One fine morning as I was about to cross a street in lower Manhattan and go to work, I had barely stepped off the curb when I heard the thin chimes of a bicycle bell. I looked to see a cyclist moving towards me.
“Get out of the bike lane,” sneered the cyclist as he pedaled past me.
Not only were we not in a bike lane, he was going the wrong way down a one-way street. I stood there flabbergasted as he rolled by. A few seconds later, I heard him ring the tinny bell once again from farther up the street.
That incident pretty much encapsulates much of the New York bicycle situation. A very large segment of the cycling population not only regularly violate all laws of traffic and common sense, they have an entitled attitude about it. They want all the rights of an automobile owner and none of the responsibilities of sharing the road.
Let me iterate that I am not against cycling or cyclists. I have many friends who enjoy riding bicycles and if I didn’t live 16 miles away from work, I’d gladly consider riding a bicycle to and from work. It’s good exercise, better for the environment and all that jazz. When I was a youth I rode a bicycle constantly and terrorized adults and other children with it whenever I could. I’m all in favor of bike lanes, bicycle parking and even the bike sharing programs that are finally starting to take shape in the Big Apple.
A good rule of thumb for cyclists is: If I can’t do it with a car, don’t you try it with a bicycle. That does not apply to keeping the bike in your apartment and walking it on sidewalks etc. If I drove my truck on a sidewalk, ran a red light and then drove the wrong way down a one way street, I’d expect to be arrested for reckless driving. Just because you can do less damage with a bicycle doesn’t excuse you from riding it recklessly, and the Big Apple is sick with reckless cyclists.
Walk the streets of New York and without fail you will see cyclists do one or more of the following routinely: running red lights; riding the wrong way down one-way streets; riding on sidewalks; passing traffic on the right, even passing cars making turns. It’s without fail. If a motorist is making a right turn and I try to pass them on the right, I’d be the biggest jerk in the world, yet a cyclist will yell and pound on a vehicle to protest their imagined “right” to be a reckless idiot. I’ve seen it happen.
They operate on the theory that they are an endlessly persecuted minority and thrive on being the victims of ignorant motorists, homicidal drivers and overzealous police.
In many cases cyclists are treated unfairly. Every cyclist I know has a litany of horror stories that involve being struck by car, hassled by the police or confounded by ignorant pedestrians. People that I know have been the victims of aggressive motorists who think they own the road, and I’ve had to break myself of the habit of prematurely stepping into the street before I have the right of way.
But bicycle culture has given us another urban horror that the city doesn’t need, that of a cyclist every bit as entitled and boorish as the most reckless motorist or thuggish pedestrian.
Witnessed one night on Stanton Street on New York’s Lower East Side: A van was driving the wrong way down this one way street. Next to the van was a man on a bicycle, yelling at the driver of the van for driving the wrong way while also driving the wrong way.
“You’re both going the wrong way,” I said to the man.
“I can do that faggot!” he called to me as he bravely sped away on his bike. Actually he can’t; cyclists have to obey the same rules of the road as cars. And unless he’s just won the Tour de France, a grown man in bicycle shorts has no business calling anyone a faggot. But more to the point, riding the wrong way down a one-way street is especially odious in New York, where pedestrians are accustomed to looking only one way before crossing a street because so many streets are one way. Yet many cyclists do this all the time and think nothing of it.
Many of the cyclists are good people trying to escape the dual hells of public transit and city driving. I can’t blame them for wanting the freedom to move in a city that is so often confining. But having a smaller carbon footprint doesn’t absolve you from the rules of the road or the precepts of human decency.
New York mayoral candidates agree: it’s OK to suck a baby’s penis.
There’s a little-known and thankfully infrequent practice called metzitzah b’peh where a mohel (rabbi who performs circumcisions) briefly sucks the wound of a freshly-circumcised baby’s penis. The stated purpose is to clean the wound of blood.
In addition to the fact that parents voluntarily are letting someone suck off their newborn infant, a rabbi managed to kill two babies by infecting them with herpes in this manner. After this happened, some city officials wanted to ban the practice. It couldn’t be too tough to outlaw performing oral sex on an infant, right? One would think that would already be covered by laws against sex with children and such. But some Jewish groups complained and instead of giving these baby-blowing rabbis a one-way ticket to the big house, the city’s board of health requires that parents of the infant receive notice of potential health hazards and give written permission.
The matter has recently come up as a question to mayoral candidates, with only City Council speaker Christine Quinn defending the Board of Health rule, though with some pandering blather about a “lack of engagement” with people who defend this practice.
So there’s a religious ritual that allows a member of the clergy to perform oral sex on a newborn infant and the political class is debating whether or not to force parents to fill out a permission slip?
In a sane society, pedophiles are put in prison. Just because you have a Hebrew word for a sick ritual doesn’t make it acceptable. I’m not sure what the Latin translation is for “infant blowjob,” (“oralis coitum cum infante?”) but if the Vatican published one it wouldn’t make their legions of pedophile priests any less perverse.
And keep in mind, this is only done by a very small minority of a very small minority. Most Jews are not members of the black hat squad, and this is very rare even for them. It is a miniscule population of religious fanatics that do this, what are the electoral benefits of turning a blind eye to a pedophile ritual that has actually killed babies through disease? Apparently the candidates for mayor think that the well-organized Hasidim can deliver enough votes to make it worth their while to play ball.
Religious freedom is one of the founding principles of the U.S., but that’s no cover to commit horrible crimes. The people who brought down the twin towers were earnestly following their heartfelt religious edicts. Could I sacrifice a chicken at my desk at work if I started to practice Santeria? I’m sure if researched the pagan rituals of the ancient Celts, I could find a religious excuse to paint myself blue and fornicate with 24-year-old nubiles. It would be a beautiful celebration of my Irish heritage, I’m sure, but that wouldn’t get me very far in divorce court.
New York is home to every minority you can dream of, and you can covert to whatever religion you want to. Let’s at least draw the line at sucking babies’ penises.