I once read that in New York City, although the drivers hate the pedestrians, and the pedestrians hate the drivers, it’s safe to say that everyone hates cyclists.
New York is quite a cutthroat kind of town. No matter the vehicle, wheels or feet, we all believe we own the pavement we are currently standing on.
A few months ago, there was a league of artists who painted a white line down Fifth Avenue that divided the sidewalk. One on side, the concrete was labeled “New Yorkers,” and on the other side, “Tourists.” And, if you don’t know what that refers to, the battle of sidewalk ownership that wages on day in and day out, “fahgettaboutit,”—you’d be on the ground before figuring it out.
It’s also quite ironic that although New Yorkers have a sixth sense for zeroing in on slow walkers (I personally have a infrared vision for those with wheelie briefcases) we sometimes have brownouts with our ability to observe what’s right in front of us while we are in our rush to get from point A to B.
For one, has anyone noticed how it’s not even the tourists who we should be annoyed at? Lately, my eyes have finally opened. Lower to the ground and a little less conspicuous are the worst offenders: the pigeons.
As another vague reference from something I found entertaining but fail to remember who to quote, I once watched a comedy special in which the young female stand-up said something like, “I think New York is the only city in which I actually fear that garbage will fly into my mouth.”
I don’t fear garbage, but rather, pigeons flying into my head.
Don’t laugh. Who can say that they’ve never experienced a “low flyer,” a pigeon that seemingly gets a late start taking off, and so barely clears your head? Obviously, he didn’t get clearance from the tower.
Pigeons also have the worse strand of New York “blinders” and have “the walk” down pat: they look straight ahead when they’re walking (or flapping and hopping), so even though they are an eighth of the average pedestrian’s size, we get out of their way. When they flock together, I’ll even cross the street. Like an extremely disheveled man I saw today who walked in a questionably straight line while shouting obscenities at the top of his lungs, the rush hour crowd parted for him effortlessly. Pigeons have the same effect.
Okay, maybe pigeons aren’t as powerful or have an agenda as I make it seem, but I’m still wary when I find myself sharing the sidewalk with them.
Sorry Bert—I just don’t get it. But, I suppose we can learn to get along somehow.
At least they aren’t as bad as cyclists.