-Is it really a faux pas, when jogging, not to nod hello to fellow joggers? As in, not people you know, just other people who also happen to jog on the same path? Writes Matt Kurton:
If you see someone running towards you, as long as they haven't recently committed a robbery or escaped from prison, nod a quick hello. Enjoy a fleeting moment of shared humanity. Acknowledge each other's travails. Cyclists manage it without any bother, but in many places runners respond to a smile with an irritated frown, or by pretending not to notice. Come on people, share a little love. What's the harm?I read this, had not yet seen the byline, but immediately realized this just had to have been written by a man. Women - young women especially - are not always such fans of being told to smile. Kurton's advice, though gender-neutral, would, if directed at a woman, seem of a piece with the broader message that women owe male passersby their loveliest selves.
My point isn't that the author wants women to especially to smile at him, but that he's missing why women might not go for this advice. Although the another of the author's "commandments" - that men need to wear shirts while jogging - might make readers suspect heterosexuality. (I have never known straight women or gay men to complain about this phenomenon. Straight men, however...) I mean, maybe he does want smiles from women in particular, maybe he doesn't, but that's not the issue.
Also! When a woman is jogging and a man passes her by and grins at her, she can't know what kind of grin it is, and what sort of response smiling back would inspire. We live in a world where consensual romances often begin with smiles of that nature, esp. when everyone involved (men as well as women) is scantily-clad, sweaty, and in a remote locale, so a really efficient way to demonstrate not interested, just to be on the safe side. I know that sometimes a phrase like "rape culture" is over- or misused, but this seems like a case where it's rather literally applicable. When I'm jogging, I acknowledge passersby if I know them, which I often enough do, but otherwise? I'm hoping they're not ax murderers. But then again, I grew up in pre-Giuliani New York.
-It is obvious very wrong-side-of-history to question the new NYC bike-share program. Not living in the city, I'm not too worked up about it either way, but I do have one question about it, which is what it's supposed to do. Normally, as I understand it, the idea with bike-sharing, and bike-encouragement more generally, is that bikes replace cars. People who would drive everywhere will now only drive to the big supermarket on the edge of town. Which makes sense in a Philadelphia or a Heidelberg - a city where you don't necessarily need a car, but you probably have one. Biking is better for the environment, and gets some exercise in. All things equal, I am pro-biking, and I probably do now know how to drive well enough that I can no longer justify driving to town (to avoid those two big hills) as "practice."
In New York, though, certainly in the areas where these stands are appearing, is biking replacing driving? I can't imagine it would be. It seems unlikely to replace subway-riding, nor should it - the ability to get from one part of the city to another relatively quickly, relatively safely, at all hours, is one of the best things about the place. And you will still get some exercise, what with all the stairs, and the long platforms.
Will it replace taxis? Not for the stiletto contingent and its male equivalent. Walking? Perhaps, but that's just fine for the environment and arguably better for you, and given NYC traffic, newish bike riders may find walking is quicker. It's definitely not replacing the driving wealthy New Yorkers do on weekends, to get to their second (or tenth) homes.
Buses are the only plausible transportation biking would replace, crosstown especially. But as anyone who's ever been on one of those buses knows, the people on them are not people about to switch to bikes: families or caregivers with young children, the not-so-mobile who require a bus to get from 7th Avenue to 8th, etc.
Am I missing something? Is the Manhattan depicted on "Seinfeld," where everyone middle-class drives everywhere, actually the real deal, and my 10,000 years experience of the place some kind of mirage?