The Chicago ChainLink’s ‘Brush with Greatness’

Background Reading


Total Commitment: The Chicken and the Pig

The Chicken and the Pig

The Chicken and the Pig

A hen and a pig were talking in the barnyard one day. The hen was so proud and talking on and on about how glad she was that she and the pig helped the farmer and his family by supplying them with ham and eggs for their breakfast. The pig, however, was less enthusiasic about it. He replied, “That’s easy for you to say. For you it’s just a donation. For me it’s a total commitment.”

Romans 12:1 tells us:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.”

© Todd Heisler/The New York Times Malala Yousafzai last Friday at the United Nations, where she urged world leaders to provide free education for all children.

© Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Malala Yousafzai last Friday at the United Nations, where she urged world leaders to provide free education for all children.

For my generation it was ‘Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney‘. Three young men who dared to ‘push-back‘ against a society which was designed to deny Southern Blacks the chance to vote. A few months ago we were faced yet again by another person (Malala Yousafzai) who dared to ‘push-back‘ against a centuries old tradition to deny young women the chance to learn to ‘read and write‘. But then today yet another person ‘to strike a blow for freedomwas made known to us by Howard Kaplan:

Reply by h’ 1.0 33 minutes ago
Michael, all of the gains that bicycling has made in this city in the past 15 years have happened because someone spoke up about something that wasn’t good enough, or safe enough.

Have you ever considered using your bicycle as your primary transportation, rather than just for sport and fitness? It’s a very different landscape out there if you have to face the same challenges day in and day out, and unless you’ve been in Adam’s shoes, I don’t think you’re going to be able to relate.

So now to that list of ‘pushers-back‘ can be added that of  Adam Herstein. When I read this moving account by Howard of Adam I was moved to tears. Just think all of the past 15 years of ‘progress‘ we owe to people like Adam. And since Adam ‘the whiner’ Herstein has gained a well-earned reputation as a force with which to be reckoned I would bow to the notion that Adam is the primary reason for the ‘change’ we see in the Chicago Bicycle Landscape.

Of course we do not wish to leave out Howard, he has developed a forceful ‘whine‘ as well. It’s just that modesty prevents him from doing much else other than to give voice to the ‘whining‘ on the ChainLink whenever he gets bored. So in a way he is as responsible for ‘progress‘ as ever was Adam. A tip of the hat to both.

Let’s Begin At The Beginning

Trucks on the Lake Front Trail
Posted by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) on July 16, 2013 at 11:08am

Trucks on the Lakefront Trail

Trucks on the Lakefront Trail

Nearly every morning, I witness 40-foot trucks driving on the Lake Front Trail. The trucks take up the entire width of the path, and knock over tree branches onto unsuspecting joggers and bikers. They are creating a dangerous situation by funneling two way running/biking traffic into the narrow shoulder, while blocking view of the oncoming lane. I should also note that the trucks are moving, and not just parked on the trail. How are they even getting access to the trail, and who is continuing to allow this to happen?

Reply by Serge Lubomudrov 19 hours ago
I guess the owners of that restaurant you can see in the distance have friends in high places

Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 19 hours ago
There are plenty of Park District pickup trucks and industrial-strength lawnmowers every morning as well. Why are trucks banned from Lake Shore Drive, but allowed on the adjacent bike path?

Reply by Duppie 13.5185km 19 hours ago
I’ve seen them too. They get on @ North Ave and drive down to the Oak Street Beach cafe.
How else will they restock that restaurant?

At this it is instructive to say that Rhymes with Puppie has said it all. Like the making of meat for use in a restaurant there are cattle cars (like the ones I rode behind this weekend) hauling hapless animals to their deaths. And yes the slaughter houses stink and are probably less than sanitary, but we must have our steaks and bacon and whatever, so something not quite pristine has to happen before that plate of piping hot meaty goodness gets set before you at the restaurant.

Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 19 hours ago
Cargo bikes, helicopters, giant push-carts, I don’t care. It’s not our problem how they restock, and they shouldn’t burden the public – who has a right to the trail – with their private business needs.

Reply by Serge Lubomudrov 19 hours ago
There is an entrance from the Lake Shore Drive to the LFT located much closer to the Oak Beach. Again, it’s only a guess, but it probably costs money to use it. It’s cheaper to irritate some cyclists, who are hated by everybody else, anyway. And what can they do about it?—Nada.

Now the truth of the matter is that what is suffered by the cyclists is “irritation“. It is what I feel when I have to ride around cattle cars. I feel irritation. Adam is feeling irritation. But what is missing here is the understanding that the reason that Oak Street Beach and the North Avenue Beach and volleyball area have to be restocked is to provide that hot steamy goodness we call steak. This is the real world, not some playground for the folks who should be working at their desks and giving their all for the paychecks they receive but are instead musing about trucks along the LFP in the middle of the business day.

Reply by Serge Lubomudrov 19 hours ago
Magic powers are not needed. It is just usual (especially, in my experience, in Chicago) I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-others attitude. It wouldn’t be a problem if they were re-stocking their supplies at night, when there are very few people on the trail. But, again, it would probably cost them more.

ChainLinkers Are Very Sensitive People

ChainLinkers may look scruffy when you meet them at a Chicago Critical Mass Ride or as they appeared at the Tour de Fat parade this weekend. But when you shove aside all the body hair (on both males and females) and peel back the tattoos and other disruptions to their flesh (i.e. nose rings and ear lobe stretchers) you are likely to find beneath a very sensitive and caring person who just wants to be happy and less irritated.

Why should their ‘whinings‘ sound like the musings of a Trust Fund Baby to you or me? As Howard originally pointed out when you choose to ride your bike as primary transportation that raises your ‘suffering‘ to that level spoken about in the Book of Romans (Romans 12:1). Few folks who ride merely for exercise and enjoyment will understand the epic levels of suffering that come the way of a person like Adam whose commute is by his own admission about 5.5 miles. I bow in shame at ever having thought him a simple ‘whiner‘.

Reply by Madopal (7.6 mi) 19 hours ago
It’s not just the LFT. I see landscaping trucks on the North Channel trail all the time, many of them contractors, not park district. They’re usually the worst at blocking the whole trail, too. I also love when they’re doing it between 8:30 and 9, peak commuting time.

Once again proof that that the workers of the world hate bicyclists.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 19 hours ago
Thousands of people use the lake front everyday, for a space that small to serve that many people stuff has to come in and out daily . If you want concession stands and restaurants to be stocked, garbage cans emptied, grass mowed and other maintenance done, then all of those vehicles have to get to the lake front somehow. It makes sense to do all that in the morning before things get really busy.

There are many people in the Cycling Movement who are not as easily irritated as those who are destined for ‘sainthood‘. This almost reads like a Park District brochure or at least the musings of someone with Common Sense.

Reply by Crazy David 84 Furlongs 19 hours ago
This is the very kind of attitude displayed by car drivers that is so annoying to the bicycling community. Its a limited number of vehicles that need access in order to provide services to the businesses along the LFT. For the society as a whole, this is the safest and most convenient time for the stocking to occur. Imagine the outcry if they stocked at night and some Night Ninja without a light and helmet ran into the truck at night. We expect others to deal with us and let us use our share of the infrastructure. We should do the same thing. But, no doubt, the self-centered Critical Mass mindset is going to kick in again.

My suggestion to the Web Administrators would be to yank this guys membership. But he is probably white, so that won’t happen. And he rides at least 10.5 miles on his commute. That must mean that he is a really wonderful person. So perhaps he should be allowed to stay.

Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 19 hours ago
I understand the need, but wouldn’t late at night or really early in the morning be a better time than morning rush hour? The trail isn’t just used by beach-goers.

Reply by Crazy David 84 Furlongs 19 hours ago
Not really. Firstly, its a Beer Truck and the state may have laws limiting the time of distribution of the beer. Secondly, its a question of safety. Would YOU want to be the poor schnook delivering beer at 3 am in the morning on an isolated lakefront trail? We would see multiple robberies every month.

Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 19 hours ago
No it’s not. This is a private business monopolizing a public facility for their own monetary gain. It’s the same as a truck blocking a car lane to do unloading, or a theatre blocking the bike lane to provide a valet service. It helps a very select few while inconveniencing/endangering everyone else. The business could have found a less intrusive method of accomplishing their needs, but instead they chose the easiest path while ignoring the needs of anyone else.

I am always amused when Socialists begin to argue Capitalistic Theory. Which brings me to the question about bike theft that has been raging in San Francisco.

The Problem Is ‘Who To Blame’?

Bicycle Theft In San Francisco

Bicycle Theft In San Francisco

If but for a brief moment perhaps we can consider a far weightier problem than trucks on the LFP. What about bicycle theft? This is a problem that has a solution that every bicyclist can get their heads around if only they really want to.

So let’s first of all consider the problem. Theft is up some 70% over the last 5 years. This means that the rate is climbing some 14% per annum. In dollars alone this represents some $4.6 M that is ‘lost‘. This does not count the money lost to the municipality for the removal of damaged bikes from sidewalk racks.

Ok. So if we have a 70% increase and we have switched off our Socialist brains in place of trying to think like Capitalists then it is clear that there is a demand for stolen bikes and bike parts that has risen at least 14% each year. We next have to ask ourselves where is this demand coming from? Are we suddenly seeing a surge in curiosity about bicycles from automobile drivers? Are they buying these things in shady neighborhoods and riding around all day long with them stuffed in their trunks?

I can think of two explanations that readily come to mind. We are only now coming out of a recession. If a hipster wants a new bike he either has to save up enough to buy one (which severely cuts into his beer money) or he can always place a claim against his homeowners insurance and get the bike paid for by his insurance agent’s company. I kinda like the latter notion. Knowing this crowd as I do it seems the most plausible.

But trying to give my cynical nature a rest let’s simply suppose that the theft is real. The next question is difficult to consider. Who then is buying the stolen merchandise. Motorists? Nope. Bicyclists. Bingo!

So in essence if we stop buying stolen parts the profit margin drops and eventually the thieves move on to something more lucrative? So we really do have to ask why then do we create a market borne of our greediness and then complain when it flourishes? I’ll leave that one for Adam Herstein to consider. Let’s get back to the whine fest now in progress.

Did Someone Remember to Bring Popcorn?

Reply by Crazy David 84 Furlongs 19 hours ago
Technically right, morally wrong. It is a private business working as a concessionaire for the Government. They have to operate within the rules set forth in their contract. The Government decided that this facility would serve an important purpose on government land. And, unlike your other examples, this is the only realistic way from them to obtain supplies. You haven’t actually suggested any realistic less intrusive alternative. No. Its the typical Critical Mass self-centered me me me attitude which makes it hard to achieve any real and meaningful progress toward good bicycling.
And don’t start counting numbers, you will likely lose. At Oak Street a lot more people buy beer and lay on the beach than use if for a morning commute. Ban beer trucks, because they restrict bicycles, could lead to ban bicycles because they conflict with all of the beach goers. But hey, confrontation works so well… or at least makes me feel good… so why bother looking for real and effective solutions.

My guess is that Crazy David is itching for one of the soon to be opening Church of Urban Cycling Theologian jobs. Did he really use the word ‘morally‘? How quaint. This is a crowd that prides itself on never having to actually stop at stop signs and when it gets the urge to runs red lights but mind you all of this is done while being ethical. That is to say ‘morally right‘.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 19 hours ago
The trucks are few enough and far enough between that they don’t really bother me. Having to pass a couple of delivery trucks during my morning commute barely registers on my list of daily annoyances. As for the park district trucks, lawn mowers, and other landscaping trucks, that work really needs to be done during daylight. The disruption to morning commuters isn’t a big enough problem to be worth investing in the sort of light systems it would take for grounds crews to work at night. In my Wilson to Loop commute I see maybe 3 service trucks on busy day, I don’t see that few trucks as a major concern.

Reply by Andrew Bedno 18 hours ago
I agree Adam, they put me at risk daily, DON’T belong, and put grossly intolerable wear on our paths. It’s not our problem if they need to deliver by handtruck, so be it. The same holds at Fullerton for deliveries, and for contractors all over. In the few interactions I’ve undertaken, or even just eye contact with drivers, there’s obviously the usual they’re just cyclists and joggers entitled indifference to us second class citizens which precludes constructive cooperative resolution. I encourage a continued mission of determining and contacting the appropriate regulating bodies, as there’s no possible way these monsters are actually allowed on the path during major commuting times as they currently are.

OK. Now the conversation has given rise to the hyperbole of an erstwhile videographer of all things.

Reply by h’ 1.0 17 hours ago
Better solution– do away with all restaurants and concession stands on the Lakefront Path.

Dear readers, we now have the Nuclear Option.

Reply by Crazy David 84 Furlongs 16 hours ago
Yes. Of course. Because YOU don’t like it, even though 10’s of thousands of Chicago resident’s do, we should get rid of it. Great idea. Wanna guess who’s near the top of the list of “better solutions” for many drivers….

Now be honest. Do you really think these folks are worthy of bike lanes? Put aside all the hype about the safety of these things. And ask yourself are these the petulant, arrogant snobs they appear to be or am I being irritated?

Reply by Crazy David 84 Furlongs 16 hours ago
Let me guess. You rid in Critical Masss.

  1. They don’t put “grossly intolerable wear” on the paths. The number and frequency is sufficiently small that this is not a real concern.
  2. Assuming, for a minute, that they were willing to deliver by Handtruck, are you willing to deal with all of the angry park district patrons having to deal with a significantly more expensive product. And, of course, this is an impractical suggestion. Perhaps we should require all bicycles at night to be led by a person waving a red lantern.

But hey, if triggering a backlash against bicyclist’s makes you feel good, go right ahead. After all, feeling good is more important than being effective.

And Now We Have Reached The Blathering Stages

Urban Cyclists Show Hypocrisy By Not Criticizing Divvy Delivery Methods

Urban Cyclists Show Hypocrisy By Not Criticizing Divvy Delivery Methods

While these yokels are otherwise engaged dear reader let’s consider yet another real world problem. After all if we are going to suggest cargo bikes for beer delivery along the Chicago Lakefront Trail I would like to suggest that all Divvy bikes be delivered across the city in like manner. You know, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

Not one single member of the Church of Urban Cycling who wishes to remain in good standing will ever touch this third rail. It’s always fine to harp on people of color who “salmon” but it is not OK to ask fellow white cyclists to schlep Divvy bikes around by pedal-powered means, is it?

Hark. I Hear the Voice of Appeasement

Reply by in it to win it 8.0 mi 16 hours ago
I want my lakefront path dearly.
I also want my Bud Light at the concessions dearly.
I believe the lakefront is multi-purpose.

Clearly this fellow is not tough enough for the coming Revolution.

Reply by Tank-Ridin’ Ryan 13 hours ago
Helicopters? Really? And where exactly would they land?

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 13 hours ago
I take back everything I’ve said defending the delivery trucks. I’m bored and want to watch a helicopter supply drop of beer to Oak Street Beach.

Reply by Tank-Ridin’ Ryan 12 hours ago
Not really. If they had deliveries by giant push carts, I’m sure you’d whine about that too. (People complain about the Flintstone mobiles after all.) And remember – a truck can get down the path and do its business (and be out of your way) faster than a “giant push cart.”

Reply by Reboot Oxnard 3 hours ago
You guys need to learn to share the trail. There are solutions to the delivery truck lumbering down the path in the middle of the morning commute but they are expensive and inconvenient – which means they aren’t better solutions. Those trucks are there because a huge block of park users, far outnumbering the bikers, want them to be there – or, more precisely, want to be able to buy a beer and a burger while they play in the park. If there is a better solution available, the impetus to find it might start with Critical Masshole Whining but it will end with somebody deciding to be constructive and look for it.

Being a petulant child only works if you need your nappies changed or if you have over-indulgent parents unwilling to tell you ‘No.” Rest assured that the Park District and the hordes of park users are willing to tell the bikers to fuck off and die if we can’t find a way to share. Perhaps, instead of indulging your inner child with the endless, “waaa, trucks, waaa, cars, waaa, pedestrians” whinge, it would be more constructive to turn your outer adult loose on finding a solution that works better for everyone who wants to use the park.

Using the apron instead of the trail is very problematic. From the north, it doesn’t extend to the Cafe. From the south there is no vehicle access. At any time, it’s liable to be cluttered with sleeping/sunning people (who care no more for your inconvenience than you do theirs) and they don’t move or don’t move quickly. You may not care about the problems it presents but rest assured the grownups in the room do.

Scheduling the deliveries in the middle of the night is also very problematic. It’s illegal, not that this counts for much in Chicago but it often does in Springfield. It’s far more expensive in so many ways, not to mention the fact that the restaurant workers, delivery truck drivers and cops required to effect the night deliveries will be more than a little resentful at having to give up their day jobs because the bikers couldn’t be bothered to share the trail for a few seconds on their vital to the needs of the community commute.

Think solutions, not complaints. You folks aren’t stupid, if you know of a rational and affordable solution that meets the needs of all the park users, put it forth. Otherwise, shappap and peddle.

We Close With This

On-SarcasmNever ask yourself why we need protected bike lanes at a time when schools are being closed. Simply keep that small picture of Adam and his fellow ChainLinkers near your bed stand at night so that you know whose ‘irritation‘ you wish to see soothed. Methinks that had this crowd been on the bus when Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney were heading South to help register voters, the Civil Rights Movement would have had a far different outcome. And I do not mean for the better. Now that I think of it, they did me a great favor by kicking me off their forum. I would have grown frustrated trying to wrangle with these Trust Fund Babies.

It’s at times like these that Saint Hagman brings me comfort.

Steve, That’s the Best You Got?

Sorry, but I awoke to one of the High Priests of the Church of Urban Cycling making a fool of himself. There are times when he and a few others of his ilk ought to stop and take stock of what they are saying. This is one of those times:

Reply by Steven Vance 4 hours ago
I wanna do a little math. You say you encounter 3 trucks (each weekday, I presume, as you said commute) from Wilson to the Loop. Let’s say you exit LFT at Monroe. This is 6.8 miles according to Google Maps, so 13.6 miles roundtrip.

In a 2011 report on Lakefront Trail counts [PDF], Active Transportation Alliance noted that 1,435 cyclists were counted passing between Oak Street and North Avenue beach on a weekday between 6-9 AM.

Let’s assume that 3 trucks are seen every 13.6 miles (your round trip) and that half of the people who cycled past this count location in the morning make a trip that long. The other half, making a trip of 6.8 miles, see 1.5 trucks.

718 x 3 trucks = 2,154 truck encounters each weekday, plus
718 x 1.5 trucks = 1,077 truck encounters each weekday, equals
3,231 truck encounters each weekday.

That blows.

Fortunately someone from the Church of Urban Cycling itself helps to shed some light for the would-be expert in all things “infrastructural“. (Note: I am guessing that some of Angie Schmitt’s brand of lunacy has been rubbing off on the dear boy. Stand clear of her my friend.) So a grandmotherly type wades in with some simple observations:

Reply by Lisa Curcio 6.5 mi 1 hour ago
I ride every day from Addison to Monroe starting at about 7:30 a.m. I have seen one truck this week. Last week I saw zero. I don’t remember the week before. Nice math. Unless other people are seeing the trucks I should be seeing, though, it does not work.

Is it not clear why we need data at the IDOT level? If the supposed know-it-alls are this far afield doing some simple spit-balling what happens when they try and apply what they are supposedly good at to the solutions needed in a city like Chicago?

Reply by Michael B 37 minutes ago
More numbers. In all the probably thousands of posts about the LFP that were ever made on this forum since it’s inception has this ever been mentioned as a problem?

Reply by Dann B (5.25 mi/8.75 mi) 13 minutes ago
The math is bad because it makes the assumption that every rider sees every truck every day. There is no evidence for this just as there is no measurable way to quantify how many riders actually see the trucks. Short of interviewing each rider as they exit the path, I can’t think of a way to quantify that percentage.

Herein Lies The Weakness of the Church of Urban Cycling

We are a good deal like Climate Deniers. We have these gosh-danged blinders on and it hurts when too much light shines in. All that we are currently equipped to say is “me needums more protected bike lanes“. And then we lumber off into the darker corners of our lair and gnaw again on the bones being handed into us by our keepers. Steve Vance is a trained infrastructure guru. Clearly he however is not a mathematician. And this bit of tomfoolery ranks right up there with his suggestions for how to replace the elegance of the Chicago Lakefront Trail Flyover with a bullshit (excuse my French) half-assed piece of noodling that he should have jettisoned when it crept forward from the recesses of his brain. Sometimes it does not pay to doodle what you don’t understand.

But understand this. Not everything that an Urban Cyclist believes or dreams up is good stuff. By their very nature they make better complainers than they do problem solvers. In fact this very thread shows little in the way of solutions being offered and is very much overloaded with whining. That is the problem that the Urban Cycling Movement faces. It is composed of mere humans, not supermen. And so long as that is the case it will need to see its ideas as being just part of the equation and not the solution in and of itself. Leave the sure certainty of thinking to the Tea Partiers of the GOP.

Otherwise you are going to find yourselves hoisted on your own petard as were the deficit hawks who suddenly discovered that the spreadsheet being used by the Harvard-trained Economists to argue for austerity was all a crock of crap. And frankly when you get too big for your britches, that is exactly what happens.