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news selection 20180618, cycling in the city

June 19, 2018

Weekend in the city. Did something I’ve never done, rode a bicycle around in midtown traffic for what ended up being a couple of hours. Seems like the addition of “city-bikes” has encouraged a new generation of riders to come out – it’s good to see.

And there are bike lanes now. The lanes on the avenues are protected by a row of parking spots, which they wisely placed between the bike lane and the main traffic. So riding north-south is actually fairly pleasant if you stay out of the mid-day heat. The east-west side streets have a narrower lanes that generally get no respect from traffic. I.e., cars simply enter the bike lane without a second thought, any time there is an obstruction such as a double-parked vehicle. But the single-lane traffic of side streets is pretty easy to manage. Riding along with traffic on the avenues is treacherous but strangely fun. Like swimming with the fishes.

Add in a sea of people, potholes, other cyclists, the aforementioned double-parked cars, fear of being “doored” on the side streets, and the odd forklift, hydraulic lift-gate, cyclists coming the opposite way at you in a lane not quite wide enough for two, and the occasional crazy driver or police car to surprise you — it was a nice experience 🙂    Not recommended for long term health tho.  Soundrack: none. I figured I’d need all my senses, and didn’t want anything to speed me up even more. At one point this lady on a city-bike, like 50 years old, passes me and several delivery guys, going a million miles an hour with no helmet. Of course I decide to follow her. Just zipping around everything, taking these tight blind cuts around double parked trucks (and into traffic) with no fear. I gave up after about a mile. The opposite end of the spectrum, in the park on the way home. All these tourists on beautiful yellow mountain bike rentals, group of young riders with great healthy bodies, making no effort at all and giving up at the smallest hill. And believe me, I’m really not a cyclist – more than like an hour and my butt says ‘get off this thing’. Anyway I think I was pretty wound up at that point. Crazy to think that’s the only tiny little piece of kindof-sortof-nature in manhattan, but it’s so precious and wonderful. Take away the motor vehicles – but with just as dense a packing of people as on a street, really – and you get peace.


Ok there’s a lot going on in this summer heat. Here we go

China:

Escalating…

Tarriffs by US and 1st round of retaliation by China become a reality – https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-16/next-move-is-trump-s-after-china-hits-back-in-trade-war-opener

Senate blocks Trump’s “deal” to spare Chinese cel phone equipment/infrastructure supplier ZTE. As reported before here. The ZTE story is considered part of the “anti-Iran” package, and thus bipartisan support for punishing ZTE on that basis, trumping more general commercial imperatives. Note that this is going into the Defense Appropriations bill, which will pass. However, it is still not final, as the different Senate and House versions of the bill will go thru reconciliation –  https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/18/senate-rejects-trumps-rescue-of-chinese-firm-zte-652459

And, Trump (backed by US trade representative) announces intent to retaliate against China’s retaliation against his Tarriffs. Raising the stakes – https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-seeks-additional-200-billion-in-tariffs-against-china-and-threatens-even-more-2018-06-18

Ranked Choice Voting in the USA:

In contrast, we have some great news from Maine, the first state with RCV. After passing the ballot initiative in the 2016 election, then having the state legislature shut it down, voters again directly voiced their support for RCV, overriding their own politicians who are opposed to it for fear of having the Democrat-Republican duopoly loosened.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/maine-lepage-ranked-choice-voting/562871/

Gig Economy:

Much talk of the gig economy, of which I’m a part (great pay! double the taxes! flexible hours! no benefits!) – Apparently, it’s actually not really growing that much?

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/06/precarity-american-workplace-gig-economy


Food-related Postscript – if you’re in a Fairway ($$$ supermarket), and if you’re cool with lactose, go to their little side-cafe and get the blueberry yogurt granola swirl thing. An overflowing pint of goodness. Absolutely delicious, like a dessert but healthy. And unlike anything similarly sized and priced at starbucks, flavor isn’t dominated by refined sugar (RIP, real coffeeshops of NYC.)

 

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