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transportation news & views
Sept. 27, 2001
Corvus Corvax, Cycle Messengers for World Domination,
Michael Zakes, Patrick Goetz
Research/Tips: David Bench, De Clarke, Robert
Chevy NOT bragging about wasting
oil. In our last newsletter (9-21) we pondered whether Chevy was
really bragging about wasting oil in its television commercials, with
their reference to "moving over 10 million gallons of Texas
tradition". This seemed too bizarre to be true, even in Texas, so we
asked Chevrolet for a clarification, but they wouldn't respond.
However, a couple of readers pointed out that the commercials were in
fact referring to one million Texans wearing 10-gallon hats. Sorry we
missed the joke. But we stand by our point that the Chevy Suburban
gets really pathetic gas mileage, as you can see from a visit to the
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(Thursday the 27th, 8:30pm):
David Bench, sirbench@hotmail
Every Thursday during the summer,
Waterloo Cycles hosts Bike-In Theatre -- movies and shorts projected
onto the side of the building. Tonight's lineup is:
(2:00 am Sat. night, aka Sun. morn.):
This is a huge, unofficial annual
ride attracting hundreds of cyclists, and it's been happening since
1983 (according to the fliers). It typically attracts 300-1000
cyclists. It used to meet at Palmer Auditorium, but for 2001 it was
set to meet at the new Lamar Bike/Pedestrian Bridge.
Remember that a headlight and rear
reflector or light is required by State law (and it's crazy to ride
at night without lights anyway).
Bridge, Lamar at the River, 9-29 night (9-30 morning),
Researchers need cyclists to
complete an online survey about their cycling habits. Here's a
to the survey.
"Has anyone else had the
experience recently of having a motorist (for some reason,
particularly SUV drivers) honk at you for no apparent reason? I
mean, you didn't break any traffic laws, you're not even in their
way, you didn't cut them off or interact with them in any way and
they're still honking at you? A couple of weeks ago some guy in a
black SUV honked at me near the intersection of Speedway and 43rd.
When I caught up to him at 43rd and Duval I pulled up along side
intending to ask him why exactly he had honked at me and noticed
that he already had a handgun lying on the passenger side seat,
perhaps in preparation for some kind of confrontation. I decided
not ask, since I was already late for work and having to break his
neck in order to avoid getting shot would make me even later."
-- Patrick Goetz
"When motorists honk at
me, I wave and grin like it's a long lost friend that I haven't
seen for years. The more they honk the more vigorous the wave.
That way you defeat their purpose of trying to intimidate you, and
every once in a while you will give rise to a pang of conscience
on their part. This also keeps you from flipping off friends
accidentally." -- Michael Zakes of Waterloo
Ross, from Humidity, May 2000, as republished on Cycle
Messengers for World Domination
- Between the road construction,
the recent weather and the new stadium, Houston traffic is
starting to look like New York. On a couple of recent evenings
it's been so gridlocked I had to get on the sidewalk just to get
through. And what's with the honking? All these people sitting in
their cars seem amazingly angry about it.
- What could they possible have
to angry about? They're sitting in a plush, leather armchair, a
kickass stereo within reach, thick pile carpeting under their feet
and a lot of them have a cold beer at their elbow. Sounds pretty
comfy, especially when I'm outside getting soaked and blown around
and hailed on in a "20% chance of thunderstorm(s)". I mean, it
seems like they could be pretty relaxed, like sitting at home in
your living room, so why the honking?
- I think it's because they're
angry. Not just summer electric bill angry or even got a speeding
ticket angry. We're talking deep-seated, all the way to the soul,
pissed off. Why? Because their entire value system, the basis of
their strongest held beliefs, the foundations of their entire life
are being shaken, and they are scared.
- When Mr. Honker was very young,
about five or six, his dad took him over to the neighbours' to
admire the neighbours' new car. Can you smell the new? Pop thought
it was a great thing to have a new car and so it must be good.
About the time Mr. Honker was 14, he started collecting car
magazines and advertisements, picking out what kind of car he
wanted and trying to match it with his self-image. A sports car, a
pickup truck, a Mercedes? What car would best show the world his
personality? When he was older, he went to the car dealer and
signed the papers and agreed to give GMAC a quarter of his income
for five years and drove away in a new, shiny machine. And after
60 easy monthly payments, it was dirty and rusty and didn't work
very well any more. But during the evening news, there was an
advertisement for a new one. This one offered driving excitement,
performance for type-A people, the biggest in its class. So he
went back to the dealer and agreed to give up another quarter of
- He's done this a couple of
times but he has an empty feeling deep in his stomach. He is
starting to realize he's been lied to. He spent all that money and
bought this thing and it didn't change his life. He's still
working in a cubicle, playing golf on the public course and can't
afford season tickets. When he saw the TV ad for this car it was
pulling up to a great restaurant with valet parking. It was full
of beautiful people. Didn't they promise if he bought the car, he
would become rich and well-endowed? They lied! Everybody's been
lying, even Pop! It didn't work, something is wrong!
- And then some courier scum
flies by his gridlocked car, on a damned BICYCLE! How much did
that damned thing cost? 200 dollars? Spent 40 grand on this truck
and some damn kid on a bicycle flies by, like he has some special
right or something. Make him get back here, make him wait on the
traffic with me, how dare he, he's not even making
by Corvus Corvax |
as posted on alt.mountain-bike, 9-11-01
- My wife is running a little
late for work this morning. She gets her messenger bag together
and heads out the door with her bike. "Ride safe," I say, and go
back to reading the paper. I have a light breakfast and decide on
a morning ride. I'm still feeling a little wonky from the century,
so something strenuous like the Palisades doesn't appeal. A nice,
easy ride is the ticket. I'll just head down to the World Trade
Center. It's a gorgeous, calm morning.
- I bike uptown to the top of the
Hudson River Path at 125th Street. Just as I cross from the street
to the path, a police emergency van screams by, headed onto the
Hudson Parkway. I figure it's another accident on the Parkway,
looks like a bad one. I can see the helicopters hovering further
downtown. As I ride downtown I wonder why there's no traffic to
speak of on the Parkway. If there's an accident, it should be
backed up all the way to Westchester by now. Funny.
- It isn't until around 72nd
Street that I hear the news. A green Parks Department pickup truck
sits with its doors open and the radio playing the news. I ride by
and do a double-take, turn back and get the news from bystanders
that the WTC has been hit by a plane. I look up and for the first
time see the plume of smoke over downtown. Oh, fuck. My wife is
- Irrationally, I hop on the bike
and barrel downtown, trying to work out the timing in my head. Her
commute takes her directly beneath the towers. It would have been
close. My cell phone is out, and I can only assume the whole phone
grid is down. (I am wrong about this.) I try to stay calm, not do
something stupid and get hit by a garbage truck or something.
Ambulances and fire trucks are pouring down the West Side Highway,
and I begin to see the refugees from the financial district
walking uptown on the bike path. I have a clear view of the
burning towers as I fly by Chelsea Pier.
- I don't even really know what
I'm doing. I figure maybe I can get further downtown then cut
across town and down to the east end of Wall Street, where my
wife's office is. If she made it to work, she'll be fine. I want
to see her. I am also driven by a morbid fascination at the sight
of the towers in flames ahead of me, growing larger in the sky
with each block I ride. Nobody stops me. There are no police.
Nobody tells me to turn around. The crowd thickens and my pace
slows to a crawl through the mob headed uptown. Why am I headed
downtown? I don't know. Still nobody stops me. Finally, it is
clear that it is suicide to continue. I am on the riverbank less
than a half mile from the towers, burning serenely
- So I stop. I sit on my bike,
and try to reach my wife with the cell. I finally get through, but
all I get is her voicemail. I leave a message. The scale of the
disaster is so huge that it looks almost calm. I can clearly see
the fires throughout the top floors of the North Tower. The South
Tower, partially obscured behind the North, is clearly more
heavily damaged. Occasional small explosions hit, tiny puffs of
orange and black which must be huge given the scale. Debris swirls
and corkscrews down through the air like paper. A police
helicopter flies precariously close to the top of the North Tower,
nearly touching the roof. F-15 fighters are buzzing downtown like
something out of King Kong.
- Then a huge grey ball erupts in
the top third of the South Tower, and then the building disappears
completely, drops from the sky. The sound of the tower as it
collapses is a quiet, gentle whoosh, like snow falling from a
roof. The smoke billows out barely two blocks from where I am
standing. I watch, transfixed. It is horrible and almost
- But it is not beautiful, and I
leave when they start to jump from the North Tower. I watch four
or five of them go in quick succession, falling not at all like
the debris. My stomach knots, and I return to the world and ride
north, shaking. The bike path is impassable, so I hit the streets
and wind through trucks and pedestrians and emergency vehicles up
Greenwich Street. I hear a gasp from the crowd on the street, and
then that soft sound of snow falling from the roof again. The
North Tower has gone.
- I ride to 14th, then over to
10th Avenue and up the west side. Once I hit midtown, I am the
only thing moving. Traffic is at a dead stop. I swerve through the
useless metal. I break my neck for home. I still don't know where
my wife is.
- When I get home, I find she has
left me an email. She made it to work okay. She rode under the
towers barely fifteen minutes before the planes hit. I am tense
and distraught during the hours until she arrives home, her bike
covered in ash. The smoke was so thick that she had to ride with a
wet towel over her mouth. Thank God she had her bike, or she'd
still be out there somewhere.
- We're okay, me and my warm,
beautiful alive wife.
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