Whether you agree with scofflaw cyclist behavior or not, there is a marvelous bit of insanity that accompanies it. Connie and I had just come down Ravenswood and had turned onto Ashland heading west. We were on our way to the Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park.
My GPS unit indicated that the next turn was Damen so I moved over to the left turn lane and entered the intersection in anticipation of the turn. My arm was out pointing to the left and the car facing me was also attempting a left turn, but he was blocking a clear view of the traffic approaching him from behind. I waited and sure enough a half dozen cars came flying around him and headed through the intersection! When I finally saw a clear opening I took it.
Behind us were four twenty-something females in leather boots, blue jeans and short jackets and caps. They were obviously headed somewhere south along Damen and passed us shouting about the need to be a bit more aggressive in making that left turn.
Up ahead at either Cornelia or Melrose the group blasted through yet another stop sign. I was watching and realized that the motorist waiting at the stop sign and ready to make his left turn was a bit perturbed at their blatant disregard for the sign, so he we ahead with his turn right in front of the group.
The most aggressive of them braked hard and avoided a collision and the automobile continued on through the turn. She shouted something at him (and judging by her body language it was not “Happy Friday”) and then continued through the intersection with her cohorts in hot pursuit.
The ChainLink-style riders are “nuts”. They are aggressive when it comes to dealing with other riders and confrontational when navigating amongst automobiles. I doubt very seriously whether the replies to the recent thread on the forum titled “is biking to work making you a happier person, or an angrier one?” were as unvarnished as they might have been. Watching this bit of lunacy unfold today left me very sceptical that many of them are actually happier.
Riding along Ashland and Broadway is not exactly pleasant. Side streets are clearly the way to go if you plan to keep your blood pressure lowered and your adrenaline levels as normal as possible. And while Damen is a fairly tame street none of the wider, busier venues is what you would take on a leisurely “stroll” through the north side of the city. No wonder folks are as goofy as they appear to be when they don’t know you are watching with a critical eye.
First of all the aggressive nature of the riders is palpable. And it reminds you of a 100 pound weakling who after having endured a full semester of schoolyard bullying decides to punch the lights out of Bubba the 320 pound nose guard from the football who has been his nemesis all year. It’s not going to end well for the weakling but at least he will have vented his frustration. Behaving in a dismissive manner where cars are present is not smart.
Randy Cohen at least had the good graces to ply his scofflaw behavior in the absence of motorists. These gals were doing their thing by blowing a stop sign with cars at all four corners and the oncoming traffic already signaling a left turn. Yikes! Now the worst of it is that sometime this week these gals will decide that they need to vent their frustrations on the ChainLink Forum and the description will be nothing like the one you have just read.
Instead the motorist we have been said to have missed stopping at the intersection and they were riding through when he turned wildly into their path and nearly hit one of their number. And immediately the “trained seals” will follow with a myriad denunciations of gas guzzlers and the fools that inhabit these steel cages where their very souls are being sucked dry while they ply the streets looking for their next victims.
In fact it will inspire yet another crop of would-be anarchists to join in on the very next Critical Mass Ride in a demonstration of solidarity with their comrades in leather high-heeled boots. jeans and jackets whose honor was nearly taken from them by some maniac motorist.
Ah well. Winter is coming and with any luck these gals are all seasonal riders who have no interest in getting their boots soiled with road salt spray.