Yet Another In Our Series on ‘ChainLink Brushes with Greatness’

Background Reading


Whenever you ask people about how broad their concerns are for humankind as a whole they always say that it is vast. In fact the one thing that Liberals prize most often about themselves is their ability to ‘connect‘ with just about anyone. So I found this next tale a bit telling:

Took 2 rounds in Englewood this morning (paintball, thankfully!)
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!

ChainLinkers live for these sorts of reports. It helps to adjust their ‘hero meter‘ to know that they have survived against all the odds the ‘wilds of Chicago‘. This is the kind of experience that puts a great deal of ‘daylight‘ between Urban Cyclists and the Spandex Wannabes of the Suburbs. This is essentially red meat for an Urban Cyclist.

To illustrate their concern the rest of the crowd offers up these condolences to the injured rider:

Reply by Skip Montanaro 12mi on July 3, 2013 at 9:12am
I hope your wounds heal quickly. Paintball gun or not, that should be reported to the police.

Reply by Alex Z on July 3, 2013 at 9:42am
Good lord. This happened at like 8 in the morning? Glad you are okay.

Reply by dan brown on July 3, 2013 at 10:41am
I’m not sure about whether you are really really gusty or crazy to bike through englewood. I agree – file a police report. glad you weren’t hurt worse. and please tell us you don’t ride through there at night ?
p.s. this supports one of my theories that the day before a holiday is always a more-dangerous-than-usual day to ride. why is that ? why do crazy people get even more crazy before holidays ?

Reply by Julie Hochstadter on July 3, 2013 at 10:44am
my brother just shared this with me

Reply by Jim Shaw on July 3, 2013 at 11:02am
Ha! I think I may be insane… I’ve never gone through at night, but there’s a lot going on in the streets of Englewood on a Summer evening around 6PM! I really didn’t epect anything like this first thing in the morning!

Eventually the conversation always turns to the “me too” phase. This is where each person tries to identify with the original poster by showing that they too have weathered the worst that the city has to offer and survived.

Reply by Louie Louie on July 3, 2013 at 11:07am
Sorry to hear that. I had an ice-cream bar thrown at me in the west side but they missed hitting me. I just became a commuter this week, I’m sure I’ll have stories to tell pretty soon.

Reply by Beans ~ 14 mi. on July 3, 2013 at 12:59pm
I’ve had people spit at me from their cars and throw an occasional bottle at me. I haven’t been shot at (that I know of).
What the hell is wrong with people?
Heal well Jim Shaw.

Reply by Haddon on July 3, 2013 at 1:15pm
Your the type of patient phlebotomists dream about.

Reply by Juan 2-8 mi. on July 3, 2013 at 3:30pm
It seems to me, bad nieghborhoods just amplify how most of society here regard bicycles and bicyclists as silly playthings. Glad you are Okay.

Reply by Lee Roy Carrier on July 3, 2013 at 4:19pm
If not too far out of your way, I would suggest…
North on Kedzie through Marquette Park.
I took it from Alsip to Logan Square.
Not awesome, but rideable.
Lawndale too, but I used Kedzie on the regular.

Reply by Julie Hochstadter on July 3, 2013 at 4:57pm
I had some kids throw records at me once. No joke… I guess obsolete (or older) technology is the new rocks :))

Reply by Serge Lubomudrov on July 3, 2013 at 5:02pm
Gee . . . I hope no one has ever been hit by a bottle trown from the Lake Shore Drive. Or has it happened?

Reply by Michael A on July 3, 2013 at 7:31pm
That was an impressive shot, some of the modern paintball markers can shoot up to 25 balls a second. The only thing that saves us is they are very expensive to buy, and operate. 150ft is about the maximum range so I would think they were closer judging from the fact it drew blood ( I played competitive paintball for many years and you can tell by the welt it leaves how close and how fast the paintballs are fired.

Sorry this had to happen to you, all we can hope is that one day they fire paintballs at the wrong person and get some lead tossed back in their direction.

Reply by Jim Shaw on July 5, 2013 at 8:48am
You’re right. Upon re-calculation the distance was probably more like 85 feet or so.

Well with Jim Shaw’s position in the pantheon of Urban Cycling secured we turn to another hapless rider.

Now The Real World Arrives

New ghost bike for slain Oak Park teen
Posted by h’ 1.0 on July 18, 2013 at 6:39pm…

So now we wait for the empathetic responses…

Reply by OLB 0.1 6 hours ago
I don’t know if this makes me more sad or angry.
I sometimes ride E-W in the area at a similar time (I live less than a block from North Ave but W of Austin), but I go out of my way to avoid this neighborhood.
Whatever the reason for being out, nobody deserves to be assaulted. Or worse, as this young man was.
My heart goes out to his family. All this senseless violence too often reminds me how little time we all have.

Damani Henard

Damani Henard

Yep. Just a single condolence. Why? You could ask that question all day long every day and be met with blank stares. It is simply that the lives of people of color in this city (even those on bicycles really do not count as much as those of their white brethren). Some Liberals would take exception to this summation but the level of response tells the real story.

In fact if you simply search the ChainLink Forum for the outpouring of sorrow and grief at the death of Bobby Cann you will find it to be in startling contrast to that show this Oak Park teenager. We are a segregated society and the same fears and hatreds that lie just beneath the surface of non-cyclists is present in cyclists as well.

In fact that is what makes it very painful to listen to cyclists who spew dislike of motorists as “the enemy” when in fact it is not our modes of transportation that separate us from one another but rather our selfishness. We are not merely the drivers of expensive automobiles or used 1970s bicycles. We are not simply people on foot along the sidewalks. We are people period.

We bleed when we hit one another. We should never allow the lie that “bicycles don’t kill, cars do” become the byword of the Urban Cyclist Community. But it has. We watched in horror as the entirety of the Chicago Urban Cyclist Community did to the life of an elerly suburban woman, what it has done to Damani Henard.

A Coven of Cowards

Barbara Pagano Courtesy of Glueckert Funeral Home

Barbara Pagano
Courtesy of Glueckert Funeral Home

When Barbara Pagano died at the hands of a teenager riding around Lake Arlington this month, there was virtually a black out on the news. It was a few days alter that a couple of lesser luminaries in the Church of Urban Cycling were quoted but no one took the time to do as Ron Burke had done for Bobby Cann and write a real press release. There was no memorial ride by cyclists who were angered at the death of a woman on foot when a youthful cyclist hit her. No indignant outcries. Just silence.

No one really counts in the cycling world except white cyclists from the North Side or failing that a white one from the far south suburbs. No cyclist who kills a pedestrian is ever to be mentioned or acknowledged because it puts the lie to the notion that “bicycles don’t kill“. We are in desperate need of reinforcing the lie that Randy Cohen tells that our ethical lawlessness is nobody’s business but our own.

But it is not and never will be.

A white 'ghost bike' appeared at the intersection of Leclaire and North Avenue in Chicago over the weekend. Damani Henard, 14, of Oak Park was shot and killed riding his bicycle July 3. Photo courtesy Yolanda Paige

A white ‘ghost bike’ appeared at the intersection of Leclaire and North Avenue in Chicago over the weekend. Damani Henard, 14, of Oak Park was shot and killed riding his bicycle July 3.
Photo courtesy Yolanda Paige

Thanks to the person who took the time to mount the ghost bike for Damani. Every time we take the time to show concern for someone else it means a great deal to the world. If we can ever get past the navel-gazing that is so common in humans to look beyond ourselves and our paintball injuries to see that there are folks who are actually dying from real gunfire it will be a good day indeed.

Until then we will have to keep struggling with a self-centered group of High Priests in the Church of Urban Cycling who cannot be bothered with memorializing a little old lady from the suburbs because there is no money in it. When Bobby Cann dies we can churn that angst into memberships for the Active Transportation Alliance.

There are evidently no such perks when a kid from the ghetto or an elderly white lady from the suburbs dies. These people are marginalized. They really do not count. They are not part of the pantheon of road warriors whose paintball injuries deserve lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth. We are certainly not guilty of ever putting our suffering into any real context.

We are the true heroes of the 21st Century. When they write the history of this period it will be the paintball injuries that make the narrative, not some lady on foot struck by a bicyclist and certainly not some kid shot down in the ghetto.

Their lives do not matter as much. There is no money to be made from mourning their passing.