control is a hazard to all. But why do you hate the fixed gear? You suggest helmet laws; why not reflective vests too? The real way to make cycling safe is increased motorist education.)

That video was beautiful. Irresponsible, illegal, etc. etc. but so beautiful!
posted by phliar at 1:28 PM on March 26, 2007


It's a race! An illegal messenger race. Yes, cyclists often do stupid things, just like motorists and pedestrians do. Yes, cyclists should follow the same rules of the road as motorists. But to hold this video up as some sort of indicator of cyclist behaviour is absurd. (To then wish harm on all cyclists is sad.)

(Aladfar: why do you think that legislation of equipment will somehow make cycling safe? Of course a cyclist on the street who's not riding in control is a hazard to all. But why do you hate the fixed gear? You suggest helmet laws; why not reflective vests too? The real way to make cycling safe is increased motorist education.)

That video was beautiful. Irresponsible, illegal, etc. etc. but so beautiful!
posted by phliar at 1:28 PM on March 26, 2007


The dreadlocked messenger pictured in the top left video in Edible Energy's link is Mike D. He is one of the most colorful and charming people you could ever hope to meet. And he knows how to run red lights with style and flair.
posted by peeedro at 1:33 PM on March 26, 2007


Empathy. Everyone wants everyone else to have it for them, but of course everyone feels free not to have it for anyone else.
posted by SaintCynr at 1:33 PM on March 26, 2007


Yeah man getting hit by a five pound bike is totally the same as getting hit by a 2000 pound car. that's just physics man!

Wow.

Let's go through this really slowly.

You don't get hit by a "five pound bike". You get by a 100+ pound person on a five pound bike, in motion.

When you get doored, you don't get hit by a moving car. You get hit by a door on a stationary car. In that instance, the amount of damage to you is typically proportional to the speed at which you hit the car. In that scenario, the damage caused is probably not an order of magnitude more than the damage you can cause to a pedestrian if you hit them at the same speed.

Obviously it's possible to injure people with a bicycle, just as it's possible to injure someone by running into them on foot, but the idea that it's as dangerous as running into them in a car is preposterous.

An utterly obvious point with no bearing on the comment you responded to whatsoever.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:37 PM on March 26, 2007


if you like bss give Do Make Say Think a listen, the bands share some members and it was more apparent than ever on their last album, which came out earlier this year.

also, theres a dvd/book called Pedal thats all about bicycle messengers. The book is a few essays and alot of portraits, but the dvd is a poorly edited piece that really has its moments. Everyone they managed to interview doesnt even begin to fit the messenger stereotype. At least worth checking out through interlibrary loan, thats how i got it.
posted by sponge at 1:39 PM on March 26, 2007


Bike messengers suck.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:39 PM on March 26, 2007


This was linked before in pre-Youtube days. These riders were selfish pricks then and they're selfish pricks now. Were one of them to ride thru a crosswalk like that when I was a pedestrian they'd land on their ass.

Obviously it's possible to injure people with a bicycle

Actually, people have been killed by being hit by cyclist. It's happened at least twice in Toronto that I know of and probably many other times I don't.

Yes, more cyclists get hit by cars than people by cyclists. That's hardly the point. When the morons ride like this, it's no wonder.
posted by dobbs at 1:42 PM on March 26, 2007


Given the inherent danger, I've come to believe that cyclists ought to be held to the same standards and traffic laws as motorists.
I believe in most jurisdictions, they are.
I mean, the laws apply equally to bikes... I haven't actually seen too many folks arrested for running red lights, etc.

I've got mixed feelings. I do appreciate people out there not burning fossil fuels. I think the messengers perform a useful service. I don't think the base pay is that great, and benefits often suck, along with the weather in many cities.

I do not like it that my wife got hit twice by messengers in DC.

Favorite personally witnessed bicycle accident: courier going wrong way down one-way street hit jaywalking pedestrian. Score:½,½
posted by MtDewd at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks Edible Energy, the original G&R soundtrack suits it much better.
posted by anthill at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2007


I don't really have an opinion on bicycle messengers, but one of the cyclists in the first clip is wearing a Lotto-Domo jersey, which earns a thumbs-up from me. Personally, I prefer the Euskaltel-Euskadi ones, but there ya go...
posted by afx237vi at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2007


Well, all of that said... I don't think anyone is right here. The bike messengers do endanger people (including themselves), but the hatred of their actions can get out of hand & misplaced. I've learned this firsthand thanks to spending Christmas Day 2005 in the ICU after my adopted little brother was purposely hit & run by an SUV driver in an anti-biker rage. Not good. He had his entire face reconstructed & was in the ICU for ten days. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2007


I mostly see people on bikes get hit by cars, or get doored. I rarely see pedestrians get hit by people on bikes, that having been said, stay off the fucking sidewalk bicycle people, please. I understand that this is anecdotal data.

In my teenage years I rode all over New York city without a helmet which was stupid, everyone should wear a helmet.

I once took some acid and rode around for four or five hours with a bunch of friends. It was amazing, one of the few hallucinogenic experiences of my many where I can remember every detail. When I got back to my house, I fell over when I tried to get off my bike and my legs kept making pedaling motions for a minute. I'd been pedaling non-stop for all that time.

I interact with lot's of bike messengers at work and for the most part they are very nice and funny people who are also a little crazy. I like them. I hope they don't get hurt. I understand that this sentiment might apply only to someone with a personality like mine.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:58 PM on March 26, 2007


(Ha ha, I was about to walk back in and correct my earlier statement to say "Broken Social Scene's third album," but I see you're all busy with the bicycling hate. Enjoy your sandbox, kids!)
posted by chrominance at 2:23 PM on March 26, 2007


For you urban cycling rookies, take note of the use of lateral movement to get through red lights. Turn to match your velocity to that of the traffic, then hop through the lanes one by one, and you can cross all but the busiest one-way streets quickly and (relatively) safely). This technique allows the rider to conserve precious momentum. Also, it is more fun than the law technically allows.
posted by Mister_A at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2007


Point your snark somewhere else, genius.

Just pointing out your utter failure to grasp the point.

Yeah man getting hit by a five pound bike is totally the same as getting hit by a 2000 pound car.

You're on a roll today.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:40 PM on March 26, 2007


He's been riding a fixed gear bike throughout. He couldn't have stopped for those pedestrians even if he'd wanted to (fixed gear purists will argue against this, but I don't drink their kool-aid).

Are you sure he didn't have a brake? I mean, you can install them pretty easily. The only "no brakes on fixed gears" conversations I've seen have ended in bloody flamewars; there's no agreement on the topic that I know if.
posted by mkb at 2:48 PM on March 26, 2007


An aside: I've always said (and heard) "bicycle couriers". I've never heard of the term "bike messengers" until today.
posted by philfromhavelock at 2:53 PM on March 26, 2007


Just pointing out your utter failure to grasp the point.

Your willing inability to understand basic physical concepts aside, snarking doesn't get you much mileage with me. Sorry, but wishing someone to get doored is just pretty awful and there's not really any way to rationalize it. Let it go.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on March 26, 2007


I have this image of someone in an intersection shaking their fist at a cycle courier and then getting run over and killed by a truck. Then their friend goes "Fucking cycle couriers"
posted by srboisvert at 3:02 PM on March 26, 2007


n aside: I've always said (and heard) "bicycle couriers". I've never heard of the term "bike messengers" until today.

A sanitation engineer smells as sweet as a garbageman and his roses all the same.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:06 PM on March 26, 2007


You know what people, traffic laws exist not to control and own your soul, but instead to encourage safe behavior. If you break the traffic laws and you harm yourself or others, it isn't Karma in action, it's logical consequences from dangerous behavior.

So, please, put the romantic notions aside for a moment and stop arguing that the bikers/tourists/drivers/etc. had whatever coming or that riding is a God given right to freedom... Nobody has harsh bodily injury "coming to them" and acting like an idiot on two wheels is not a right. People make stupid decisions and the results are entirely predictable.

I will also say this - riders that are blaming drivers for opening their car doors - you have to be kidding. The rider has the obligation to stay clear of the areas of danger and to travel at speeds that enable them to avoid danger to themselves and others. This "it's the other guy's fault" mentality is the same bad logic that has car drivers blaming the guy ahead of them for stopping too quickly when they run into him - no, it's their fault for tailing too close and not being able to stop.

Now, what should be enforced here is medical insurance for the riders, accident insurance for the riders and their company, and traffic laws for everyone.
posted by Muddler at 3:18 PM on March 26, 2007


Assuming their ability to weave through pedestrians is at least as good as weaving through traffic, I doubt these riders are any real danger to pedestrians. No more so then someone behind the wheel.
posted by batou_ at 3:23 PM on March 26, 2007


than someone behind the wheel.
posted by batou_ at 3:24 PM on March 26, 2007


It's absolutely not that complicated. Condemning the act is entirely appropriate (I too condemn it). Wishing harm on the perpetrators because they might hurt someone in the big city is ill-spirited, at best.

FFS, this is teh intarnets. Unwind your panties.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:40 PM on March 26, 2007


Delmoi, see Armitage. To illustrate:

dammit, I had a nice ASCII art illustration of a jetliner labelled "The Topic At Hand" flying far, far above a little tree with Delmoi sitting beside it... but it all crashes and burns in preview.

Nebbermind the illustration, then.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:54 PM on March 26, 2007


Batou_ please see my earlier comment. You may change your mind down the road when walking becomes inevitably more challenging. And it will.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:55 PM on March 26, 2007


Your willing inability to understand basic physical concepts aside

A five-pound, riderless bike won't do much damage to a pedestrian. A five-pound bike with a 165 pound human on it will. And that concludes this week's lesson in basic physics.

Sorry, but wishing someone to get doored is just pretty awful and there's not really any way to rationalize it. Let it go.

I never said I agreed with it. I said your analogy was hopelessly flawed and misdirected. Grab a clue.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:56 PM on March 26, 2007


The rider has the obligation to stay clear of the areas of danger and to travel at speeds that enable them to avoid danger to themselves and others.

Let's admit that the roads and rules are not optimally designed for motor vehicles and bikes. And they are not made clear. Where is a bike supposed to ride if it cannot ride within five feet of parked cars? Any further out would be in a traffic lane. In most cities, a bike can legally occupy an entire lane, but this seems to more often than not enrage the surrounding vehicle drivers -- even when everyone is at a stop light.

I've lived in small cities that have prohibit bikes on sidewalks, which I think is a good rule. But the roads were not wide enough for a safe shoulder, and of course there are no bike lanes.

In Portland we are fortunate enough to have actual bike lanes along main roads, and it's awesome. Now if there is a designated lane, why should the biker be responsible for car doors? Car traffic definitely expects us to stay in our special lane. And I think this makes the car parkers more aware when they open their doors, since there's a thin lane hugging their door space.

The only times I've been hit by cars on my bike were: riding off sidewalk into a green signaled pedestrian crosswalk by a car turning right on red without stopping; and one time I decided to occupy the lane at a stop sign rather than the curbside, and was hit from behind by a car after we were both at a full stop, and I inched out to see around the parked traffic -- she pulled out into the intersection, assuming I had gone -- eventhough I was right in front of her.
posted by asfuller at 4:50 PM on March 26, 2007


But what about that Kevin Bacon, people!!???? Comeon! He could dance on a bike AND in a barn. We are talking TALENT. Don't deny it. You know you agree.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2007


Bicycle politics aside, one thing that video clearly demonstrates is how comparatively useless a car is for basic transportation in a city.
posted by jsonic at 5:25 PM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


In 1994 I loaned Mr. K. Bacon $20 and a U of P sweatshirt and he has YET TO RETURN THEM so I call on all MeFites to JUST SAY NO to Mr. Bacon I'll be in my trailer blogging if you want me I feel just awful.
posted by Dizzy at 5:26 PM on March 26, 2007


I know exactly what you mean, Dizzy. In 6th grade I loaned Doreen Feldman 10¢ to buy some candy and bitch still hasn't paid it back. Please boycott Doreen Feldman. Whoever she is.

On second thought, she's probably been punished. She had to go through life named Doreen Feldman.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:52 PM on March 26, 2007


Not impressed.
posted by LordSludge at 5:54 PM on March 26, 2007


I suppose that if I carelessly let slip that, in my more cantankerous moments, I'd be thrilled to hear that Ghostrider (of LS's clip just now) ended up splattered on a bridge pillar, it'd cause a bit of an upset in here?

'cause, really, doing 240kmh in traffic, I'm really not sure the guy deserves my best cheer.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:25 PM on March 26, 2007


Well, fuck, and then again maybe he buried himself in a car, killing all.

The photo is tagged "sweden" in its filename. Makes me a little ill.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:27 PM on March 26, 2007


I said your analogy was hopelessly flawed and misdirected. Grab a clue.

It's not an analogy, but that's apparently the least of your comprehension problems. Let it go.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2007


I know a woman who was killed by a bike messenger who slammed into her as she stood by the curb and waited for the light to change. Coma and then dead. Left two crippled daughters behind. Bike messengers in NYC are scary, unsafe and in my experience full of rage about anybody who gets in their way. Then there are the cyclists who are careless and it's a miracle they survive.
posted by nickyskye at 6:52 PM on March 26, 2007


Metafilter: Let it go.
posted by elwoodwiles at 6:53 PM on March 26, 2007


That's some clip, nickyskye, but that is clearly a moped or scooter, not a bicycle.

On to more serious matters. I used to hear stuff like this all the time when I was a messenger:
I will also say this - riders that are blaming drivers for opening their car doors - you have to be kidding. The rider has the obligation to stay clear of the areas of danger and to travel at speeds that enable them to avoid danger to themselves and others (my emphasis).
It just doesn't work that way--not in Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, DC, Baltimore, or Chicago. Nor many other places in the US, I suspect. The cyclist is legally entitled to occupy a lane, but this legal right is cold comfort when you're lying in the hospital with pins in your legs after a car-bike crash. Drivers do not respect the rights of cyclists, and often intentionally intimidate them, throw objects at them, swerve their cars at them, try to grab or slap them, and more—these are just some of the behaviors I have personally encountered. This leads to an adversarial relationship with drivers; cyclists are not inclined to give drivers the benefit of the doubt because we take so much shit every day from drivers.

Also, if you open your car door into any oncoming vehicle, it is your fault. You are supposed to check to see if anything is coming before opening the door. And don't even get me started about people suddenly opening doors in the middle of the road (nowhere near the curb) to throw something on the ground or whatever. It is not easy to be a cyclist in most cities in the US, but it is actually even worse in the suburbs IMO. People act like they have never seen a bike out there, then they lay on the horn because they have no idea how to safely pass, then they gun the motor and clip you because they're impatient. So people, chill the fuck out about cyclists already. Think about what you can do, if you're a driver, to make the roads safer for all road users. Look before you open the door. Use your signals. And for fuck's sake, don't jam on the throttle only to cut right in front of me and then hit your brakes just so you can have the honor of passing me before you make your god-damned turn.
posted by Mister_A at 7:20 PM on March 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


I will also say this - riders that are blaming drivers for opening their car doors - you have to be kidding. The rider has the obligation to stay clear of the areas of danger and to travel at speeds that enable them to avoid danger to themselves and others.

Bullshit. You are responsible for looking before you open your door into traffic. It is just as much your fault if you open your door into a passing car as if you open your door into a passing cyclist.

Lots of roads have a clearly marked bike lane right next to where you park your car, so you damn well know bike traffic is coming. And for the streets that don't have bike lanes, bikes and all the other traffic will be traveling right next to where you are parked. Hell if it's a busy street and it's not a huge pain in the ass I will get out the passengers side even if I'm driving.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:50 PM on March 26, 2007


Also, if you open your car door into any oncoming vehicle, it is your fault.

True, that. Happened to my wife, who was cycling. Insurance company didn't bat an eye: driver at fault, new bike. Glad she didn't break her kneecap.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 PM on March 26, 2007


It's not an analogy.

Wrong again. Do you even understand what you're arguing? If you want to let it go, by all means please don't bother responding.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:44 PM on March 26, 2007


*takes a deep breath, sighs*

It's not an analogy, it's not even a comparison. It's an example of the real-world consequences of dooring someone, and why it's really childish to willfully seek out that kind of serious damage on another human being. But by all means, continue being deliberately thick.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 PM on March 26, 2007


Willfully seeking?

I wish certain drama queens would get a cluestick upside the head, such that they'd understand that off-hand spew on a BBS does not represent real-life.

Now if one were to willfully seek to apply said cluestick to the drama queen, say by googling methods of applying cluesticks, the purchase of a cluestick, and a mapquest search for driving instructions to the drama queen's abode, then one might properly get all melodramatic about how horrible it is.

But in the meantime, no one has named named, no one has threatened to actually start dooring cyclists, and only a few feathers are ruffled. Chill out, lest you prove yourself more a twit than you already have.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 AM on March 27, 2007


c/named named/been named/. And various other typos.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:15 AM on March 27, 2007


reminded me of this motorcyclist racing the périphérique.
posted by progosk at 1:29 AM on March 27, 2007


I know a woman who was killed by a bike messenger who slammed into her as she stood by the curb and waited for the light to change. Coma and then dead. Left two crippled daughters behind. Bike messengers in NYC are scary, unsafe and in my experience full of rage about anybody who gets in their way.

The difference is that every single person on metafilter probably knows at least 1 or 2 people who were killed in car accidents. ~40,000 Americans die each year in car accidents. ~700 are cyclists. Over a million people a year are killed in car accidents worldwide. 40 times those numbers are injured.

Cyclists are easy to hate because they are visible, often poor and not encased in a 2 ton controlled explosion death machine and because for most people cyclists belong to the favourite target of abuse group: the other. It is easy to point at others and tell them what to do when it doesn't affect you at all but it is ridiculous to point at a cyclist from your car seat and call them reckless and dangerous. Even when they are you are more dangerous just by getting in that car. Even if you think you are a 'good driver' just like everyone else does.

I remember when Metro Toronto police had a crackdown on cyclists a few years ago following an anti-cycling column in the Toronto Star. I was working at an insurance company at the time so I got to read about the 4 cyclists who were run over that week by drivers on our books. We had 5% of the market.

Cycle courier fatalities are oddities that are memorable because they are so infrequent. The automobile carnage is just constant background noise that people barely even notice until it touches someone they know and even then it is strangely accepted.
posted by srboisvert at 1:41 AM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Regardless, the chances for acute and serious damage [to the cyclist] are significantly smaller for a biker hitting a pedestrian than for a door hitting a biker.

Have you ever seen a biker hit a pedestrian? It's very hard to hit a pedestrian head-on on a bike (read: in a way where the pedestrian's body absorbs a significant portion of the bike's momentum). Bike-pedestrian collisions are almost always glancing blows to the pedestrian which sends the biker crashing out of control, which at high speed can deal massive damage. The damage to the pedestrian is usually superfluous, and incomparable to any collision with a car.

Yeah, the bullshit's on you.
posted by azazello at 6:36 PM on March 27, 2007


I'll say it again.

azazello, you are not considering the people who are in a different place in life than you are. There are a lot more people out there that can be injured by a bike whizzing by them at top speed than you think. They don't have to be hit head on by the bike for that to happen.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:37 PM on March 27, 2007


Goddamn, I hate it when people recklessly endanger others' lives and then shrug it off.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 PM on March 27, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:25 PM on March 28, 2007


I thought Christ was the good guy, not the asshole. Judas, now there is an asshole. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 7:20 PM on March 28, 2007


Actually, there's more than one interpretation out there about the motives of Judas. I won't go in to a long winded explanation, but basically he played his part alloted by Jesus perfectly and it was part of his own process of purification to undergo the revulsion and hatred heaped upon him because of his apparent betrayal. But with all of these things, the external event that is manifest in history and the eyes of ordinary mortals, it is really quite something on another level from this mundane world entirely so we only see a small fractional glimpse of the total event.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:28 PM on March 28, 2007


Goddamn, I hate it when people ascribe to me motives based on poor reading comprehension.

miss lynnster, I appreciate your mother's condition (although I hope she's using a walker after these incidents). It has nothing to do with the fact that, on average, the damage to the biker as a result of a collision is far greater than the damage to the pedestrian; the collision is the pedestrian's fault (I'm not saying this is the case for bike messengers running red lights through busy crosswalks. Just today while on a bike I had to avoid about 20 people total jaywalking against red lights, and many others outside an intersection); and it is completely insane to compare it to any collision with a motor vehicle, including one with a stationary motor vehicle.

fff: I have never come close to hitting a pedestrian or being hit by a motor vehicle, I obey traffic laws while on a bike, I'm far more attentive to many pedestrians' and drivers' safety than they themselves are, I live in a very bike-unfriendly city, and while that video is beautiful, I agree that those guys are pretty reckless. But if you're going to insist on trivializing the damage from dooring someone and then baselessly accuse others of reckless endangerment, then go to hell. I know far too many traffic law-abiding bikers seriously injured by cars to have anything but disdain in answer to yours.

As for alexreynolds' comment, I consider it a bonus of sorts.
posted by azazello at 5:24 PM on March 29, 2007


Trivializing the damage from of dooring? In what way did I do that?

Baselessly accuse others of reckless endangerment? Gods sakes, man, watch the video. They recklessly endangered everyone.

You know what? I just re-read the thread. I suggest you do the same, because whateverthehell you're on about, it weren't me that done it.

Go directly to Hell yourself. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:01 PM on March 29, 2007


Trivializing the damage from of dooring? In what way did I do that?

right here

Baselessly accuse others of reckless endangerment? Gods sakes, man, watch the video. They recklessly endangered everyone

No, you underhandedly baselessly accused me of reckless endangerment. I leave the weaseling to you.
posted by azazello at 6:06 PM on March 29, 2007


Sweet jesus.

I'm out of this conversation. It's not worth it.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:06 PM on March 29, 2007


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