Rich Galen

  • Bicycles are making a comeback as a potential mechanism to solve the oil crisis. Put everyone on a bike, the adherents say, and we will be healthier (because of being in better shape); wealthier (because bicycles use very little gasoline); and wiser because … I'm not sure why, but we will be.

  • As I might have mentioned once or twice, I live in a section of Alexandria, Virginia known as "Old Town." The street I live on is next to the Potomac river and, for a little over a mile, also doubles as the bike path which runs from Mount Vernon in the south to the Key Bridge (across the Potomac from Georgetown) in the north, which means … many bikes on my street.

  • I don't mind the bicycles. I mind the bicycle riders.

  • They have a sense of virtue bordering on holy righteousness because they are pedaling a 35-pound bike instead of driving a two-ton SUV. Ok. Fair enough. You are doing your bit for the world and I applaud you.

  • Bike riders want to have all the rights, privileges and protections of a motor vehicle on the road, but, at least coming through Old Town, they routinely ignore the sorts of things most of us in cars - or on 50cc motor scooters - take pretty seriously such as: stop signs, traffic lights, one-way streets, and the fact that there is a reason sidewalks are named that; it is because they are for WALKING not for biking.

  • One of the major intersections in Old Town is where Union Street - which runs parallel to the Potomac River - intersects with King Street. On a summer's eve it can take five minutes or more to get through that intersection in a car because there is a four-way stop sign and the pedestrians have the right-of-way.

  • Not for bike riders.

  • It is not at all unusual for riders to whip past the waiting cars and charge through the intersection, ignoring the stop signs and making pedestrians jump out of their way.

  • I have been known to chase these vehicular villains to discuss with them the whole stop sign thing which almost always degenerates into unbelievably childish name-calling, punctuated with unbelievably adult finger gestures.

  • Another thing about bike riders is they come into Starbucks wearing their bike outfits. I think they think we will be in awe of their attention to fitness. I - and I suspect many others like me - would much prefer they pay a little attention to fashion.

  • If the regular police will not make them obey traffic laws, perhaps we should employ the fashion police to demand that they not be permitted to wear a spandex outfit which was designed for Lance Armstrong around a body which was designed for Ethel Merman.

  • There ought to be a category series for bicyclists' spandex wardrobe malfunctions.

  • If one of those babies lets go as a category V, it could take out several blocks of riverfront property and cause the city clean-up crews to spend weeks picking up shards of polyurethane (from which spandex is made) and finding Starbucks wooden stirrers stuck into trees like darts in an Irish pub.

  • Then there are bike messengers who, I believe, have to take a weirdness test. If they don't look like at waiter at TGI Friday's on LSD then they can't have the job.

  • I have a bike. It is in the garage, right where I can hop right on it and ride it to work and save money and get healthy.

  • If the tires aren't flat. And the chain hasn't rusted completely. And the brakes still work.

  • And if I can find my spandex biking shorts.

  • On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the International Herald Tribune article which got me thinking about this, a link to a "history of the bicycle" web page, a link to the Wikipedia entry on spandex, a Mullfoto showing my actual bike in my actual garage poised and ready for action, and a pretty clever Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Rich Galen

    Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.