Service of Unintended Consequences

May 6th, 2013

Categories: Bicycles, Change, Phones, Travel, Unintended Consequences

Transparent backpack

One business will get a jolt as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings because it appears that backpacks won’t be allowed at future ones there or in NYC either. Not every one of the some 45,000 runners who finish the NY Marathon depends on them but enough do. Add the smaller events here and elsewhere and the numbers add up. Fanny packs are allowed and will take their place. Perhaps transparent backpacks will eventually be allowed.

pickpocketThe increased incidence of pickpocketing in Europe will fatten the wallets of manufacturers of money belts and other contrivances to keep tourist cash and credit cards safe. Pilfering got so bad at the Louvre that guards went on strike. Security felt that the Paris police were too easy on the children who perpetrated countless daily thefts. [Why children? They get into the museum free.] On a recent “Travel Show,” Arthur Frommer noted that Paris isn’t the only European city to report record theft and suggested his listeners take care.

Airline limits on luggage have impacted that industry and orthopedic surgeon and audiologist waiting rooms flourish from the fashion for platform heels and ear pods on portable music devices.

Matchlighting candleHave you scrambled for matches to light candles on your dinner table or to add calming fragrance to the atmosphere? So few restaurants use matches to promote their businesses.

Finger nails are out for Android and iPhone users who expect to type on screens. Look around: There are fewer claws than in the past.The technique for those who use voice-to-text systems harkens back to the dark ages when executives had secretaries and typing pools. They chatted into Dictaphones with letter or memo copy and secretaries typed what they heard. As in days of yore, you can also ask your phone to add a comma and a period. There was no wink symbol then.

BicylesNew Yorkers are split about what to expect from the 10,000 cycles in the bicycle share program again about to launch: Increased lines in ERs perhaps? I’d written about the initiative last summer in “Service of Exercise” when we first expected it and haven’t changed my mind: Thumbs down and I’d like to be wrong.

I saw an able-bodied 50-something man walking briskly across Third Avenue at 43rd Street last week. Suddenly he fell flat on his back. He hadn’t seen a deep hole surrounding a manhole cover and lost his balance and his footing. We’re putting thousands of bicycles on these unsound streets?

New York drivers are unforgiving and rushed. If you’re crossing where they want to go—what’s a green light?–there’s a 70-30 chance they’ll stop. Maybe the unintended consequence the Mayor anticipates is a more cordial driving attitude. That would be nice.

Do you have examples of good and bad unintended consequences or some that are yet to be determined?

 courteous taxi


Tags: , , , ,

6 Responses to “Service of Unintended Consequences”

  1. Hester Craddock Said:

    I’ll give you a good example of an unintended consequence. A few years back, there was a great film, “The Madness of King George” about King George III’s mental problems. As I read your above post, particularly about bicycles in New York City, I thought of “King George.” It dawned on me that bicycles are truly “The Madness of King Michael!”

    I admit that, except for this, Bloomberg has done a better job as Mayor than we his subjects have any right to expect from the ruler of this impossible city. However, his imperious imposition upon us of these damn bicycles, their riders, their lanes, their priorities and their arrogance is an utter outrage! Because of them, traffic jams have already become far worse than they were before especially on First Avenue, causing substantially increased pollution, delivery and travel delays, and a consequent considerable increase in cost of living and doing business in the city.

    Worse, they are dangerous! A few years back, a spandex coated, helmeted, Amazonian hulk, running a red light ran me over and knocked me to the pavement. Fortunately, no bones were broken and I not a bleeder; my damages were only the cost of some iodine and a few Band-Aids and lingering aches and pains. It could have been far worse.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I hope that things might get better rather than worse re. cycles in this city, but if my almost collision this morning with a bicycle driving at high speed, the wrong way, in just such a traffic jam as you describe is an example of the future, my hopes don’t have much chance.

    An unintended consequence I didn’t mention: Sign-makers will do well as we see new ones that warn: “Look both left and right before crossing this avenue or street.”

    I am sorry to hear of your accident though relieved you didn’t suffer as badly as you might have. Did the bicyclist also fall or help you up or was he/she off with the wind?

  3. lucrezia Said:

    No backpacks equals more knee jerk nonsense inspired by tragedy. It’s akin to a parent punishing all the children because of one anonymous infraction. So now no backpacks, and the assumption everyone is now safe? Anyone think the friendly local terrorist hasn’t thought that one out and will find another strategy — such as perhaps leaving an innocent looking shopping bag on a crowded street corner during rush hour? BOOM! 500+ deaths! Now, shopping bags banned? The stores will have a ball – imagine all the shipping and delivery charges coming their way. Sounds of rejoicing from post office and UPS! A solution is not clear, but those proposed so far won’t work.

  4. Hester Craddock Said:

    You would ask. I thought I had spewed out enough negativity. Although of football player, with a dollop of May West, dimensions, the spandex revealed to me what appeared to be a female. She hit and ran.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Great Lucrezia!

    More unintended future consequences, imagine the headlines: Terrorists using shopping bags save the USPS and UPS. What irony.

    Now there’s a three dimensional plastic gun made on a special copier that bypasses gun detectors in buildings and airports. We can’t run fast enough.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Here’s another unintended consequence: Pedestrian insurance to pay for damage done by bicyclists perhaps?

Leave a Reply

Clicky Web Analytics