Interview with the Head of U.C.A.S. (Urban Cyclists Against Stopping)

Let’s begin with an explanation of who you are.

Sure thing. I’m the head of an organization called Urban Cyclists Against Stopping, or U.C.A.S. We maintain that it is the unalienable right of every New York City cyclist, in the course of riding from point A to point B, not to stop.

But what if you’re up against a red light? Will you stop?

No.

What if a pedestrian has the right of way? Will you stop?

No.

What if a small child, clutching her caregiver’s hand, is directly in your path? Will you stop?

No.

What if a leashed dog is stepping off the curb slightly ahead of its owner as the “Don’t Walk” signal flashes? Will you stop?

No.

That could take a toe off the dog!

Dogs have an unnecessary outer toe on each foot. It’s known as a dewclaw. It’s vestigial. Rover won’t miss it.

What if you’re pedalling northbound, and just as your traffic signal is turning from red to green an eastbound elderly woman pushing a wire shopping cart hasn’t quite made it to the sidewalk? Will you stop?

No.

You won’t cut her any slack?

No. If I hit her, that’s on her. You chose to shop while old, lady. I’m a cyclist. I can’t stop.

That’s ruthless.

That’s U.C.A.S. Anyway, I’m more likely to whiz past her, just close enough to startle her out of her shoes, while shouting an obscenity in her direction.

What if a city bus is making the same left turn as you, and—in the slow, ungainly way of a city bus—it’s taking up most of the street space and making it advisable for you simply to stop and wait? Will you stop?

No.

What will you do?

I will impatiently swerve back and forth on the little patch of asphalt not occupied by the bus. Once I’m in the clear, I will charge past the bus, shouting an obscenity in the driver’s direction. Alternately, I’ll hop the curb and ride on the sidewalk.

You’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk.

That’s your opinion.

It’s the law.

This is New York City, baby. U.C.A.S. doesn’t do “the law.”

Look, I have some sympathy. A lot of cyclists are delivery people who earn very little, face dangerous street conditions, and are under pressure to make their deliveries as quickly as possible. I usually give them a pass with regard to running red lights and riding on the sidewalk. But what about the rest of you? Why can’t you simply apply the brakes when the light turns red?

Because we can’t.

That’s not a serious answer. What would happen if you stopped?

We . . . we would die.

I don’t believe you.

You’re clearly not an urban cyclist against stopping. The stakes are that high for us.

Isn’t the truth that you simply dislike stopping because it’s a minor hassle to bring your legs to a standstill at a red light and then reactivate them when the light turns green?

Have you heard what you’ve just described? It’s a kind of death.

Oh, come on. Automobile drivers stop at red lights all the time.

And people stab one another with knives, but you never hear congressmen calling for knife control.

That doesn’t even make sense as a retort.

You know what doesn’t make sense? Stopping when you’re on a bike.

All I’m saying is that urban cycling has made great strides in recent years, what with the Citi Bike program and the establishment of dedicated bike lanes by the former transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Wouldn’t the correct response be to celebrate your good fortune by doing your civic bit for the city? Wouldn’t it—

Your question is taking too long. Let me stop you right there.

You interrupted me!

I rest my case. ♦

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