Drunk monkeys

Wild monkeys drink water from public taps in Jammu, India. Do they turn the taps off when they're finished drinking? If they're bicycle-riding monkeys, probably not.

Wild monkeys drink water from public taps in Jammu, India. Do they turn the taps off when they’re finished drinking? If they’re bicycle-riding monkeys, probably not.

While Indians don’t worship monkeys per se, monkeys are considered sacred by many and revered by many others for their association with the Hindu monkey god Hanuman. You’ve seen photos of these under-regulated primates, usually rhesus macaques, roaming freely through the streets of New Delhi and other Indian cities.

It can be problematic.

In 2003, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh applied to the national government for help controlling its monkey population which it feared would soon outnumber its humans. In 2005, a gang of monkeys in the state of Orissa discovered a pot of brew fermenting outside someone’s home, then went on a drunken rampage that left three people hospitalized. In 2007, the deputy mayor of New Delhi fell to his death while chasing monkeys from the balcony of his apartment.

The havoc that monkeys are wreaking on human society in India and the controversy surrounding that havoc have escalated to the point of war, at least metaphorically. Google “monkey wars” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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While the citizens of Greenville don’t worship cyclists per se, cyclists are considered sacred by many and revered by many others for their association with the cycling god George Hincapie. You’ve seen photos of these under-regulated primates, usually dressed like scuba divers, blocking traffic on race days and dominating pedestrian corridors on their days off.

It can be problematic.

A family of monkeys perched on the side of an office building in New Delhi is arguably charming, but there’s nothing at all charming about a family of cyclists moving toward you at ramming speed on a far-from-deserted sidewalk in the West End.

As happened to me just yesterday. Two boys on dirt bikes, an adult female on three wheels and an adult male outfitted for the Tour de France.

Cycling brings revenue to Greenville and Greenville has responded very responsibly by building bike lanes and hosting bike races. I’m cool with this. What’s not cool is the way that cyclists are getting drunk and disorderly at the party we’ve thrown for them.

Like the macaques in New Delhi, many cyclists seem to think that if they’re physically capable of going a place using their preferred mode of transportation, it’s a place they get to go … with or against the flow of automobile traffic, on the sidewalk at any speed, whatever, whenever. On one occasion, I watched in amazement as a cyclist rolled his bike into a restaurant and up to the counter where he ordered lunch.

It’s too much to hope for, I’m sure, that Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace will have a sobering effect on the cycling bacchanal now underway in Greenville and I doubt seriously that City Council is prepared to spank the goose that’s laying its golden eggs. So I guess that my only recourse is to carry a sack of industrial strength tacks with me everywhere I walk and when I see the monkeys coming …

I kid, of course.

Sort of.