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New Yorkers really are different
By Dave Winer on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 7:55 AM.

As you know, I am a daily bike rider, at least in summer, here in NYC.  #

There's a lot of comeraderie among bikers, probably because we all have to deal with other New Yorkers on foot and in cars.  #

The other day, a large group of students blocked the path. They were lined up, waiting for a light to turn so they could cross 12th Ave, which is a very heavily traffic'd street. If, for example, they had tried to cross it without waiting for the light, some of them would have been killed for sure. The traffic goes by at 50-plus MPH. So of course they waited. #

As I approached this scene I could see that I would have to stop, dismount, and walk my bike through the crowd. But I was not the first biker to arrive on the scene. Another guy, about my age, was trying to explain to these youngsters that what they were doing was wrong, and potentially dangerous. The students were telling him, loudly, in earshot of their teachers, to fuck off. He persisted. They threatened him. I kept my mouth shut. I knew from past experience that this is what would happen. I've seen worse.  #

A picture named hello.jpgAnother example. Approaching a group of people from behind, two men and two women, walking four-across, completely blocking my lane. I say "On your left," as I prepare to pass. You want to be sure they have this information, because when you pass, you never know which way they're going to shift. If they move to their left you're going to hit them. And of course they'll hit you. When the guy hears this, he yells back in a mocking voice "On your left," and sticks his arm out, with a half-full water bottle, which hits me in the arm, and knocks me off balance. I recovered my balance, and didn't stop. There's just no point. This isn't like the midwest or California. The guy isn't going to be reasoned with. And while technically I was assaulted, I doubt if I'd get much sympathy from a cop, who seem to have it in for bikers.  #

Not to say there aren't crazy idiot bikers, there are. There are several places on the bike trail I ride where we must share the space with pedestrians. No matter how badly the pedestrians behave, there's no excuse for using them as slalom poles, and when in their presence, you must slow down. They often have little kids with them, who can quickly dart out from between the adults. Regardless, bikers do some utterly dumbfoundingly dangerous things, rushing by at 20-plus MPH, forcing pedestrians to run out of their way, and other bikers to shake their heads in disbelief. (Like yours truly.) #

On every trip I see a guy (almost always a man) riding while texting, both hands on his iPhone, eyes on the screen, riding like a missle without a brain (and of course no helmet). Okay, he feels indestructible. But I don't. The risk he's taking is a shared risk. There are other people on the road. Yet, there he goes. #

Many years ago I wrote a story about the day the Mets won the World Series in 1969. How New York, that day, even in Manhattan and the Bronx, was the City of Smiles. I wrote: "There was no sadness in New York that day. The city with no heart all of a sudden had a huge one!" #

I got a lot of pushback on that. People said NY wasn't like that anymore. It was a friendly city. I had no basis on which to argue, so I didn't (but I didn't change the piece, either). #

The truth is, while NY has many redeeming qualities, I've lived in friendly places, and New York is not one of them.  #

A picture named bikesmall.jpgThis subject came up during a Twitter thread with Emily Bell, who expressed horror at the way New Jersey Governor Christie responded to a voter who raised the issue of where his children go to school, saying it was none of her business. To me this didn't seem particularly jarring or out of place. Not that I would have said that myself, to a customer, or a user of mine, I wouldn't have. But Christie is clearly a New Yorker (NJ is even more NY than NY) -- and while many New Yorkers wouldn't like to be treated that way, unfortunately, we are largely immune to it. It's just the way people are brought up here.  #

Today's ride: 1 hour 4 minutes, 11.42 mi. #

Christmas Tree
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