Tagged: bicycle

Net Neutrality, but with Roadways

I’m about two weeks late in posting about Rob Bliss’s attempt to raise awareness about net neutrality. Bliss rode his bike and set up traffic cones to throttle automobile traffic outside the offices of the Federal Communications Commission. Like the Burger King commercial I posted about last month, the metaphor of the bicyclist causing artificial congestion isn’t the best way to explain what is wrong, even if it makes motorists angry because they can’t go as fast as they want without first paying a toll or running-down the pesky cyclist.

Allow me to offer a better metaphor of what driving would be like without a “net neutrality” for roadways. Say, for example, that Ford built all the roads in your town. Ford allows all Ford cars and trucks to drive on these roads as often as they want at no cost. However, if you own a Toyota and want to drive to the grocery store, either Toyota the automaker or Toyota drivers will have to pay a toll of some type. Perhaps, Ford has a deal with Honda, allowing Honda drivers to also use the Ford roads for no cost. But it comes with certain restrictions: anyone driving an Accord can only drive with two passengers and no cargo. Otherwise, those drivers will have to pay an additional toll or subscribe to an expensive unlimited driving and carriage plan. And what about Tesla? Would those cars ever get to even use these roads? Probably not. So everyone in your town will basically own only a Ford because it’s cheaper and simpler to just do that. And because there’s no competition for Fords in your town, everyone will have same set of crappy Ford cars and trucks, and Ford will have no incentive to ever make anything other than those same crappy cars and trucks.

I should note that Ford has actually been making better cars and trucks than it did over the last half-century, but that’s partly because they don’t enjoy the kind of dominance they once had and because they responded to competition from Asian and European automakers.

As is becoming clear, raising awareness of net neutrality is not as crucial as it was just a few years ago. It’s clearly a hot political topic. What we need to do is to act: to do whatever it takes—through legislation or litigation—to ensure the Internet remains an open platform for communication. The Internet belongs to no one, but in the United States, the final mile belongs to one of a few corporations, usually your cable provider or an incumbent telephone company. We must insure that the infrastructure owners do not get to regulate or dictate what content can be carried over that final mile. Otherwise, we’ll all be driving metaphorical Ford Pintos on the Internet.

Bastille Day Ride to Beacon

For Bastille Day this year, I wanted to ride my bike somewhere I had never been, and as luck would have it, there was a club ride from Poughkeepsie to New Paltz to Beacon that was listed for Sunday, it was a “B” ride with a 17-mph pace, and it wasn’t full. So I signed up for it.

Bastille Day 2014

The ride began and ended outside of New York City so it required two trips on the Metro North train. Since the ride from New York to our starting point in Poughkeepsie was about an hour and a half, our ride leader recommended we eat two breakfasts, and I happily stopped by my local 24-hour grocery and bought two breakfast items before making my way to Grand Central to catch the 7:44.

The ride was splendid. The roads were gorgeous with plenty of tree shade, rolling hills, and very few cars and traffic lights. There was some hard pack through the woods on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, which was great because it was a pretty hot day, and riding through the shade made things a lot more comfortable. There were some interesting contrasts on this ride. On the one hand, you would see icons of the country: houses on large parcels of land, covered bridges, and lots of farms. On the other hand, I saw a few less savory elements, such as some folks that would looked like they were cooking meth. There were some abandoned and shuttered houses that could be used to cook meth. Or maybe the countryside and meth go together more than I had thought.

Covering Bridges

My third breakfast of the day was at our lunch stop in New Paltz at Mudd Pile Cafe, in the Water Street Market. It wasn’t quite noon so lunch wasn’t yet being served. The highlight of the stop was that we came during the second annual Hudson Valley Chalk Festival. Although we didn’t look around much here, I was captivated by a guy performing a series of Johnny Cash covers.

Covering Johnny Cash

Once on the road, we proceeded through Ulster and Orange Counties, and then over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, named for Hamilton Fish. In Beacon, we were planning on going to the River Terrace as our ride leader rides for beer, but to our chagrin, we found that it was closed. It was as if they had closed down for good and were under construction. As that door closed, four of us found ourselves at The Hop on Main Street. This place was new, and was clearly a better option to the place that got three stars on Yelp.


A small of group of friends came to The Hop, mingled with my cycling mates, and the Bastille Day celebrations were afoot in Beacon.

Cars: It’s why we can’t have nice things

An eyewitness told me that the van at far right end of the photo had run down this bike rack just moments before I walked by to find it in its fallen state. I had thought that someone had taken down the rack to steal the bike, but my source says there was no bike parked at this rack.

I use that rack from time-to-time, and now some idiot driver took it out. Damn you!