Updated: John Kass, I Thought We Were Ignoring Him?


Just last weekend the ChainLink agreed and was led in that agreement by the Vicar of the Church of Urban Cycling that the very name of John Kass was to no longer be uttered from the pews of the Sanctuary known as Chicago ChainLink Forum. In fact the Deaconess began the assault that became a deluge of “never mention his name again” comments. I guess that Brent never got the memo or is simply trying to draw as much attention to his blog as possible. And choosing a target like John Kass is definitely low-hanging fruit in this Diocese.

Don’t Regulate Guns, Do Regulate Bikes

Brent Cohrs

Brent Cohrs

Posted by Brent Cohrs on December 18, 2012 at 11:00am

Thanks to all who read, shared, and commented on yesterday’s post on Chicago Now entitled Rahm Dedicates Dearborn Bike Lane to Dozens of “Little Bike People”. That was only the beginning of my efforts to refute the lunacy that goes by the name of John Kass.

Today’s post parodies his demands to register bikes and license riders by comparing it to the gun control debate
Please consider dropping by and adding your comments at Chicago Now or below.


But not all of the members of the congregation are Liberals. Some are Tea Partiers or even card-carrying NRA members:

Reply by Jason 6 hours ago
This is a gun control piece, and off topic for this forum. I would debate you, but I have more respect for the forum rules than that. Take your anti second amendment hit piece elsewhere.

What is difficult to gather is whether this “motley crew” is aware of how they look to the outside world? After all if you are going to discuss “shunning” an Apostate you should either follow up with a voice vote and then stick to your agreement or perhaps stop all the “grand standing” in the first instance. But hey, if you want to earn your stripes in this particular gang you need to find their common enemy and way lay him (or at least seem to) and then announce to the rest of the gang-bangers the gory details of the assault.

For The Record John Kass Is Not The Enemy

If you want to find a villain you could do far better than John Kass. His thesis is something of a wake-up call to the cycling community concerning their current “free ride“. When Republican governors decided to spurn stimulus monies they made their way eventually to Chicago. Imagine that. And being a friend of the POTUS it did not hurt that Rahm Emanuel is now mayor of the City of Chicago. All of the work being done in the Mass Transit arena is likewise coming from this fund.

But eventually we will be on an even footing with other municipalities that are beginning to see the struggles develop between those who want to continue at the previous pace (prior to the “single pot of money” conditions of the current transportation bill). At some point in the future we will be faced with tight money for bicycle infrastructure and either private enterprise will have to lobby for the increased use of these lanes or the citizenry will have to be won over. And that is where the “scofflaw behavior” of urban cyclists comes around to bite The Movement in its collective butt.

There is going to come a day in the not too distant future which will remind us of the handwringing that is going on in both political parties and to some degree in the NRA as a result of the Sandyhook tragedy. And when that day comes the motorist-versus-bicyclist hatchet will have to be buried. Motorists may not find this particular blog entry of Brent Cohrs all that flattering. And it might just be the kind of grand standing that impedes the cause as opposed to helping it along.

Cyclists need to be mindful of the aggressiveness they display when “preaching to the choir” because the doors to the sanctuary are standing wide open and the mike on the pulpit is in the ON position and the sound guy forget to shut off the outdoors speakers surrounding the Church of the Urban Cyclist. Make no mistake somebody is keeping tabs on what is being said and will delight in flinging it back onto your riding jersey as a giant embarrassing “rooster tail“.

If you are going to do any “grand standing” then maybe you might want to password the thread and limit the speakers. But what fun would that be?

For the present you can seem to be “talking amongst yourselves” in the certain knowledge that you are being overheard. And in that case you should be sending these threads to the Chicago Tribune editors to get them published and really rile up the opposition in the motoring public.

Right now it is the plight of the less fortunate riders of Mass Transit to have threats of route cuts and delays thrust upon them. Beware the fact that it will not take these riders very long to grow resentful of all the “glad-handing” that is going on right now over the opening of the Dearborn Street protected bike lane. South Siders are going to have to be wondering why this 12-block $450,000boondoggle” is occurring at the same time fares are going up on the Red Line and service is being cut for Senior Citizens in certain areas of the city.

If you do not see the irony then it stands to reason that you are “tone deaf” when it comes to the aggressiveness of urban cyclist rhetoric as it applies to motorists. You stand to be as startled at effect of your rhetoric as the GOP was when it realized it had lost most of the Latino, Black and Single-White-Female vote in the last election cycle.

To illustrate my point about how “tone deafurban cyclists can be it is even possible to create a schism amongst the church members quite easily. Here is one parishioner who is complaining about the thread cited above:

Reply by Dragonborn 7 minutes ago
I agree. I come to this site, which is dubbed “a chicago bicycling online community” at the top of every page, expecting to read up on and discuss cycling advocacy and not the Second Amendment. A thread like this only divides The Chainlink membership, not unite us.

If the OP is allowed to promote his anti-gun agenda here disguised behind a cycling blog, then I should also be allowed to promote pro-gun advocacy here as long as I include bicycling.

Please consider supporting the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association today and let’s continue to fight for our country’s constitution and our human right to defend liberty, life, and property.

Guns in the hands of honest and good people save more lives than a cop on the phone and two more on the way. Not enough cycling-related content in my promotion? Very well then. We have high crime in the city and a lack of a sufficient police force effectively patrolling the Lakefront Path and the streets of Chicago. With the recent federal court ruling that struck down Illinois’ unconstitutional ban on right to carry, Chicago residents may finally soon have a chance to protect themselves no matter what method of transportation they choose, whether it be on foot, in a car, or while riding a bicycle.

Now if a fellow urban cyclist can react in this manner just imagine how much distance there is to traverse in attempting to communicate with motorists? And I’ll bet the Active Transportation Alliance folks will stay mum on this one. I certainly would. Unlike lobbing volleys at John Kass this one could definitely gain enough traction to derail things.

Finally, you have to ask yourself why we are spending money for bike lanes when we learn that we are in the “early planning stages” of shutting down schools:

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Chicago Tribune reporters
6:00 a.m. CST, December 19, 2012

Angelique Harris, a member of the Bronzeville Community Action Council, attends a hearing on school closings Monday at the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church in Chicago. Harris has a child enrolled at Wells Preparatory Elementary Academy. (Warren Skalski, Photo for the Tribune / December 17, 2012)

Angelique Harris, a member of the Bronzeville Community Action Council, attends a hearing on school closings Monday at the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church in Chicago. Harris has a child enrolled at Wells Preparatory Elementary Academy. (Warren Skalski, Photo for the Tribune / December 17, 2012)

An internal Chicago Public Schools document obtained by the Tribune shows for the first time that the Emanuel administration has weighed how many elementary and high schools to close in which neighborhoods and how to manage the public fallout.

Labeled a “working draft,” the Sept. 10 document lays out the costs and benefits of specific scenarios — revealing that the administration has gone further down the path of determining what schools to target than it has disclosed.

While schools are not listed by name, one section of the document contains a breakdown for closing or consolidating 95 schools, most on the West and South sides, as well as targeting other schools to be phased out gradually or to share their facilities with privately run charter schools.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his top school leaders have said they are in the early stages of making difficult decisions and that the city cannot afford to keep operating deteriorating schools with dwindling student populations in the face of a billion-dollar budget deficit. The document goes well beyond what the administration has outlined to the public.

Now as a South or West Sider you probably are going to be a bit more circumspect about bike lanes when your children are suddenly facing a loss of a local school and teachers are finding themselves unemployed. All of these things make for a less favorable job climate for the Middle Class here in Chicago.

Is it possible that because of the impending “fallout” from even more school closings and the reduction in Mass Transit service to underserved communities that the pace of bicycle lane infrastructure has to be as quickly undertaken as one ChainLinker recently noted?

But again John Kass is not the real enemy for cycling here in Chicago. The real enemy will be us. We will be our own worst enemies when we do not learn to make the words of Ron Buhrke come true and instead continue to behave badly despite the better bicycle infrastructure:

Reply by Lisa Curcio 11 hours ago
If we ever get around to “enforcement” instead of “outreach” it must be directed at cyclists, too. Tonight when I left the Daley Center I saw a cyclist ride through the red when the left turn lane from Dearborn to Randolph had a green arrow. She (yes she) had plenty of time to stop and just didn’t. I guess she was lucky that the left turning cars were not moving very quickly. At Lake, I was stopped for the red and five–count them, five–cyclists went around me to either go through the light or to anticipate the change from red to green. Although it’s been said many times, many ways, we want the motorists to obey the signals and we need to obey them, too.

People who drive or whose kids attend Chicago schools are no different than cyclists. They place the “so’s your old man” game just as well as we do. And they are going to want their “pound of flesh” from anyone who seems to be getting all the perks and taking part in all the grand bike lane openings and generally finding any excuse to get on camera while people are losing jobs and having their Mass Transit services curtailed.

Both the average urban cyclist and our cycling advocacy leadership need to be less tone deaf when it comes our explanations of why our bad behavior on our bikes is nobody’s business but our own. We like to quote Randy Cohen about being the only ones with “skin in the game“. That argument is a lie and gets spouted by every Deacon and Deaconess in the Church of Urban Cycling at every opportunity. But like churches whose outward group narrative includes Family Values but who behind the scenes condone the actions of pedophiles, it “will not wash” for very long.

People are not stupid. They will take a look at cyclists as they pass them in traffic and run red lights and fume. And when their turn comes up to ask the Mayor why are we spending so much money on so few people (admittedly there is a 50-to-1 ratio of motorists-to-cyclists) we may not have an answer that can drown out the voices of news commentators or blot out the videos of camera crews showing just the kind of behavior Lisa describes above.

I have seen it and it makes my blood boil. And I am in favor of the better of cycling. But with every new lanes comes added responsibility to look as if you deserve it. Why would it not make sense to develop specific registration and licensing requirements for cyclists when we are already thinking about requiring people who collective welfare checks to submit to drug tests? Again, we cyclists are a bit “tone deaf” when it comes to how we sound every time we “run a red light or blow a stop sign“.

But hey! Maybe I am a complainer who really is a closet bike hater? Why else would I not turn a blind eye to what is happening in our community and like Ron Burhke deflect criticism to actions by motorists which can demonstrably be said to have a greater potential for harm? Yeah, that logic is gonna play real well in our under-served communities.

And now back to our self-congratulatory revelings over the new Dearborn Lane.