Learning To ‘Give’ As Opposed To Always ‘Taking’

Background Reading

Summary

You have to wonder sometimes where the heads of the ChainLink crowd is positioned? Take a look at the Midnight Marauders a “sanctioned” group that is part of the ChainLink Forum community:

Midnight Marauders Poster

Midnight Marauders Poster

To all liberated cyclists who take to the road every month, for free, in large masses. It is our duty to audit the L.A.T.E. Ride to ensure that fellow cyclists experience an entertaining and enjoyable ride for their money.

We’ll meet at the traditional bar on the corner of Jackson and Halsted. Where we will get drunk before the audit. (Just like IRS agents you can’t audit on a booze-less stomach.) Remember if you’re inclined to bring your own hooch for the ride do so! We don’t know if we’ll have time for a stop.

Join the conversation here: http://www.thechainlink.org/forum/topics/anyone-else-planning-on-auditing-the-l-a-t-e-ride?id=2211490%3ATopic%3A562079 .

If you’re joining us, please, RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook [ https://www.facebook.com/events/411389172247347 ] or the Chainlink [ http://www.thechainlink.org/events/mcdonalds-l-a-t-e-ride-audit ]!

Getting On The Wrong Side of the ChainLink A-Listers

I first came across this group last year as they were planning to descend as they freely admit in a drunken stupor upon the “suburbanites” whom they characterize as “having more money than brains” who were going to be doing the L.A.T.E. Ride.

This ride is described as:

The L.A.T.E. Ride is among the largest bicycling events in the United States and Chicago’s biggest nighttime bicycle ride! Cyclists ride 25 miles under the moonlight through the city’s downtown, South Loop, Chinatown, and North Side neighborhoods and along Chicago’s spectacular lakefront bicycle path. They see the best the city has to offer: a stunning skyline, culture, diverse neighborhoods, nightlife, architecture and more. They finish along the lakefront while enjoying the sunrise over Lake Michigan. “I love the camaraderie!” said one rider.

I have done the ride several times and got to see the Midnight Marauders in action long before I knew of them or who they were. That particular year their group was riding on the other side of the double yellow line trying to “play chicken” with oncoming traffic. It got bad enough that someone reported them to the CPD who sent a squad car to the next rest stop to announce that this had to stop. So much for the vaunted aim of the Urban Cycling Movement being all about “safety“.

Positive Life Poster

Positive Life Poster

Now before you start trying to blow sunshine up my backside with silliness like that poster to the right, think about this. The Midnight Marauders is not a marginal group on the ChainLink Forum. It boasts 380 members as of this writing. That makes it the second largest group on the ChainLink Forum superseded only by the Bike Winter group at 429 members. The Midnight Marauders represent the essence of what it means to be a ChainLink member and their sentiments as openly expressed are what draw people to them.

Last year I unloaded on their open discussion of “pirating” the L.A.T.E. Ride. The ChainLink was largely silent as they tried to invoke verbal violence on me for even suggesting that what they were about to do was somehow wrong. To this day I have not forgotten what the ChainLink represents in terms of its members, they are as Mitt Romney expressed it “takers“.

Since I am not a big fan of the GOP or Mitt, you can say that I feel less than positively disposed to people like this. We as cyclists express to the rest of the world that we have one important aim for Chicago and its suburbs and that is increased “safety“. We openly bemoan the tragic loss of life each year with Ghost Bikes. But frankly holding a ride in which you purposefully steal services from an organization dedicated to providing monies for the Chicago Park District and doing so while purposely intoxicated and then capping it all off with an exhibition of scofflaw cyclists behavior has to make you wonder whether the Cycling Movement itself is a sham.

Ok. I’m A Grouch!

So some of you reading this are going to say, you are once again blowing things out of proportion. You need to be more positive. These sorts of groups are more prank than reality. Ok. I’ll take your advice and read what this same group has to say about another fundraiser ride called Bike The Drive.

Now keep in mind the Active Transportation Alliance is the beneficiary of this ride’s donations. Along with the L.A.T.E. Ride this is a biggie in terms of Chicago fundraising activities. A person who was signed up to do this ride asked some questions. Eventually one of the ChainLink luddites awoke and decided to offer their take on the ride and “safety“:

Reply by James BlackHeron on April 7, 2013 at 8:12am
As long as you bring your required Styrofoam Talisman and enough money to cover the entry fee you can get in and ride the Drive. Beyond that, the ability to somewhat pilot a bicycle without falling down is the only other requirement.

Reply by Hilary Thorne 18 hours ago
I have a question –
where does it say you have to wear a helmet?
I’ve cycled for more years and in more countries than I care to remember without a helmet, and have no intention of starting now!
Does that mean I am banned?

Reply by Zoetrope 17 hours ago
Did you check the Bike the Drive website? Should make it clear there.
Assuming you haven’t paid for BTD and don’t intend to, I’m pretty sure you can easily bypass the entry fee by jumping on at an on-ramp somewhere if you are dead set on riding without head protection. Or maybe you can wear one at the beginning and then throw it out once you’re out of the site of BTD volunteers. And now that we’ve established you haven’t paid and don’t intend to, that’s all the better. American USD has more blood on it’s hands than all the styrofoam helmets ever assembled. Don’t tread on me! After all, this is a free country where you don’t have to wear a helmet if you don’t wanna, you don’t have to pay for services that you use if you don’t wanna, and you don’t have to wear no stinking Talisman on your head if you don’t wanna.
Love,
Freedom Lover

Reply by Anne Alt 16 hours ago
To you “freedom lovers” out there- please understand that it costs a lot of money and hard work to put on Bike the Drive. This is a major fundraiser for the Active Transportation Alliance, and it helps fund many programs and events.

Do you want to cheat a non-profit that does a lot of good work to benefit you and many others? If you advocate being a ride bandit, that’s what you’re doing.
I’m not a fan of thieves.

Reply by Active Transportation Alliance 6 hours ago
Regarding helmets, it’s in our waiver and we believe that wearing a helmet is one of the safest choices you can make while biking.
It would be incredibly challenging for us to enforce 20,000 people to wear helmets but we do our best to encourage helmet use when we see people w/o helmets.
Paid participants wearing rider numbers may start at the north and south rest stops (Bryn Mawr, Museum of Science and Industry).
We ask that participants start at these locations so they can be ensured a safe start at 5:30 a.m. when the police give us the official “all clear.” Even though LSD may look clear that early in the morning, we have to wait until the police have cleared all car traffic…that’s how we keep it safe.
We do find that after the event has started (e.g. you’ll see tons of people on bikes on LSD (the street)), that registered participants will roll on or off at many locations. That’s not something we can truly enforce and are less worried about it because the event has safely started.
As Anne said, we do care if unregistered participants are riding. You’ll be cheating a nonprofit and disrespecting the many thousands of other people who paid. We hope you don’t do this.
If you’re planning on signing up, we’d recommend doing it by this Sunday at 11:59 p.m. before the $3 late fee kicks in at midnight.
Also, please feel free to save $3 with discount code 3chainlink
Thanks much,
Ethan, Active Trans

Where were all these “civic-minded adults” last year when I was trying to stare down the Midnight Marauders, all by myself? I guess once you get a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Active Transportation Alliance its becomes necessary to shill for them at every opportunity. But frankly I feel no need to defend them. They should have stepped up in defense of their fellow fundraising organization but did not. So I guess that the fact that the ChainLink crowd has designs on doing the same to them is as they say, “karma“.

A Few Observations

Cycling Advocates are always quick to “pooh pooh” the idea of licensing for bikes. But when it comes to their fundraisers they cannot get out ID tags fast enough. They have tags and wrist bands in many cases and it is all to discourage people from “auditing” or “pirating” a ride. Just like the “cagers” that ChainLinkers seem to hate, they too are more than up to the task of being “takers“.

In fact it is my considered opinion that you could never sustain a movement for the installation of bicycle infrastructure in this country if it meant that anyone had to fork over cash contributions. This is a crowd that is simply beyond the pale when it comes to such things, unless of course it means drinking beer is part of the mix. They seem best suited to consuming alcohol while riding their bicycles and are the first to condemn “cagers” for doing the very same thing. How odd and yet so very predictable.