Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hellion Wheels

I have started again to commute by bicycle, and this is a wonderful, even joyous thing, better than it ever has been because the city's greenways have improved to the point where most of my ride is free of oil-burning traffic. While not quite as advertised, it is a pleasure to be able to ride relatively free of the fear of being plowed-down by a city bus or sideswiped by a meth-addled cabbie.

Only one danger remains on the greenways: rollerbladers.

I have no objection to rollerblades per se, and no interest at all in any cyclist vs. rollerblader disputes. It's obvious that there are as many careless and selfish and just plain dangerous people on bicycles as there are on rollerblades.
My problem with rollerblades is that — with the exception of a coterie of shirtless men in the vicinity of Chelsea Piers — no one seems to know how to operate the things. I've seen deeply stupid people on bicycles, but never any who are unable to slow, stop, accelerate, or turn, while virtually everyone I encounter on rollerblades appears to have the motor coordination of an overgrown, drunken toddler.
Often, it seems that Curly Howard himself is hurtling towards me, arms flailing. Put a group of them together and it is Brownian motion on the Hudson.

Yesterday, riding north through Tribeca, I spotted a rollerblader ahead and prepared to take evasive action, for not only was this man on rollerblades, but he was also pushing a large cart, the sort used to move plants and shrubs around a nursery. He must have been confused about the applicable definition of "nursery," as he had his twin girls of about three years-old in the cart — unsecured, needless to say. I tried to banish those three little words from my mind (Stupid. Fucking. Yuppie.) and thought instead about what fatherhood will be like for me. Will I then ever have the luxury of four-hour bicycle rides? Will I be a Stupid Fucking Yuppie running with one of those jogging-strollers in front of me? What I know for certain is that I will not be on rollerblades, and just as I reaffirmed this to myself I watched S.F.Y. lose control of his own body and by extension his cart and his offspring. S.F.Y. wobbled, fell. His girls careened into a stone wall. Luckily, the cart wheels had a very high rolling resistance and the girls were barely puttering along at the point of impact. Tears, but no injuries.

Ahead, their mother, also on rollerblades, heard her children in distress. She turned. And fell.


Blogger bentley92 said...

Enjoyed the story. I have a bike path near my house. It sounds like all of the people that know how to roller blade come to my bike path. They are the ones flying by the families on bikes screaming “ON YOUR LEFT”!

3:04 PM  
Blogger Mr. H.K. said...

I tried walking along the Hudson recently and was nearly skated over... So, I can relate...

Mr. H.K.
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
And I Quote Blog

9:22 PM  

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