Updated: Active Transportation Alliance Is At Work For Our Benefit


Background Reading

On the same day that Second City Cop chose to expose some of the underbelly of the Protected Bike Lane Project here in Chicago, the Active Transportation Alliance leapt into action to defend the safety of the Urban Cycling Community with a call to fix the mess that are the existing Protected Bike Lanes in our fair city.

Oops! That is actually a lie. What Active Transportation Alliance did was quite a different thing.

TELL GOV. QUINN: Don’t put the brakes on protected bike lanes and safer streets!
Posted by Active Transportation Alliance on February 11, 2013 at 1:14pm

Whether you’re an 8-year-old child or 80-year-old grandmother, you should be able to ride a bike on your community’s streets without fearing for your safety. Barrier protected bike lanes are designed with all kinds of people in mind to make biking a safe and easy option for everyone.

But Streetsblog Chicago and the Chicago Tribune have revealed that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has put the brakes on barrier protected bike lanes and safer streets. This will impact plans for safer streets in both the City of Chicago and the suburbs. Please sign this petition telling Gov. Quinn that IDOT must cooperate with local communities to create safer streets for biking!

Tell Gov. Quinn: Don’t put the brakes on protected bike lanes and s…
Lee Crandell, Active Trans

Of course no mention of the rather slipshod job of installation on the existing lanes. Instead it’s full steam ahead with this shame of a campaign that is sure to draw the silly knee-jerk response of the so-called Activist Community in Chicago. These folks love nothing better than to sign petitions for things that while crappy and dangerous are in their minds a sign of progress, so it’s unlikely that most of these Trained Seals will even blink.

Here are a few of the responses:

Reply by Richard 1 hour ago
Done! And have forwarded to a few other folks.

Reply by Michelle Stenzel 1 hour ago
Thank you Lee and Active Trans for providing this easy way for everyone to speak up and protest this situation. I’ve been stewing over it since Streetsblog Chicago first broke the news last week.

Clybourn Avenue was scheduled to have a 3.5 mile stretch from Division to Belmont upgrade this coming spring 2013, and this move will delay that for years. As Steve Vance pointed out in the Streetsblog coverage, portions of other important streets like Diversey, Archer, Washington and Adams were scheduled for upgrades in the coming year 2013-2014, and those will also be delayed. I encourage everyone to sign this petition, preferably with a personal note saying why this will affect you and why it matters, and pass it along for others to do so as well.

I’ll bet that after being robbed at gun point some of these folks would want a letter sent to the judge telling him why they are in favor of letting the thief slide since his high school principal failed to make it clear that guns were dangerous. No wonder Chicago is as corrupt as it appears to be, we have folks who simply, willfully ignore reality.

Reply by Anne Alt 2-10 1 hour ago
Thank you for creating this petition. There’s more than enough data from other states regarding protected bike lanes.

While bike lanes themselves me be a passable idea and even safe, are we going to argue that the ones in place have made things better?

Reply by Kevin C 4.1 mi 1 hour ago
Shouldn’t the form letter to Gov. Quinn contain at least some language to the effect that the Chicago Department of Transportation and Active Trans reserve the right to continue to recommend and install poorly designed, hastily constructed bike lanes over broken and irregular pavement, and maintain and/or plow it sporadically, secure in the knowledge that the Chicago cycling sheep community will uniformly embrace it as “progress?

Reply by Duppie 13.5185km 1 hour ago
Damn it! Now I have soda all over my keyboard. Thanks Kevin! 🙂

Precisely! John Kass has no need of ever again writing a single column deploring the construction of bike lanes at taxpayer costs. He can simply let the buffoonery continue and wait for others to do his work for him. People in Chicago while more trusting of their politicians than they should be are not stupid. Eventually it will become clear the Active Transportation Alliance is to City Hall what the NRA is to the gun manufacturers lobby.

Reply by Thunder Snow 1 hour ago
Done. Now Kevin, don’t let the desire for perfection prevent any progress at all.

Lame response, under the circumstances, but predictable.

Reply by Kevin C 4.1 mi 1 hour ago
My benchmark for progress is, on balance, “no less safe than it was before.” In my subjective assessment, this has only been achieved once-with the Kinzie bike lane, and I still believe there are aspects of that project which have resulted in “less safe than it was before.” If I were a proponent of protected bike lanes (and I most certainly am not), I would be more concerned with the powers that be getting them right. They are very high profile infrastructure projects which have polarized transportation factions. If these projects don’t get used because they are poorly designed, constructed or maintained, they are going to be very public failures, and that will result in greater difficulty in constructing better ones in the future.

The kind of argument that Thunder Snow is making is not that much different than the ones used by Catholic Clergy when talking to the victims of child abuse who are asking for some measure of punishment for their priestly tormentors. The standard reply seems to be “take one for the team Church”. But the sad fact is that they already did.

Reply by 122782_ 57 minutes ago
I agree that we need more PBLs so people feel comfortable with biking in the city, but these things really need to be planned/executed better.

Overall, I enjoy the Kinzie PBL, but parts of it definitely could have been designed better. Allowing parking all the way to the bottom of that first hill is super dangerous. Nonstop right hooks. Plowing here is always hit-or-miss, too.

Reply by globalguy 55 minutes ago
Yes Kevin, stop being a poop! Don’t you know that the ATA and it’s employer, the City of Chicago, always know what’s best and where. Geez, you’re just too damn cynical. Perhaps we need to secretly convene the Pollyanna Council of 7 3/8s to isolate your bad vibes from the innocent and pure of heart.

Ha! Funny, but oh so close to the reality of the situation.

Reply by Yasmeen 44 minutes ago
Being a commuter that does not have protected bike lanes, I am disappointed in learning this is not a priority for iDOT and I hope they change their minds quickly. I signed the petition and posted it on FB. Cyclists need safer streets and this has been a much needed improvement. I hope this continues and our Mayor continues his commitment to making the streets safer for cyclists.

This is entirely the opposite of what is going on. Imagine what the average Liberal would say if he read a letter from a pharmaceutical company deploring the fact that their newest drug was not being released because the FDA wanted more testing results.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 1 hour ago
While IDOT’s polices are a bit heavy handed (a 3 year moratorium seems a bit drastic) I don’t think they’re totally in the wrong here. IDOT isn’t saying no protected bike lanes period; what they’re saying is lets sit down study protected bike lanes, draw up some design standards and do this right. There are legitimate safety concerns and developing design standards to address those issues is something that should be encouraged. Like several other posters in this thread have noted, there are a lot of things that really need to be designed better.

Yikes! Get the High Priest at Active Transportation Alliance and let him know that there is a potentially rogue congregationalist on the loose. Perhaps a simple ex-communication is in order? Of course the moment we all sit down, take a breath and consider how to do things right, we will have lost precious time in continuing to get it wrong.

Quotation by Carl Sandburg

Quotation by Carl Sandburg

We need to hold the feet of our “friends” to the fire as strongly as we do those whom we perceive as our adversaries.

Quote by Abraham Lincoln

Quote by Abraham Lincoln

Our current crop of lanes would get a “D” if they were someones homework assignment. Why urge that more of the same be installed?

Active Transportation Alliance is attempting to get suburbanites into the fray by charging that bike lane infrastructure creation will be stymied there as well. So what?

Looking that the situation from a suburban point-of-view I would welcome having our lanes delayed if it meant that someone like Senator Lindsey Graham could hold both the CDOT’s and Active Transportation Alliance’s feet to the fire. IDOT is doing everyone a very big favor in signaling reluctance to rubber stamp more of the same slipshod installations.

We need John Kass-like reporters to help get that word out. It is time that the Church of Urban Cycling got more than a little “pushback“. They have been sucking up tax dollars for showpiece lane construction in the City of Chicago with very little to show for it. The phrase “bang for the buck” has a fairly sordid history. It of course refers to an unsatisfied customer of a practitioner of the world’s oldest trade. We are not getting much “bang for our buck” either.

Our high priests are busy offering us a chance to protest the use of contraceptives under ObamaCare while avoiding any further mention of pedophiles in its ranks. This is just the kind of thing that is easily foisted upon activists who are either too young or too eager to be of service to their handlers than is wise. Tell the high priests to stop chanting the Talking Points and intoning the name of John Kass every time they seek to divert our eyes from the man behind the curtain. This is the Emerald City (after all we dye our river green each St. Patrick’s Day) and we do have high priests who desire our Ruby Slippers. And occasionally winged monkeys do fly out of their butts. It just cannot be helped.

But we do not have to be enablers for this lot. They can and should be made accountable. Tell them that a write-in campaign against the Governor is no substitute for riding herd on the installation of protected bike lanes so that our money is not squandered.

Two Truths

The first truth is “Don’t let the desire for perfection prevent any progress at all”. The second truth is that “Perfection is never possible”. So what we need here is an Operational Definition of Progress.

Kevin C offers what is really an operational definition of progress. He says, “My benchmark for progress is, on balance, ‘no less safe than it was before’.” Now if you think back to the Hippocratic Oath this is essentially what they are arguing. Whatever you do to attempt to cure a patient, “Do No Harm”. The question is then whether the lanes that have been installed meet that burden of proof?

What Kevin C says is as follows:

In my subjective assessment, this has only been achieved once-with the Kinzie bike lane, and I still believe there are aspects of that project which have resulted in “less safe than it was before.”

What Protected Bike Lanes are intended to accomplish is the enticement of newbies out onto the roadway. These are people who have no preconceived notions of how on-street biking really works, having been absent from the scene until now. If the lanes they are being asked to follow are pitted, crumbling, essentially falling apart, lacking in proper artifacts for effecting turns (and whatever else is failing) then we have not progress but rather “showcasing“.

If showcasing is your aim, then fine. I’ll shut up. But your own definition claims that these lanes are there to usher in both “real quantifiable safety” and to induce in the users “the sense of being safer“. Because lanes have worked in other cities or countries is no guarantee that our exemplars are equivalent. And that is what IDOT is questioning. After all when it is your responsibility to find the monies to pay out to victims of tragic accidents which are levied against you because of negligence, it behooves everyone concerned to be certain that “all due diligence” had been done.

If I am a soccer mom or dad I expect no less when my children of high school age are out-and-about on these lanes. If expect that my spouse on his way to work will not be injured or killed as a result of the conditions of the very lanes he uses because he assumes they are safer. I am concerned because as the mother of his children I expect him to return home as a breadwinner not a corpse or a broken person.

What part of understanding these simple things is preventing Yasmeen from understanding the problem? When we rushed to have the nuclear bomb ready to use in World War II we did so with little or no understanding of or regard to the health of the soldiers and sailors who witnessed the blasts. We have done this sort of thing with prisoners in the Carolinas and more recently with aboriginals in both Australia and in the Dakotas here in the U.S. All of course in the name of progress.

How ironic is it that Liberals are as “brain-dead” as the Conservative counterparts where their version of “fracking” is concerned? It seems that once we get a set of Talking Points, like the guns of Conservatives no one will be able to pry them from our “cold dead hands“.