I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately. A lot.
Recently I was driving on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. I noticed something — some things — poking off of the front wheel of a semi truck: spikes jutting out several inches from each wheel lug where only short nuts should be necessary.
Naturally I pulled my phone out of my pocket to take a photo. Driving with one hand, I edged the car up close to the spinning spikes, keeping both eyes on the viewfinder.
And once I noticed these spikes on the first semi, I started noticing them all of the time — like on one in four semis. Best of all, I saw some of these spikes next to a Yiddish pun on a vanity license plate.
Apparently these are not a new fashion accessory for 18-wheelers. They’ve been around awhile and I’ve just never noticed them before.
In case you were raised by nonviolent hippies inside a bubble of peace and love, the purpose of these spikes is to intimidate. This product description makes that fact clear:
If you want a mean, aggressive, rugged look for your truck, SUV, or Jeep, pick up a set of these Metal Lugz spiked lug nuts today!
Hawaii has even considered legislation to ban these spikes, along with…
…any wheel, wheel cover, hubcap, lug nut or lug cap, prong, or any ornamentation … that extends out past the wheel’s rim in a manner so as to cause injury or property damage when the moving wheel contacts a person or object.
I haven’t forgotten that this is a bike blog.
If you are someone who rides a bicycle to work, then you are familiar with the perverse reasoning that we encounter endlessly. It is considered conventional wisdom: Bikes are dangerous. But how often do you see a weaponized bike?
Informed people know that the risks of cycling for transportation are low; as low or lower than using a motor vehicle. And we know that the risks are largely borne by the person on the bike.
Can you imagine the outrage if a trend got going that actually did make bikes dangerous to others? I know: Bikes can be dangerous to others, but what if a superficial fad made them even more dangerous – say as dangerous as a common non-weaponized compact sedan being driven by a PTA mother.
As I pondered this, I got out my brand new sketchbook and this is what I came up with:
Unfortunately this is not something you could just attach to your spokes. This product would have to come with a “mono fork” — a one-sided fork normally used on specialty bikes either to reduce the weight, or to allow for a special fold on a folding bike, but not to accommodate rotating spears.
My point is…
Hell, I don’t really have a point — least of all a point protruding menacingly from my bike.
But how is it that a certain strain of truck driver can mount hostile spikes on his or her rims, and that passenger car consumers increasingly seem to go for scowling Darth Vader grills purposely designed to look mean and angry? While in the minds of those who don’t use bikes and/or don’t know what they are talking about, the bicycle can never be benign enough.