Bike Community Forum (ChainLink) As Bathroom Wall

Midnight Marauders preparing to cheat

Photo by R. Wasserman

So the question was put to the ChainLink Community as a whole:

Are the Marauders and other like minded cyclists meeting up before the L.A.T.E. Ride somewhere? Anyone planning on crashing the ride in large numbers? I don’t see a discussion of this happening online and I for some reason ain’t on the MM list serve. I should probably get on that.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with the ChainLink it is a FREE forum that bills itself as “a Chicago bicycling online community”. You can find all sorts of Chicago and even suburban rides listed on this forum. It is a good place run by a committed staff in support of the cycling scene in Chicago. Among its contributors are groups like the Active Transportation Alliance. That fact is important to grasp because it rides like theirs (Bike The Drive and the Four Star Ride) which drive the funding cycles for such organizations each year.

And yes these group get governmental funding as well. But I have to guess that without a committed ridership for these two rides the Active Transportation Alliance would have a rough time making ends meet. “Pirating” or “Auditing” their rides takes food off the tables of the employees and limits the services they can offer on their limited budgets.

I bring up this point about “auditing” because there is a lesson in there that every hipster in Chicago ought to get and understand down to its very core. Stealing would be the better word to use rather than these two euphemisms. And stealing is a big problem for ChainLinkers when that activity is directed at them. You can sample a thread on this topic here:

Now in order to understand why bike theft is even a problem you have to disregard the concept of private property. Bike thieves are in the process of “liberating” things. You see a bike that you like you “liberate” it from a greedy person who no doubt can afford to suffer the loss. The notion is that their homeowners insurance will allow them to replace it. And you the “liberator” (notice I did not say thief) are free to use the bicycle or sell it at the local flea market or on the street to someone who else who can afford to pay your price.

But ChainLinkers take bike “liberation” seriously to call it theft. But they often fail to see “auditing” as much more than a chance to practice their mad Critical Mass riding skills. A couple of seasons ago we did the L.A.T.E. Ride (which the the ride in the original posters sights) only to find ourselves accompanied by a few Marauders who felt it proper to ride down the center of the opposite lane at breakneck speeds. I remember this because the oncoming traffic into which they were riding was honking and swerving to avoid these knuckleheads and I kept holding my breath wondering when a collision would occur.

(Note: The L.A.T.E. Ride is sponsored by the Friends of the Parks. Monies from this ride goes to help the city keep the park beautiful and presumably to help with the maintenance of Park District property like the Chicago Lakefront Trail. You can read a few comments about the trail in several recent threads on the ChainLink. It is an essential thoroughfare for bikers trying to get from the Loop or Northside down to the Southside and beyond. And ChainLinkers are always agitated about the maintenance or lack thereof on this route. So it would seem that a challenge to the general membership of the ChainLink forum to steal monies from this ride would be in order. But I doubt very seriously whether you will read one single complaint about this activity. ChainLinkers protect their own while castigating the driving community for ever possible perceived infraction. Clearly this is a one-sided view of the world.)

The cops finally made a public announcement about the necessity to stay on the right side of the center line. But of course the Marauders thought this was much too lame a thing to do so off they went at the next opportunity to continue their exemplary behavior.

Why Theft Is Not Funny

As I said before there are folks in organizations (some are clubs) who depend on the dollars generated by the rides they host. Rides like the L.A.T.E. Ride while a great deal of fun require buy in from lots of organizations. There are

  • police being paid overtime (I am supposing) for directing traffic at busy intersections
  • porta-potties which have to be rented for the night
  • public parks will require a clean-up crew the following morning to restore them to something resembling “normal”
  • food stuffs and water, energy drinks and all the rest have to be purchased and provided for the paying riders
  • EMT groups are standing by in the event of a tragedy and that costs money as well

And in an age where government spending is a dirty word it would seem that any attempt to keep costs down on rides like these which in turn help to keep taxpayer costs down would be uppermost in the minds of everyone.

But it will take some cojones on the part of the ChainLink Community to stop acting like over-grown teenagers and demand of itself that everyone pay their fair share. And for goodness sakes stop advertising your scofflaw attitudes openly. And if you persist in this some of the leadership in that community need to step forward and call out the miscreants who find similar behavior in “urban youth” reprehensible but savor its practice amongst themselves.

It is time for the Double Standard to cease and desist even among bikers. The ChainLink Forum is not a bathroom wall where for FREE you get to encourage law breaking.