Monthly Archives: February 2011

NYC: An Obstacle Course For Cyclists

I’ve been behind the wheel and I’ve been mounted up on a bicycle cascading through the busy city streets, so I have a pretty good idea of what a cyclist goes through as he/she dodges aggressive drivers, pot holes, and roadside debris, and what a frustrated driver goes through as he/she is forced to go five MPH behind a sauntering cyclist smack dab in the middle of the street.

There are rules of the road for cyclists and drivers alike and if those rules were followed by both, bicycling wouldn’t be so dangerous, because let’s face it, a car can kill someone on a bicycle and not the other way around.

The New York City Department of Health estimates that over a half million New Yorker’s ride bikes and the bike culture continues to boom in NYC. Many city streets do not have specific shoulders for bike lanes so this causes cyclists to bike alongside and cut in between automobiles – some of these cyclists do this without even wearing helmets and some of these cyclists ride in the night time without headlights or reflectors, making it hard for a driver to even see them.

Biking is certainly a major way to commute in NYC, but if there are no bike lanes it’s not really the bikers fault if they are cycling in the middle of a busy street – but it’s not so smart either. As a licensed driver, I’ve been stuck behind a casual biker many times and there is really nothing you can do about it. The driver is forced to go five MPH behind a biker and cause traffic for everyone else. These cyclists never show any signs of remorse that they are holding up a line of 10-15 cars. They’ll never turn around to see what’s going on behind them and they’ll never go up on the sidewalk to let the cars pass, but they can surely hear the horns of several different cars beeping simultaneously.

Bikers and motorists have practically the same responsibilities when it comes to the rules of the road, but the ones I personally find that do not obey these rules are the cyclists. Many times the cyclists don’t even follow their own rules. When there is a bike lane, the common rule is that the bikers bike the same way of the traffic. Sometimes there are bikers coming from all different directions in a narrow bike lane, which makes it dangerous for all bikers involved and dangerous for the motorists.

Many times bikers think that the streetlights don’t apply to them, but it’s important for a bike to yield when a red light is coming up – if not, this is how accidents happen.

Everyone on the road – whether you are biking, driving a car, skateboarding, running – should know the rules of the road and follow those rules. Riding a bike on the streets of NYC is not a leisure activity; it’s practically an obstacle course full of death traps. Know your roads and how to ride them.

Bike safety 101:

“How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?”

Muslim woman praying in a mosque.

There is no doubt about it that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the majority of the American populous’ view toward Arab Americans and Muslims severely changed for the worse, and this is true even more so in New York. Post 9/11 was worse a time than ever to be an Arab living in New York City.

If you were living in New York City as an Arab woman wearing a hijab or an Arab man with a long beard while the wounds of 9/11 were still fresh, you were looked at by everyone else as the enemy – as a terrorist. This is an unfortunate, but true statement. Racial profiling towards Arab Americans spiked up higher than ever before after 9/11, especially within the confines of airport security.

Although almost a decade has passed since that dreadful day that will forever be ingrained into the lives of all American citizens, the stereotypes of the Arab and Muslim race seem to still persist.

A USA Today poll from 2006 showed that 39% of Americans admit to holding prejudice’s against Muslims. In the 2007 spring issue of the Journal of Human Resources a study was shown displaying that the earnings of Arab and Muslim men dropped 10 percent after the 9/11 attacks.

In 2008, Moustafa Bayoumi, an Arab American and associate professor of English at Brooklyn College published “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem,” a book which depicts the stories of several Arab Americans and their struggle living in the USA post 9/11. This book was extremely controversial.

Moustafa Bayoumi, author of "How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?"

There is no doubt about it that being an Arab American living in the USA and especially in New York City is difficult since people of Arab and Muslim decent are linked directly to terrorism. Although the terrorists were of Muslim decent, Americans need to realize that not all Arabs and Muslims are in fact terrorists.

Some Americans believe it is wrong and disrespectful for Arab women to wear their traditional hijabs and some Americans are extremely uncomfortable and uneasy when they are about to get onto a plane and they see an Arab man on his knees praying, but unfortunately it is extremely difficult to change people’s minds and these are sad facets that Arab Americans are struggling to live with today. Sometimes those very prejudice’s call for Arab Americans to assimilate more with the American culture by abandoning their own traditions and norms just so they are not looked at as a terrorist.

It looks like it is going to take a long time for the prejudices held against Arabs to dissipate completely.

Ink, in the flesh and the power of multi-media

Just being here and reading this blog is in itself a way of experiencing and participating in this new type of multi-media that is rapidly making its way into every aspect of our daily lives. No longer does there exist only one medium to create and get our voice out to the public. There exists the plural of medium, which is media. We have the magic of the Internet, which allows for anyone to get their voice out to the public and to possibly get the opportunity to go viral in cyberspace reaching thousands of viewers.

Multi-media refers collectively to print media, broadcast media, and digital media – the most modern form of media, which includes the Internet, cell phones, web sites like Youtube and social networking web sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Audio, video, and photography all constitute as multi-media. Multi-media allows for a whole bunch of different opportunities that have never arisen before. With our Smartphone’s we can take videos on spot and immediately upload them onto the World Wide Web. What makes multi-media so significant is how it is changing the world. Multi-media calls for mass communication, which gives “average” people the potential to greatly impact the lives of other individuals.

Every form of media we read and every form of media we watch shapes us as human beings. Because of multi-media there is a lot more out there to do the sculpting. For example, in recent news, the protest in Egypt is one of the stories that have been taking over the airwaves. Because of web sites like Youtube, anybody can go type in something as simple as “protests in Egypt” and get live footage from someone who was there and posted it onto Youtube for the world to see. That’s the thing about multi-media – when something goes up onto the internet the WORLD can see it, not just the bubble that people tend to stay in because it’s comfortable there. The World Wide Web makes for a fascinating tool in order for people to mass communicate.

If a person wanted to find out about anything all they have to do is go out and search on the Internet. The problem isn’t if the information is there or not, because it is there – the problem is where to go to find factual, useful, stimulating, and intriguing information. The positive and negatives about the Internet is that anyone who is anyone can upload whatever they want. People are granted all the cyber freedom their hearts desire, which can unfortunately lead to an extreme amount of garbage and idiocy floating around in cyber space.

This blog is called “Inkflesh” because I will do my best to write truthfully and informatively on any subject that comes up throughout these posts. I will show my flesh to all of you as readers. And if you are wondering about the “ink” part of it all – well, I prefer to write tangibly with a pen and paper as opposed to typing on a keyboard, but because the world we live in is changing everyday and there are different outlets to get your voice out there, why not blog about it?