Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bike-o-Paths or Pathobicyclitis?

Red Grooms, Bicyclist, 1975
Loyal readers will recall that, in my last post, I raised the question of why some, certainly not all, bicyclists ride with reckless disregard for the lowly "ped," let alone rules of the road: running red lights, riding on the sidewalk, and the like. More to the point, why are they so maddeningly disengaged about their bad behavior?

34% Bicycle
It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that Flann O'Brien has provided the explanation--and the solution. In his novel The Third Policeman, completed in 1940 but not published until 1967, Sergeant Pluck explains to the nameless narrator the entire totality and sum of the Atomic Theory. In brief, whether man, sheep, or bicycle, "everything is composed of small particles of itself." When an object comes into prolonged or intense contact with another, some of the particles, or atoms, from the one will go into the other.

Here's Pluck: "The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of the bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are half people and half bicycles."

With a passable understanding of the theory, it is clear that many of our citizenry are on the way to becoming more bike than man (or woman). Bike messengers and delivery boys are too far gone to save. But there's still hope for the hipsters and dudes if we follow the sergeant's example--steal their bicycles. Yes, that's right, in order to preserve whatever human "mollycules" they have left, we must take their bikes and hide or dismantle them. Repeatedly, if necessary. You can curse Bloomberg and his bike lanes all you want, but if you care about your loved one, and he or she is spending more and more time on his/her bicycle*, there's no alternative.

(*Leaning against the wall on on one elbow rather than sitting is a sure sign of becoming bicycle.)

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