This Is All Kabuki Theater, Right?


Dearborn Bike Lane© John Greenfield

Dearborn Bike Lane
© John Greenfield

The GOP is finally at the point where I hold them in greater contempt than I do Chicago’s Church of Urban Cycling. But frankly they are likely to recover their center more quickly than will the arrogant activists who are parading around in a self-congratulatory fashion at having $450,000 lavished on a 12-block stretch of Dearborn Street. Chicago’s Urban Cyclists are after all got their “relief money” and are spending it as fast as they often run red lights during rush hour.

What is missing from the Urban Cyclist landscape is that pivotal moment when the money dries up and they have to learn to come “hat in hand” to the table along with transit riders (whom they often describe on their FaceBook pages as disgusting and much in need of personal hygiene) and pedestrians whom they feel are have no right to ever encroach on their bike lanes (and into the bargain deserve a Taser session when they do) and of course the Spawn of Satan, motorists.

But the Church of Urban Cycling might want to “watch and learn” from the scenario unfolding in front of their “tiny minds” (all thanks to J. R. Ewing for that one) as the GOP takes its lumps from within its ranks. My cycling helmet is off to both Rep. Peter King (normally a rabid attack dog for the GOP) Gov. Chris Christie for dropping the undisguised “blame bombs” where they are most deserved (the heads of the House Leadership).

There will come a time in the not too distant future when people in the City of Chicago will start asking why we have the money to paint lanes green but not enough money to keep transit fares from rising. Why must parking go up? Why are the sidewalks in general disrepair but the lanes are painted bright green?

People who walk downtown Chicago will for the first time get to see just how many commuters on bikes warranted this $450,000 expenditure. They will get to see that if you stand and wait a few minutes few riders come whizzing past. They will get to see that this newly minted thoroughfare for cyclists has low points collecting ice and water and will need to be rehabbed in the not too distant future. So what was the rollout all about? Why were these problems not taken care of before the cameras were trained on talking heads and self-congratulatory cycling advocates?

People are not stupid. They will see and they will want answers. They will start visiting the ChainLink and reading what cyclists say about their concerns and they will not like it. They will wonder why bike lanes to handle a cycling population of perhaps 7,000 riders warranted all this lavish attention.

They will see bike lanes after a harsh winter where snow plows have decimated those silly little PVC bollards and dug up miles of pretty grain paint and wonder where will the money come to repair the damage from the winter? And make no mistake about when the sequestration process begins bike lanes will be in the cross hairs and everyone on Capitol Hill will be getting copies of Randy Cohen’s views on Kant and Bicycling. And then the questions will arise as to why we need to pay for bike lanes for folks who require special traffic lights of their own before they promise to behave themselves.

I wonder who the Chris Christie of urban cycling will be? Better yet who will play the part of John Boehner? Bring out the popcorn!

And as if on cue this thread arrives this AM to help us pick the players: