I am somewhat happy that about 80% of my commute to work can be done on a shared pathway in a public park. The benefit is that there is no motor vehicle traffic in the park, the downside is the erratic behavior of many of the people that utilize the park. Although biking around motor vehicles has its downsides, for the most part motor vehicle drivers are predictable. A klutzy roller blader can be just as dangerous to a cyclist as a taxi if you ask me. If there is one shared quality about park users in NYC, it is that they are unpredictable.
More on that in a bit but first of all here is a picture of a sign I stumbled across a few weeks ago when entering the Hudson River Greenway at 95th street.
Happy thoughts began to enter my head when I saw this sign (sorry smokers, not a big fan of that habit) but in my desire to see NYC as a more bike friendly place my thoughts immediately turned to how wonderful it would be if the city decided to ban motor vehicle traffic from Central Park rather than focus on banning cigarette smoking on the Hudson River Greenway.
The funny thing about the sign in the picture is that it looks like it was printed on one of those inkjet printers that can be purchased for $49.99 with a $50.00 rebate and requires cartridge refills that cost more than you paid for the printer. Printer ink sales to me is one of the true rackets of this age. The sign is also zip tied haphazardly to the metal barrier.
One day after I saw the sign it was gone and clipped zip ties were on the ground where it had been hanging. It is obvious, at least to me, that a literate and agitated smoker went all pocket knife on the sign and probably had to strike up a cancer stick immediately afterward to seek relaxation.
I also have more solid evidence that the sign in question was a "rogue" sign because someone obviously was able to read it, leading to its ultimate demise. Not all signs in NYC are legible to everyone. In fact, New York City officials have designed a series of signs that you have to be riding a bike to be able to read. Mysterious you ask? Let me explain. First, check this sign out -
You are likely confused by this sign as you are not presently riding a bike, but rather reading this blog. So let me translate. It states, "Dogs on Leash Only."
What leads me to the conclusion that you have to be on a bike to read it? Well, several dogs in this public "shared" space where this sign is clearly visible have come close to beheading themselves in my spokes while running around wildly without a leash. The park is also inhabited by squirrels and dogs are famous for wildly chasing squirrels.
Related to this, I recently saw the movie Up and laughed very hard at the how easily the dogs in the movie became distracted by the thought of a squirrel. If you have not seen the movie do not view the clip below because it will take away the real time enjoyment, but if you have watched the film enjoy again!
The best part of a dog coming ever so close to injuring itself and me comes when the enraged owner then yells at me, "HEY YOU IDIOT, SLOW DOWN!!!!" With the number of dogs off leashes in the Hudson River Greenway I would not get to work until well after Noon if I slowed my speed any further.
I hardly think I am an idiot, a nerd or dork definitely, but to be an idiot I would have to recklessly endanger others around me in a public shared space, say by acting like an irresponsible and selfish dog owner that lets their dog run wild when people around are jogging, walking, roller blading, cuddling, etc.
In my many years on the planet I have learned that there is no real use in engaging an enraged stranger that is illogically yelling at you, but in my head I say, "Hello anonymous irresponsible person. Did you know that if you put your dog on a leash that you could possibly save harm to your animal and to strangers? The only one not in danger by your selfish and irresponsible behavior is you." If I said this out loud it would only enrage the animal keeper further so I just ride on in silence.
Further evidence that particular signs require you to be on a bike for them to be readable include this one -
Again I will translate because you are likely not riding your bike right now. Although it appears to be somewhat short, it actually says -
Attention dog owners - We have purposely created a safe place for your dog to run around wildly where it will not endanger itself or other people riding bikes, roller blading, etc. Please use the dog run instead of letting your dog, who cannot think in a logical fashion in a space shared by others, including a large squirrel population, off of a leash.
Again it is obvious that dog owners cannot read the signs because they are in plain sight day, after day, after day - unlike the smoking sign which was gone after one day. Oh if I could only come up with a special decoder ring for dog owners. But if they could read the sings they would only likely tear them down.
I have thought to myself that one day I will take my bike into the dog run and start riding wildly around. It is a nice thought, however then I would be torturing the few dog owners that have obviously found a decoder ring and understand what the signs say.
And as proof of how dangerous it can be to have a dog off a leash in public shared space where there are squirrels, check out how dangerous it is to have a dog ON a leash when there are squirrels around =)
The intelligence of dog owners must be brought into question because one of the owners seems to encourage the dog to go after the squirrel, even though the dog is on a leash. What did they expect would happen when Maddie was encouraged to "go get it." Forethought does not seem to be the forte of many dog owners.
Are you frustrated by people that cannot read? Lets hear it in comments.