The Urban Cycling Community is Full of Cowards

Background Reading


Barbara Pagano Courtesy of Glueckert Funeral Home

Barbara Pagano
Courtesy of Glueckert Funeral Home

Whenever the Urban Cycling Community gets in a lather about anything you can always count on an article by the Chief LapDog John Greenfield followed by his handler Ron Burke. Case in point is the article that was written by John Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune that was mildly critical of some of the fees that accrue when you run overtime in the course of using Divvy the new bike rental system.

Frankly the things that Hilkevitch talked about had been hashed over in other articles written by reporters from the New York Times. We’re all grownups here and we know what is supposed to be talked about when things go wrong. It is how the folks who “run the show” gain feedback when something goes wrong.

But then there is the tragic death of one Bobby Cann. Ron Burke waxed eloquent in his remarks and rightly so. But the Active Transportation Alliance made specific room for an excerpt of a piece by Steve Vance that appeared in StreetsBlog. This too was the right thing to do. You definitely want to get the word out to motorists that they have to “see bicycles” and “yield the right of way to these more vulnerable vehicles“.

But where all of these individuals fail miserably is when they should be equally ready to talk about lapses in bicycle etiquette no matter how small that results in the death of an even more vulnerable user of our trails and streets, the pedestrian.

So contrast what happened when 74-year-old Barbara Pagano of Arlington Heights was knocked down by an 11-year old cyclist who was part of a group riding around Lake Arlington. How many lines did John or Steve pen about this situation? How many supporting blog entries did Ron Burke pen in support of either of his LapDogs? I still cannot find any mentions whatsoever about her death at all.

Why is that? Was she too old? She was white, so that at least made her death a worthwhile subject of conversation. Was the cyclist too young? Was it because she did not die anywhere in the city limits of Chicago? Frankly there are no good reasons for this omission. Just please don’t let someone like Ms. Schmitt turn the account into something that reads “74-year old woman tries to mow down young cyclist and loses her life in the process“. That kind of yellow journalism we can do without.

A Suggestion For You Knuckleheads At Active Transportation Alliance and StreetsBlog

Bobby Cann Memorial During Critical Mass Ride

Bobby Cann Memorial During Critical Mass Ride

Read the comments written in the editorial piece by the Daily Herald board. Have the simple decency to at least acknowledge this piece someone in your publications and apologize for not having placed it there earlier. Then get off your collective butts and find some way to reinforce the notion that “training and education” is essential in all situations where the general public is using bicycles. And while you are blathering please have the decency to mourn her death as sincerely as you did that of Bobby Cann. That seems only right and just.

Bike lanes are fine but they are not substitute for people know how to say “on your left” (for which Active Trans took the time to announce a PSA). But Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is exactly analogous to the situation at Lake Arlington. If for no other reason than to drive home the fact that “bicycles can kill” you should pause in your self-congratulatory musing over how many damned miles of bike lanes have been installed and consider how lucky we are that more pedestrians have not been run over.

I made a video of my travels along Damen and Milwaukee Avenues a week or so ago. During the filming of that video a ChainLink reader (no doubt) blasted through a stop sign at which we were waiting (while several pedestrians already in the crosswalk were making their way across). He could easily have knocked either of them over and done serious damage because he was traveling so very fast.

But instead we have Active Transportation Alliance putting up fluff pieces on their site about how well bicycle specific stoplights are working to keep riders from doing exactly what this particular rider did on camera. I for one am more than tired of the propaganda-styled journalism and blog writing that is going on to make everyone in the Urban Cycling Community “look good“.

Come on guys. Hilkevitch is not the enemy. Your Pollyanna-ish reportage boggles the mind. But because it is vapid and self-congratulatory it is frankly stupid and deadly. It allows cyclists to keep up the myth that their actions only have consequences for themselves alone. It allows perfectly sane folks to see nothing particularly deadly about running red lights and blowing through stop signs, while at the same time ranting because people of color “ride against traffic“.

But the real insanity is that during every single Chicago Critical Mass riders deliberately “ride against traffic” by crossing the middle line of a two-way street and riding into oncoming car traffic. And guys like John Greenfield try and defend the practices of the CCM. He has even offered to escort folks who attend CCM so as to serve as a guide to this mayhem. And finally Ron Burke refuses to even acknowledge the fact that he has Ride Marshals for the Four Star Bike Tour who break as many Rules of the Road (presumably as an act of defiance) as they can.

Why all the duplicity?

Lies the High Priests of the Church of Urban Cycling Tell

Lies the High Priests of the Church of Urban Cycling Tell