What To Do About Hunter Pence? ChainLinkers Hold Pow-Wow…

Background Reading

ChainLinkers On The Sharing Of Bike Lanes With Pedestrians

Hunter Pence may not realize it but he is on very shaky ground where the ChainLink crowd is concerned. A recent thread on this venerable repository of Chicago Cycling Community wisdom left no doubt in anyones mind that not only are pedestrians not welcome in Chicago bicycle lanes but ChainLinkers take steps to make their displeasure quite evident:

Reply by Jason on Wednesday
No way they are allowed in the bike lane. They think it’s the lake front path or something, which is multiuse. When I see peds in the bike lane, I like to buzz them close. And when I say close, I mean at full speed practically brushing them as I fly by.

We Chicagoans not only “vote early and often” but we know how to have a good time when we are displeased with those who encroach on our bicycle lanes. We try and give the appearance of being “all in this together”. We even have an advocacy organization which is supposed to represent pedestrians, transit riders and cyclists, but that probably is only being done to get a bigger piece of the pie for cyclists. What we really believe is that we are entitled.

Fortunately there was eventually at least one “adult” member of the forum who replied to Jason about his comment:

Reply by Cameron Puetz on Thursday
I’ll admit that I don’t really know you, but from the image you project online you come off as very self entitled and stupidly aggressive. Why anyone would think that deliberately ridding in a dangerous manner just to scare someone they don’t like is a good idea is beyond me. I hope when you inevitably cause a crash that the injuries to all parties are minor.

I’m honestly not bothered by a lone pedestrian walking in a straight line to the edge of the east bound lane. I feel bad for them that they’ve been squeezed out by bad road design. Can you think of any other street in River North that doesn’t have sidewalks on both sides and cross walks that are as completely disregarded as Kinzie? It seems like a terrible street to be a pedestrian on. Large groups walking more than one abreast, or pedestrians in the west bound lane annoy me, but the majority of pedestrians I see are in the east bound lane where they have no where to go and walking reasonably.

Good to see that the “trained seals” have not completely overrun the place. But there is still the question as to whether in general ChainLinkers feel comfortable swimming against the current of aggressiveness that seems to pervade the language and by extension the thinking of ChainLinks denizens. The jury is out on this point (at least for me).

Putting Hunter In His Place


Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle
Hunter Pence commutes to games at AT&T Park on a souped-up scooter that reaches a top speed of 20 miles an hour.

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about the fact that urban cyclists who are eager to have more bicycles riding alongside them in their newly acquired bike lanes were going to get a jolt when the realized that some of them might be velomobiles. But the video shown at the start of the third game of the World Series was yet another eye opener (at least for me).

Hunter Pence plays right field for the San Francisco Giants. He commutes from his home some six blocks away on an electrified scooter. It is like the ones kids use with their feet. But this one is capable of moving along at 20 MPH. That is pretty fast for sidewalk riding and would probably violate one or more Chicago ordinances. Pence says of his commute:

“Don’t worry about it,” the Giants outfielder said of anyone concerned about him sustaining Evel Knievel-like injuries. “I don’t ride it in the street. I’m partially in the bike lane and partially on the sidewalk. I use the bike lane if it looks clear. It’s 5 minutes on the scooter, six blocks.”

The time it takes him to travel the six blocks sounds quite slow. I would imagine that he has to be circumspect because of the nature of the business he is in. Any injuries on that scooter could jeopardize his livelihood. But the real question for ChainLinkers is how to treat this sort of encroachment from the pedestrian class.

Do you brush by this guy and really piss him off? Do you ride up alongside him and ask him for his autograph and then hand him a flyer your group has cooked up denouncing people who use the bicycle lane when not riding a bicycle. Do you photograph him using your iPhone encroaching on the bicycle lane and then publish a snarky article about VIP Karma? And if you do publish a photograph of him using the lane how dark do you make it so that he won’t sue you for using his likeness without his permission?

These are really important considerations that probably need a meeting to discuss pedestrian education efforts, right? Or maybe you could figure out a way to threaten to publish his picture and in exchange for holding off score a few box tickets for the next home game. Decisions, decisions…

You certainly cannot overlook this problem because his scooter is motorized and he is riding it on the sidewalk (which is probably illegal) and and alternately using the bike lane (which God himself has ordained for ChainLinker use). It’s really a tough call. But I guess that all the “bad boys” on the ChainLink can get together and agree to ride past his massive frame and buzz him for good measure. Yep, that’s the thing to do.

But what happens if he turns and thrusts out his massive arm and knocks you into a sprawling position in your own private bike lane? Can you sue? No doubt there will be a vitriolic thread begun where plans will be hatched to get some of the cycling lawyers to help decide the best way to proceed. But will the ChainLink have to scrub its threads of all of the “self entitled and stupidly aggressive” references made? Again, this is really a sticky wicket.

Perhaps the best course of action is to “wake the f*ck up” and quit being so self-righteous. After all there will probably be no additional lanes painted around the city specifically for each and every possible class of HPV (or electric-assisted variant). We will simply have to all get along. Besides you really do not want to piss off a guy who is a heck of a lot larger than you are and has friends who are even bigger and can run like the wind when needed.

Time to get our collect heads out of our ChainLink arses and grow up. Maybe even get married and raise a family and get on with our lives.