Time and again we see evidence that the ChainLink Crowd is either unwilling or unable to bring pressure to bear on those who behave badly as cyclists.
Background Reading: CNN Article
The usual tactic is simply to ignore incidents that don’t fit the narrative of the “cyclists as victims”. If a group holds a dangerous alleycat race on the streets of Chicago and a rider dies during the activity. All eyes are averted and nothing is said in print. Let a hapless motorist open a door on a rider astride a brakeless “fixie” who swerves into a flatbed truck and you cannot shut the ChainLink crowd up.
The disconnect here is the inability to confront the obvious and Jerry Springer-style behavior of people in our midst who by extension tarnish the reputations of the movements they have come to represent.
On the most recent Four Star Bike Tour the ride marshal who accompanied my group from the Brookfield rest stop into Oak Park was a complete and total jerk. He seemed to be going out of his way to break every Rule of the Road possible. When I wrote the Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance and even posted to their website comments area there was no response whatsoever. This is odd behavior from a group that routinely likes to complain about the lack of response from governmental agencies when they have grievances.
But as with all organizations it is far easier to simply ignore issues that deal with them.
We have hissy fits if a driver parks in the bicycle lane. We post photos on ChainLink as evidence of their malfeasance. But when we find that bikers are using pedestrian handrails on the CTA lines to lock up their bikes we are disgruntled at the fact that people were being ticketed for this activity.
Either we are going to “look the other way all the time” or “we should stop coddling bad behavior” no matter where it occurs.
The jury is out on whether the president of The King’s College is guilty of having an affair with a woman he was introducing at a recent Evangelical Christian conference as his fiancé. You see he is still married. He claims that he was unaware of the cultural mores that prohibit you from getting engaged while being married. This seems a bit disingenuous but I will give him the benefit of the doubt here. He may just be that ignorant.
What is not excusable is the fact that he was unable to predict the firestorm that resulted from his questionable behavior. What he did was tantamount to showing up at a bicycling rally driving a Hummer. Bad form that. It makes it doubly stupid when you happen to be the Executive Director of the organization that is sponsoring the rally.
Let’s Make A Deal
Let’s stop all the hand wringing every time someone in an automobile does something stupid either by omission or deliberately. And I then it will not be necessary to keep harping on the likes of Randy Cohen and his admission that he treats all stop signs as yield signs. Let’s stop complaining that Hummer drivers are irresponsible and I will cease grousing about fixie riders who get themselves in situations from which they cannot recover while trying to ride what is essentially a track bike in street traffic.
But frankly this amounts to the coddling of people that LZ Granderson is arguing against. So perhaps it is high time that we stopped shielding our own from criticism and call them out right there on the street. We also need to hold our Executive Directors proverbial feet to the fire on making certain that folks who represent them (even though volunteers) are aware of what is expected of them. And when folks write to complain at the very least give them the courtesy of a response.
Stop the grandstanding where you write a meaningless article in response to a criticism leveled at the cycling community in the newspaper while being non-responsive when it comes to keeping your own in check. That seems easy enough.