As the author of a book (it's called Bike Snob
, and it includes drawings and stickers, which is a hell of a lot more than you can say about anything by Cormac McCarthy), I'm fortunate enough that people actually want to interview me. Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that my publisher, Chronicle, cajoles them into interviewing me. Nevertheless, I've been going on the radio a lot, and I've been answering questions.
Inevitably, in the course of these interviews, some variation of the "Drivers Vs. Cyclists" debate arises. Despite the fact that both vehicles are undeniably useful and are indeed quite compatible and complementary, most people seem unable to conceive of a world in which cars and bicycles coexist peacefully. My thoughts as to why this is go beyond the purview of this blog, but the short version is that such people are idiots.
But while people cannot embrace something as fundamental and practical as shared roads and instead tend to ally themselves with a single form of transportation with the tenacity of religious fundamentalists, they are more than willing to accommodate the most hideous and useless hybrid abominations. This is because, as human beings, we are parochial when it comes to sharing, but we are ecumenical when it comes to buying. We want it all, even if it costs us everything. One example of this is the "crossover vehicle:"
What does "The exquisite luxury of you" even mean? It sounds like something you'd say about underwear. In any case, the roads are increasingly full of these collagen-impregnated blobs that have managed to blend sports cars, sedans, trucks, hatchbacks, and station wagons without really offering the advantages of any of them. Mostly, they're just regular cars, only considerably more bulbous. It's like the auto makers have unilaterally decided to "trim the fat" from all their past designs, only instead of discarding it they're using it to make a new type of car constructed entirely of blubber. It's basically vehicular "fat grafting."
An even more disturbing embodiment of our tendency to use only the flabby parts of the buffalo is the sandal boot, or boot sandal. Here's a pair I spotted while waiting at a red light recently:
These started to appear on the streets a few years ago. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing then, and I'm amazed to find they're still in use. Presumably, in some shoe laboratory somewhere, a scientist yearned for a breakthrough, but realized it had all been done: loafers; pumps; captoe oxfords; stilettos; galoshes; boat shoes; waders; spiked golf shoes; outdoor soccer shoes; indoor soccer shoes; cycling cleats; climbing shoes; aqua socks; those creepy split-toe sneakers that give you a "foot wedgie"; clearly every single conceivable form of footwear had already been invented, every need and whim more than adequately addressed. So, he decided that his fortune lay not in creation but in destruction, and he set about devising a summer shoe that would render the foot hot and funky like it would be in a boot, yet bare and vulnerable like it would be in a sandal. Clearly, he succeeded. Pure evil, the sandal boot is a single type of shoe that negates and invalidates two other types at once. Such was the peculiar and diabolical nature of his genius.
In my nightmare, I ride down a vast urban boulevard. Crossover vehicles line the curbside. John Mayer is singing "The Exquisite Luxury of You," over and over in his skin-crawlingly breathy style. Suddenly, the doors of the vehicles all open simultaneously, and a thousand sandal-booted ankles emerge. I awake in horror, both my feet bathed in a cold sweat.