The ‘gods’ of Cycling Karma Are Hard Task-Masters Indeed…

Background Reading


So finally the ironic has happened with respect to Urban Cyclist Behavior. I have watched countless times as bicyclists both male and female hitch rides on buses, trucks and automobiles heading south along Clinton towards the UIC Campus. Every time I see this behavior I cringe. It looks dangerous and has in fact backfired on at least one or two erstwhile ‘skitchers‘ who lost their balance and thus their control and were crushed by the rear wheels of the vehicle who tow they were enjoying.

Of course the ChainLink Crowd is usually more than willing to turn a blind eye to this sort of behavior. Like Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment :

The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.

ChainLinkers who are in fact this weird amalgam of Tea Party, GOP and Skinheads understand this sentiment in their very depths. They will never ever speak ill of a fellow Urban Cyclist (unless of course they are contemplating having someone like me quote them in the future as the result of a thread conversation). But what the really hate are those who violate the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Rule of Urban Cycling. You can blow through as many stop signs and red lights as you can ‘safely‘ accomplish. But you must never flaunt the fact that you are doing so. This is like farting at the dinner table.

So We Are Supposed To Be Concerned Here…

Keep in mind that when people ‘skitch‘ usually they manage to use the same technique they use in avoiding the view of a motorist who is stepping out of their car when suddenly a bicyclist appears out of nowhere. A ‘Door Zone‘ collision occurs and a claim is filed and the cyclist gets some extra cash for their troubles. To ‘skitch‘ you also need to hide from the motorist. If you don’t then you run the risk of having them stop and get out and yell at you for hitching a ride.

So now the reverse situation takes place:

Jana Kinsman could have been killed in Logan Square area last night by driver and pals thinking they’re funny
Posted by Joe Sak on August 20, 2013 at 8:22am

Basically, some dudes in a purple tahoe grabbed her while she was on her bike and pulled her along next to the car while she was screaming for her life.
Here’s her twitter story, storified:
If anyone can get info or ideas for further help, please share! Be safe out there, friends.

And as usual there is as much over reaction to things like this than there is under reaction when they do it deliberately. How ironic!

Calling the Urban Cyclists’ Bluff

What happened here is normally thought of as Karma. Thousands of unwanted ‘skitchings‘ occur and every cyclists is aware of the problem but says nothing. Instead they worry about printing up t-shirts and posters demanding that motorists give them 3-Feet when passing on the left, but they persist in ‘skitching’ to and from their destinations while proclaiming to all that they ride for the healthful exercise a bicycle ride provides. Bullshit!

Reply by Julie Hochstadter 2 hours ago
oh my gosh…. oh my gosh.
At first I didn’t read the “could have” and my stomach sank.

Reply by Joe Sak 2 hours ago
Whups! Guess I’m a sensational headliner at heart
I’m very very very glad she is okay and it was bruises at worst

Reply by Brendan Kevenides 2 hours ago
Horrible. There appears to be a security camera attached to an apartment building at that intersection. Perhaps it recorded the incident.

Reply by Crazy David 84 Furlongs 2 hours ago
I hope they find these guys. Its a lot more than a mere hit and run…..

Reply by Heather 1 hour ago
WTF indeed. I actually now avoid Kimball and Kedzie from Logan Square to Albany Park in favor of side streets where I can because I’ve had so many hassles on those main streets. But it could happen anywhere.

Reply by Bert Travis 1 hour ago
Damn thats just senseless. Hope she’s ok. They need to catch those morons. Accountability is the only thing that will protect us

Reply by Serge Lubomudrov 1 hour ago
Geez . . . Maybe I should carry a gun after all (when I get one).

Reply by David Barish 1 hour ago
This was not a hit and run. This was an assault. I am glad to hear that Jana does not have tremendous physical injuries.

Reply by Anne Alt 1 hour ago
Jana – If you’re reading this, I hope that there’s at least one witness (or video, like the camera Brendan mentioned) that can help identify the thugs who treated you so horribly. What they did was just plain evil.

If you haven’t yet contacted the Crash Support Hotline, you might find it helpful.

Wishing you good healing and safe travels.

Reply by Joe Sak 1 hour ago
Thanks Anne, I suggested and linked it to her directly on Twitter as well “@reallylikeit”

Reply by Will 1 hour ago
+1 on the assault. But I’m sure a hit and run doesn’t count against Chicago’s violent crime stats, so it’s not a case CPD actually has to “solve”.

Reply by Tim S 1 hour ago
Happy to hear she escaped with only the injuries sustained. That is terrifying to think that there are people out there that find this behaviour acceptable.

Tim, the majority of the people who find this acceptable are cyclists. They ‘skitch‘ on buses virtually every day. The bus driver while not likely to suffer personal harm when a cyclist does this is certainly likely to have his driving record ‘dinged‘ through no fault of his own. And this is especially true if the fellow ‘hitching the ride‘ slides under his rear wheels. I liken this problem to what happens when people decide to commit suicide by train.

Neither the passengers nor the engineer deserve to have this happen to them. And yet there are selfish people who decide to end their lives and drag countless others into the drama with them. Karma eventually requires that some hapless rider be on the receiving end of ‘skitching‘.

So What Do I Want?

I get tired of the ambulance chasers who write eloquently about this or that mishap to a cyclist but turn a blind eye to what they know to be a problem in the Urban Cycling Community. There are more reckless cyclists out there than MFrank. His crime is that he openly admits his predilection for mayhem and that makes us uneasy. It in fact engenders downright angry responses to his admissions. As I said before we are all secretly hoping for a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Approach to our behavior. When we can we try and sound thoughtful by offering up notions like the Idaho Stop as a defense against blowing every stop sign in Creation and running as many red lights as our fat little legs will allow.

We are more than happy to put the lives of motorists in jeopardy as they play Atari Pong at intersections trying to avoid collisions with cyclists who simply cannot wait for the light to change and want to get through the intersection as quickly as possible. I watched this very thing this past Sunday on the Wright Ride. A middle-aged man decides that his fund-raising experience won’t be complete fulfilling unless he performs this maneuver during the course of the ride:

Urban Cyclist "Idaho Stop" Two-Step Variation

Urban Cyclist “Idaho Stop” Two-Step Variation

Had he been struck by an automobile crossing his intended path there would have been a wailing and gnashing of teeth on the ChainLink. How could yet another ‘innocent cyclist‘ be mowed down by yet another vicious motorist? And had this all occurred while I was waiting at that intersection I would have had to testify in open court to what I saw and have been given the ‘stink eye‘ by every Urban Cyclist sitting in the gallery. What is really not fair here is that for every incident like the one to Jana there are literally hundreds occurring to motorists who don’t even know that it is happening.

Who is concerned about their lives and the fact that the death of that ‘skitching‘ cyclist could have the same effect as it does on countless train engineers who have to live with the nightmare of watching their cab roll over the neck of a distraught person who decided to lay down on that track. How many engineers are going to be forced to live with the vision of a car of screaming toddlers clawing at the windows of their vehicle because their distraught parents decided to commit suicide and take them away from a hated spouse?

I want the Urban Cycling Community to begin first with the difficult job of cleaning its own house. I am not going to hold my breath waiting for this to happen. There are enormous social pressures that are brought to bare by this group anytime the Eleventh Commandment is broken. But they need to stop functioning like Republicans and a lot more like Democrats. Throw the ‘bad eggs’ under the bus. Kick them to the curb. Whatever it takes.

But it needs to be made clear that putting someone else’s life in jeopardy for the sake of a joy ride is not less harmful than what happened to Jana. We have to cease this idiotic segmentation of the transportation pie into us versus them. This is not about motorists versus cyclists. This is about ‘bad drivers’ regardless of the vehicle who do not belong on the road. They are a danger to us all!