You Want ‘Room Service’ Too?

Background Reading


Here is a collection of responses from recent ChainLink threads:

Reply by Christine (5.0) on Monday

Cycling is healthy. It’s better to have a healthy population. For employers, their employees will take fewer sick days, and their health insurance premiums will go down. For family members, their loved ones will live longer.

Cycling is cheaper than owning a car. And it also limits distance/how much one can buy at a time. While this does mean that some people might fill the void with ordering online, it may also mean that they may shop local (rather than driving out to the suburbs). Plus, without car payments/maintenance/etc there’s more disposable income to be wasted elsewhere.

Cycling is relaxing. While it can be stressful (near misses with cars, non-cyclists in bike lanes, etc), in general I think it improves people’s moods. I would much rather be helped by a shop person who had a lovely bike trip to work, than someone who was grouchy from driving through traffic.

Cycling Is Cheaper Than Owning A Car

The Urban Cycling Community likes to find consensus on its talking points. I’ve read these three (or something like them) many times over. But despite their constant pushing of these themes to the general public, reading the ChainLink itself (where their “virtual” hair has been “let down“) you get a very different (and to my mind a far more realistic and frankly brutal picture of the horror that city cycling can really be). But rather than me putting words in their mouths we’ll let them speak for themselves:

Reply by Skip Montanaro 12mi 44 minutes ago
The thing that bothers me most about this is that individual bike thefts (or thefts of parts) appear not to be that big a deal, at least for the police. Taken as a whole, however, there is a huge volume of stolen bikes/bike parts circulating around. Bike lanes and other infrastructure are great to have. I’d like to know what the city and police are doing to reduce theft though. There certainly doesn’t seem to be much visible effort.

Edit: There was a flurry of activity several months ago when BART out in California posted pix of bikes and saddles they had recovered. That page is gone from their site now, but thankfully the Way Back Machine snapped a copy:…

There are a number of decent bikes, but a few stand out. The first is a Fuso (made by Dave Moulton). About two-thirds of the way down is a no-name silver bike with what looks like Campy NR components. A couple below that is most of a Terry. In the saddle photo at the bottom you can see several Brooks or Brooks-lookalike saddles.

These people are going after good stuff when they can get it. I hope the Chicago PD doesn’t think all the bikes that are stolen were originally sold at Wally World and are worthless.

Now this (bike theft) is a constant theme on the ChainLink. People have spent time putting together websites to actually collect the data from the various thefts so that others can track down their property. Skip is responding to a thread where a ChainLinker who works on the North Side of the City (presumably not a “shithole” a term that the original poster is fond of using to describe the South and West sides of the city). This level of theft that we see in Chicago is great enough the responder is wondering why the already overloaded police force (trying to help keep a lid on gun violence in the city) is not more proactive in keeping his saddle, front wheel and frame from being hijacked by other members of the cycling community.

What is clear from all of this is that the Urban Cycling Community has done a very poor job of dealing with its less wholesome members. After all bike thieves sell their ill-gotten-gain to other cyclists otherwise why bother stealing the stuff in the first instance. So the real questions here are:

  • Why are Urban Cycling Community members stealing from one another? and the corollary would be…
  • Why is the a market for stolen merchandise that help support the original theft?

My suggestion to Skip is that he help figure out the answer to that second question. If the ChainLink is the place where all of the Urban Cycling Community rallys to reinvigorate themselves, then this would be the place to begin the conversation on why there is even a market for stolen stuff. Who exactly is buying it? Answer that question and the first question become irrelevant, because failing a market the thieves will move on to other targets.

Finally how many times do you have to buy another bike or pay for yet more stolen parts before it becomes clear that you are approaching the cost of a beater can in terms of the total cost of ownership?

Cycling Is Relaxing

When I first read this particular response to a thread on “Near Misses” I thought for a faint moment that it might be a hoax. But assuming that it is not (and since Steve responded to this reply I assume he took it seriously) let’s examine the implications of this request.

Reply by Mollie 18 hours ago
Any plans to expand it to include the LFT? No one seems to listen to complaints about how hazardous it is in areas where it is nowhere near wide enough to accommodate the cyclists, runners, tourists, beachgoers, and other traffic that use it. If someone’s volleyball nearly hits me so that my own safety and the safety of those around me is in danger, I wouldn’t mind having a place to capture those incidents, too.

CC is very much needed on the roads. I’m glad you’re doing this.

The Chicago Lakefront Trail is crowded on the weekends. It is full of people walking two and three abreast, pushing strollers and generally not caring who is behind them and trying to get around. Add to this oncoming traffic of the same sort and you have a very busy thoroughfare. Now add runners, bicyclists who are at varying speeds from 8-10 MPH to upwards of nearly 20 MPH and you have a recipe for some potential disaster. Along the stretch just north of the North Avenue Beach and just before the Theatre on The Lake where all of the volleyball action takes place and you have a stretch that would be wise to avoid if you are Mollie.

But frankly the number of times that a volleyball lands on the trail itself is far too numerous to count. It would be like trying to tally the number of times a ChainLinker on a brakeless fixed gear bike runs a red light. I could ride the Dearborn Street PBL every days of the week for a year and run out of video space trying to document the number of times this happens. It would be shear madness to even attempt to document this activity on Milwaukee, Elston and certainly on Damen.

And so long as there are no license plates or other identifying marks required on bicycles this behavior will continue. Cars are far less likely to run red lights in the same two-step manner as bicycles do because their behavior would stick out like a sore thumb and someone would be certain to try and report them using the license number.

So Mollie here is my suggestion. Given that cycling is so relaxing you should “chill out” and ignore the volleyballs. Better yet travel slowly enough along the Chicago Lakefront Trail that volleyballs can be adeptly avoided with ease. And if you still feel verklempt why not take an alternate route. You are after all living and riding in a very large metropolis. It is crowded and chaotic. Deal with it.

Cycling Is Healthy

Now I won’t even go into the subject of the kinds of pollution that city dwellers in general sustain just walking around town. Having to do something even more strenuous like riding a bicycle aggravates the lung-related issues of cycling. But evidently paint is somehow a new problem affecting the health of cyclists.

Posted by Jim Shaw on July 3, 2013 at 9:06am

© Jim Shaw Paintball Injuries Sustained in Englewood by Cyclist

© Jim Shaw
Paintball Injuries Sustained in Englewood by Cyclist

It’s always something on the Southside, baby! 3 weeks ago my bike was stolen from a CTA station. Today, riding up Damen around 63rd or so, I got hit by something in the right shin. There was stuff whizzing by my head, I thought maybe someone was throwing rocks. But then I recognized the “Pop” of a gun, and took a really painful round in my left hand. For just a second I thought, “Shit, this could be live rounds!” The “pops” were too soft to be live (unless a silencer) and then I saw the paint (mixed with blood) running down. I gotta’ rethink this bike commute from the far southside thing…

But I give them props for marksmanship. I was going about 17-18 mph and they nailed me from 150 feet away! I suppose a skinny white guy on a bike is just too inviting a target. But next time it could be live rounds. Shit!

Look folks I am generally sympathetic with patients who understand that their diabetes is a self-inflicted wound. I even find it endearing when a cigarette smoker who has developed throat cancer and had his larynx removed helps produce a PSA on the dangers of smoking.

But Urban Cyclists are all about appearances when you shine a scrim light on them and the cameras start to roll. Then everything out of their mouths sounds as if each mornings ride is such an increase in their health quotient that sunshine is literally flying out of their anuses. And that is the furthest thing from the truth.

The Read Truth About Urban Cycling

Reply by Kevin C 14 minutes ago
I still think the priority for police (or administrations) has to be crimes against people as opposed to crimes against property. 7/3-7/7: 70 shot, 11 fatalities? Under those circumstances, I’m fine with the CPD showing a little less concern for the occasional bike or bike part disappearing.

There is a great deal that “the bike community*” could do to reduce bike theft and increase recovery rates, if they took some responsibility for the problem.

Fewer than 1/3 of the reports to the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry contain a serial number. Despite our efforts to make people aware of this and even put a mechanism in place for registering bikes BEFORE they’re stolen, blah, blah, blah…, that percentage has remained relatively constant. Most police departments consider a serial number as being the single most important piece of information for identifying an item as stolen property as well as reuniting that piece of stolen property with its owner.

20% of reports to the CSBR are bikes which weren’t locked. NO LOCK includes the universe of bikes left in backyards, on porches, in vestibules of condos and apartments, in garages, in front of stores (only for a minute, heh-heh), in storage rooms, etc., but STILL, a fifth of the bikes being stolen aren’t locked! This just in! Unlocked bikes are really easy to steal.

35% of reports to the CSBR are bikes which were locked only with a cable lock (cable with padlock, keyed cable lock, combination cable lock). Might as well secure your bike with a bow. 12-inch bolt cutters get through cable locks in less time than it takes the owner to open the lock with their key or combination.

So you want to cut bike theft by more than half overnight? Write down your serial number. Don’t leave your bike unlocked. Don’t lock your bike with a cable lock.

*however you define that term.

When you read about the lack of responsibility that Urban Cyclists take for themselves and their property you have to wonder if they think that of all the people on the planet they are the only ones who really deserve room service.

Just living in the City of Chicago is sometimes a mixed blessing. You can experience great art and music at various venues and then return to what you hoped would be your bicycle only to find an empty space and perhaps a half of a front wheel lying on the ground.

You have a great deal of outdoor activity along the Lakefront and in the parks as well. It can be a fun place to live if you ignore the gun violence, theft, rape and murder. And if you had not heard the number of police is fewer than in the past. And that makes your missing saddle a little less pressing for a police person to assist in its location and possible return.

After all the city has had 50+ schools closed because money is tight and I hardly think that your saddle is a high priority even for them. Certainly no one in their right minds is going to spend time scanning video clips looking for teenaged or slightly older thugs who are looking to score enough money to get their next fix.

And let’s get real about the “Near Miss” database. Come on, Mollie! This after all is the place where by the estimations of just about every ChainLinker alive the chances of dying on the roadway just going home warrants a “Missed Connection” thread to allow folks to decompress. No wonder ChainLinkers are so “touchy” about any descriptions of anything having to do with cycling that is not written and read with rose colored glasses.

If you really want to keep up the pretense that cycling is all the things Christine says it is then you are going to have to being by “redacting” the threads on the ChainLink which offer evidence to the contrary. And then you will need to have someone help you curb the honest “exposes” of Divvy that you find so offensive. And while you are at it you will need to convince IDOT that there really is a safety gain to be had by the various permutations of the Bike Lane that have cropped up around Chicago.

Instead you have StreetsBlog and GridChicago trying to strong-arm the “Truth“. That simply is not going to work. Why would any reasonably sane populace forge ahead with more bike lanes that even the ChainLink crowd complains about the operation of when we need more police, fire and teachers and for that matter neighborhood school buildings. Are you folks daft?