ROADS REPORT: Health and fitness

Everyone knows that ice cream is bad for your health, especially if you’re an athlete specializing in left turns

Blog Entry October 08, 2012

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Ice cream dreams
Turf wars are nothing new in New York City. Prohibition gave rise to rival Mafia families, street gangs began to rumble in the 1950s, and today drug dealers clash over street corners.

But none of these compare to today’s high-stakes ice cream wars.

Two ice cream companies rule the streets in New York: Mister Softee and Yogo. Their rivalry dates back to 2010 when Yogo was founded by a group of rogue Mister Softee defectors. For some reason, though, the bad blood has really intensified this year.

“It got ugly fast,” said a 21-year-old Yogo driver who claims that a Mister Softee team recently tried to cut the brakes on his Yogo truck with a crowbar.

One vendor even claims that a Mister Softee driver approached his truck in Columbus Circle with a gun and said, “Next time we see you here, we shoot you.”

Just like any turf war, this one is all about money. On a good day, an ice cream vendor in New York City can make $1,500, but expenses mount up. Product costs about $200 per day, and drivers make about $300. There’s also a $3,000 annual fee for being part of a franchise. And then there’s the truck itself, which starts at $25,000.

The intense pressure to sustain sales makes some drivers very protective of their routes. Drivers abide by a gentlemen’s agreement not to infringe on other drivers’ territory. Unless, of course, something were to happen to a driver that prevented him from covering his route. Say, for example, an issue with his brakes.

So far, police have been kept out of the conflict while the two competing bosses seek to resolve matters privately. Or at least until one makes the other “an offer he can’t refuse.”

Cycling superhighway
Can you imagine one out of every three people in your city riding a bike to work? That’s already the case in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the city aims to increase that number to 50% by 2015.

To do so, a network of 26 new bike routes, known as “the cycling superhighway,” is being built to give people living in surrounding suburbs a direct path into the city center.

Once the network is complete, officials estimate that 15,000 commuters will switch from driving to biking. And that will not only impact the environment and public health—the bike highway also is expected to save the city $60 million each year in health-care costs.

Athletic support
It looks like Tony Stewart fans will get the last laugh, thanks to a new study from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that said, despite all appearances to the contrary, NASCAR drivers are, in fact, athletes.
The study claims that not only are athletic skills needed behind the wheel of a race car, but that there also is a significant correlation between performance on the track and the length of resistance training.

The study also found that “upper-body strength was identified as the most important physical ability for driving stock cars by 100% of the subjects in the study.”

“The sport is actually more demanding now than it used to be,” four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon stated. “I think the drivers are in a little bit better physical shape than what they used to be as far as preparing for the races.”

Even NASCAR legend and renowned Schlitz beer fan Tony Stewart has slimmed down to a svelte 180 lb in recent years.

Now that driving in counterclockwise circles is considered an athletic endeavor, race fans hope to see competitive left-turning included in the next summer Olympics, perhaps sandwiched between trampoline jumping and racewalking. R&B

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