Categories
bikes california new york san francisco

Why does cycling in SF suck more now than in 1994?

Cycling seems more dan­ger­ous, more has­sle-filled, and gen­er­al­ly more aggro than when I moved here. Why? Maybe it's me. I moved to Berke­ley recent­ly, and I'm pret­ty close to hav­ing a lawn that I can tell kids to get off of. Maybe it's that the city has changed a lot. There are more cyclists, more peo­ple in gen­er­al (60,000!) and more den­si­ty, espe­cial­ly down­town. On the oth­er hand, there are more bike lanes and sig­nage, and there's more bike aware­ness among the pedes­tri­an and motorist pop­u­la­tions. You'd think that more cyclists + more cycling aware­ness + more cycling accom­mo­da­tion would have result­ed in some kind of net improve­ment, but it hasn't. Pedes­tri­ans seem more antag­o­nis­tic to bikes; motorists of all types are much more antag­o­nis­tic; and some of my fel­low cyclists seem to be the most antag­o­nis­tic of all. Why?Felix Salmon has writ­ten a real­ly inter­est­ing, and wide­ly quot­ed, "uni­fied the­o­ry" of cycling that touch­es on what I think is the heart of it all: That most cyclists think they're pedes­tri­ans, when we're actu­al­ly more like motorists.

Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedes­tri­ans. They should ride on the road, not the side­walk. They should stop at lights, and pedes­tri­ans should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And — of course, duh — they should ride in the right direc­tion on one-way streets. None of this is a ques­tion of being polite; it's the law. But in stark con­trast to motorists, near­ly all of whom fol­low near­ly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strict­ly option­al. They're still in the human-pow­ered mind­set of pedes­tri­ans, who feel pret­ty much com­plete­ly uncon­strained by rules.

I real­ly agree with this. I don't know how to make it so, and I'm real­ly not a law-and-order type. But I think that agree­ing to fol­low the rules of the road would do a lot to make us all more pre­dictable. Also, I'd like to add: Pass on the freakin left.

Categories
food new york

Beefsteak!

Even though I'm gen­er­al­ly a West Coast kind of guy, I devour books about New York — its chaot­ic begin­nings as a law­less, crazy quilt of neigh­bor­hoods and gangs; its trans­for­ma­tion into a mas­sive mod­ern city; the pecu­liar dynam­ics of its organ­ic growth. If New York didn't destroy me every­time I vis­it, I think I'd prob­a­bly live there.A few weeks ago, the New Yorker's Twit­ter stream point­ed me to an excel­lent Joseph Mitchell essay about a (most­ly) van­ished New York tra­di­tion, the beef­steak. Mitchell laid out the basics in his clas­sic 1939 essay, "All You Can Hold For Five Bucks:"

The foun­da­tion of a good beef­steak is an over­flow­ing amount of meat and beer. The tick­ets usu­al­ly cost five bucks, and the rule is "All you can hold for five bucks." If you're able to hold a lit­tle more when you start home, you haven't been to a beef­steak, you've been to a ban­quet that they called a beef­steak. From Up in the Old Hotel, an amaz­ing col­lec­tion of Mitchell's New York­er essays

We've missed out on the beefsteak's prime, so to speak, but the Bea­con Restau­rant start­ed a new tra­di­tion 10 years ago. The New York Sun's account of the 2004 edi­tion includes cours­es very much like those Mitchell describes — tiny ham­burg­ers, bacon-wrapped lamb kid­neys, dou­ble-thick lamb chops, and of course steak — "huge roast­ed Cer­ti­fied Angus shell loins that had been cut into thick slabs and doused with melt­ed but­ter."This year's beef­steak is in Feb­ru­ary. I'm intrigued, though I'm sure it will destroy me.