Suppose You Were A Terrorist. And Suppose You Were A Bicyclist. But I Repeat Myself…

(With apologies to Mark Twain.)

As unlikely as it seems, Jess Zimmerman of Grist points to a story by New York’s CBS 2:

This is not even the first time that someone in New York City has compared cyclists to terrorists, but it might be the dumbest: New York’s CBS 2 is concerned that bike lanes will facilitate acts of terror.

A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.

All right, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of the mainstream broadcast media…

AFTERTHOUGHT directed at those of you who are not cyclists on major city streets: If you are bicycling down a city street, properly riding with rather than against the auto traffic, in a bike lane if there is one or out a few feet from the curb if not (the last thing a cyclist should attempt is riding in the gutter), you have far, far more to worry about than the equivalent of tossing a newspaper or a bomb at an embassy. You are worried about keeping your bike upright. You are deathly worried about staying out of the way of the occasional downright hostile car or larger vehicle. (Yes, some of them will aim directly at you; one time I almost left this world under the wheels of a Houston city bus.) You are worried about a tossed water-balloon. (Yes, that, too, has happened to me, and fortunately it did not knock me over.)

If you are intent on delivering a bomb to an embassy, I am here to assure you that riding a bike past that embassy is the most dangerous and least likely effective way to do it… you’d might as well just walk up to the door, and you know you wouldn’t get away with that. I know NYC has a history of bicycle couriers especially in the financial district; I don’t know if they’re still doing that… but it is not a task for the faint of heart or for the first-timer. And it is certainly not a task for a terrorist… the only terror in that process is the abject terror felt by the bike rider.

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  • Bryan  On Saturday July 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    If you paused to pitch a bomb from a bike in NYC, you would get run over by a messenger. You couldn’t arch it over the pedestrians without ending up as a stain on the sidewalk.

    They, in fact, provide an extra margin of safety from the real threats that have been seen in NYC, vehicle bombs.

    This is all about people in limos not wanting to take a few extra steps, and not being able to park illegally at the curb.

    • Steve  On Saturday July 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

      Bryan, slightly OT, speaking of limos, I happened to go through the Philadelphia airport in about 1978, coming from New York on my way home from a tour, when a stretch limo pulled through the terminal archway and… stalled. Yes, stalled. Out stepped the late great Luciano Pavarotti, sweltering in the heat (poor fellow; he wasn’t built to take heat) and wandered around with a couple of other opera stars while the driver tried several times to restart the limo. Our bus pulled away before I saw the conclusion of the incident.

      For all the hundreds of times I rode my bicycle on “real” city streets, I always hated doing so, and feared for my life. If I recover medically today to the point of being able to pedal even the clunkiest heavy bike, it won’t be on a busy thoroughfare, I can assure you. I could probably make it to the library at the corner; that’s less than two blocks on our residential street.

      But from my healthy years of cycling experience, I am convinced that a bicycle would be a very, very stupid way to try to deliver a bomb. “Stain on the sidewalk” probably about describes it, though I tried hard not to ride on sidewalks.

  • MandT  On Sunday July 10, 2011 at 12:23 am

    This country has gone f’ing insane.

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