ChainLinkers, Morales Is Calling You Out!

Summary

Matthew 21:16 – New American Standard Bible (©1995)
and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?”

Psalm 8:2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

There is an old expression, “Out of the mouths of babes”. I took the liberty of quoting at least two of the instances of its usage. Matthew 21:16 is the source of its utterance by Jesus of Nazareth. Psalm 8:2 would be the reference from the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures that he was no doubt quoting.

The interpretation of the general meaning of this phrase in today’s world is:

Something that you say when a small child says something that surprises you because it shows an adult’s wisdom and understanding of a situation

A Tragedy Brings Renewed Understanding

A young Hispanic rider lies dead during the aftermath of an accident at a Critical Mass Ride this year. As with most accidents in the urban cycling world which are not caused by motorists and for whom there really is no one else to blame, the normal expressions of outrage are muted if not altogether absent. Articles like these are not popular with the ChainLink crowd. These kinds of tragic tales are not included in the narrative sheet handed out at Critical Mass Ride or at rallies for fallen comrades for whom a ghost bike is being installed.

Like the death of a priest who crosses on a red light and loses his life this fatality does not bode well for our narrative of being unlawful but ethical when we disobey the law. We like to wander in and out of the grey areas of morality when we tell our tale of ourselves to ourselves. But let a fellow like John Kass even think to be considering writing something about either our behavior or our precious pretty green bicycle lanes and we fly into a full throated rage before reading even a single word of the rumored article.

The first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.

— Walter Anderson

We are almost always silent when we should be speaking out. The one critical skill we cyclists lack is the ability to be honest with ourselves. After every election in the United States one party or the other has to stop the “Trained Seals” act and begin assessing whether or not their narrative worked in their behalf.

The GOP in this election cycle seemed genuinely surprised that members of minority groups took exception to their rhetoric. I guess that there are only so many times you can refer to Hispanics as “illegals” before it begins to wear thin.

Likewise you can only disrespect a President so many times because of his parentage before folks old enough to remember the “one drop of black blood rule” from the not too distant past begin to suspect that Racism is alive and well in the GOP.

It would be wise for Urban Cyclists to take heed. Our naked aggression where motorists are concerned is wearing thin. Our aggressiveness extends to other cyclists or pedestrians who “violate” our precious “pretty green lanes”. From time to time someone on the ChainLink begins to realize the severity of the problem:

Reply by Cameron Puetz on October 25, 2012 at 10:26am
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.

Jason said:
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.

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

But this sort of mea culpa is rare in the discussions that occur on this bathroom wall forum. And even when they do the person delivering the assessment feels vulnerable. In the thread on John Kass and his reportedly eminent article against protected bike lanes one respondent sheepishly offered:

Reply by Douglas Iverson 17 hours ago
I agree with David. “We all have to work within the law.” There hasn’t been an organized ride I have ever participated in where I wasn’t left behind at red lights by cyclists blocking the flow of traffic running red lights and stop signs. Lets not be a problem for ourselves and give motorists something to complain about. A stop only needs to ba a fraction of a second so putting a foot down, unclipping or performing a track stand is not often necessary. As far as a loss of momentum is concerned shift that bike as if you were driving a sports car. I must obey the laws including hand signals if there are vehicles around because my concience won’t let me do otherwise. Try it. You’ll be amazed at the respect you get, at leeast here in the burbs. Bear in mind that I am 61 and ride a 6 speed Huffy cruiser so if I can do it so can you. I know I’ll be dissed for this.

We are more than ready and willing to thwart anyone who is considered an “outsider” from exposing a viewpoint on the nature of our narrative that is less than flattering. But when we need to do some soul searching we are as weak as any Tea Party member at being able to withstand or even begin self-criticism. We would instead rather ask our 8,000 plus members to help us raise $15,000 to improve our website so that presumably we can better spin our narrative against motorists, pedestrians and people of color who “ride against traffic” when using our lanes. It is as if we cannot possibly realize that these lanes are carved out of streets that “we the people” own. That is to say all of us.

I can hardly imagine that ChainLinkers would of sharing their bike lanes in the same manner as evidently do the Dutch. That would be too much like admitting that we needed to live what we preach every time we set up an Open Streets event. I guess it has never dawned on the majority of ChainLinkers that come the inevitable crunch time when we need greater numbers to push our cause for increased bicycling infrastructure despite their being little money to do so, those interlopers in our lanes that we welcomed instead of buzzing could come in handy.

But hey, like the GOP we will Etch-A-Sketch our past our version of calling someone an “illegal” just in time to grab their vote for more creation of lanes just for us. I just wonder where we think that future cycling allies are going to appear from? Oh but that is for greater activist minds than mine, so I will sheepishly hold my tongue and wait on my “betters” to speak.

Mr. Morales Speaks Truth To Power

Morales was part of a series on the tragedy that befell Jerico on that fateful Critical Mass Ride. StreetsBlog manned up and took their medicine:

(Following this weekend’ high profile crash and fatality at Critical Mass, there’s bound to be some discussion of fixed gears, “brakeless bikes” and helmet usage. Here at Streetsblog, we don’t want to run away from the controversy or try and tell you how to think so we decided to run a series on the issue(s) raised by the events of the last 96 hours. If you would like to chime in, feel free to do so in the comments section, or if you are interested in publishing your own op/ed, drop me an email at damien@streetsblog.org – DN) 

Kudos to them for having the cajones to do this. We need more of this sort of thing, preferably led by the folks at Active Transportation Alliance who are strangely silent except to respond to feverish requests to write letters to the editor in response to opinion pieces that cloud our group narrative. They and we need to get over ourselves. We need to be at least as brave as either StreetsBlog or the Wisconsin Bike Federation when it comes to airing our dirty laundry.

But instead the ChainLink decides to muzzle anyone whose message is too critical of the general narrative and then asks for money to help make their site better. I am loathe to think that most of the managing members of the board might be Tea Party members who are willing to drink the Kool-Aid over and over rather than ever be willing to embrace a bit of soul searching on the part of the rabble that infests this forum.

But Morales had these things (among others) to say about riding safe:

  • Not being able to stop is as irresponsible as a drunk motorist driving a car!  If you take out a fellow cyclist and he or she is injured or dies because you can’t stop or injure a pedestrian for the same reason, it is just not right.
  • Not wearing a helmet? – Come on guys. Most people that aren’t wearing helmets aren’t wearing them because of cost.. Coming from LA’s Eastside, I personally know the financial challenges our community members face. I do realize that there are some riders that truly can not afford them.  However, most of the people who decide not to wear a helmet is by choice and just to be cool.  I have seen people receive helmets for free and refuse to wear them.
  • We can regulate ourselves, or someone will do it for us – It’s our choice. – In the spirit of enjoying the freedom of riding a bike, and celebrating life and the friends we meet on a bike and in honor of Jerico, let’s create a movement to wear helmets and to add brakes to your bikes.

Now contrast this “in-your-face” response to the hypocrisy of his elders to what was done when a similar situation developed here in Chicago with a “fixie” rider who lost his life trying to avoid an open door. Rather than analyze the problem for what it really was we decided that legislation to punish the owner of the vehicle with the open door was a better alternative. Most likely because it fit in better with our narrative.

John Kass Is Not The Enemy

How Much Like This Motorist Do We Sound When Speaking of Pedestrians or Joggers In Our Bike Lanes?

ChainLinkers get over yourselves. We have no more right to have pretty green bike lanes than we do have the right to run red lights and blow stop signs. And our ChainLink membership should not have to apologize for acknowledging the fact. The High Priests and Pharisees of Jesus‘ day were guilty of being unable to see their own hypocrisy. Above all else exposing that reality was what got Jesus killed.

In fact were he here in 2012 asking about our hypocrisy on the ChainLink Forum we would probably decide that he needed to be taught a lesson and removed from the forum membership. After all who does this “upstart” Jew from Galilee think he is? The “Trained Seals” would probably wade in with addition observations:

  • He does not live in the city limits and is rumored to have come from a rural area (or “perish the thought”, the suburbs). He certainly does not understand urban cycling’s issues.
  • He keeps talking about “turning the other cheek“. Our suspicion is that he probably rides a heavy three speed bike with a too wide saddle and cannot get as comfortable on it as we “fixie” riders do.
  • The one thing that really bothers us is his insistence on talking about “the future kingdom” and straying from our narrative concerning the “hear and now” and the precious pretty green lanes that we simply must have.

We are at a crossroads each and every time we try and ignore the “elephant in the chat room“. That elephant is our smugness and arrogance where others are concerned, especially motorists. But you could easily add to that list pedestrians, joggers and wheel chair users who are clogging up our lanes. Gosh we almost sound like the motorists we characterize as being upset by our “taking the lane” as we ride right down the middle of it. BikeyFace could have easily have been writing about us as impatient and entitled motorists.