Urban Cycling Is At A ‘Crossroads’

Background Reading

Summary

Reverend Corey Brooks has a story to tell. Huffington Post writes:

Rev. Corey Brooks Walks Across America To Battle Urban Violence

Known as the “rooftop pastor,” Reverend Corey Brooks is preparing for a walk across the nation in hopes of raising awareness, along with 15 million dollars, to end urban violence in Chicago.

According to NBC 5 Chicago, Brooks will start his four month walk from New York’s Times Square on Tuesday, June 5th. From there Brooks will stop at major cities across the nation hitting New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Pastor Brooks’ last fundraising effort involved living for three months in a tent on the roof of a hotel previously used for drug trade and prostitution. The 450,000 dollars he raised, including 100,000 from producer Tyler Perry, allowed him to buy and demolish the hotel in hopes of building a community center in its place.

Brooks aims to use the walk to solicit donations to build the community center in one of the most violent neighborhoods of Chicago, calling it Project Helping Others Obtain Destiny (H.O.O.D.)

Likening his campaign to end urban violence to the battle of David and Goliath, Brooks preached to members of his church, New Beginnings Church, “David has never had a fight like this before. It is the biggest fight of his life. This is the biggest challenge in the history of the church.”

Brooks will be accompanied by his two sons: Cobe who is 11, and Desmond Marshall who is 22. Excited and nervous about this trek, Marshall told the Chicago Tribune, “It will bring attention to this major epidemic,” which he understands to be very important.

Though they will miss their pastor, members of the church told Chicago Tribunethat they will be united in support of his cause.

“(The trek is) not going to be easy,” said Juanita Burton, 49, of South Chicago. But “someone needs to take a stand.”

Letting ‘The Dark Side’ Prevail

It began when community residents decided not to cooperate with police. It has resulted in a general lawlessness that has made us the Murder Capital of the Midwest. Like the gritty urban areas of Chicago where folks have for decades sometimes stood on the sidelines out of fear of gang retaliation control was eventually lost, the Cycling Movement is overrun by lawlessness.

When you see parents with children in the pre-teens on fundraiser rides like the Wright Ride or the Four Star Bike Tour encouraging their children to actually blow through intersections with stop signs, it give you pause. What has happened that we are now indoctrinating our children in this fashion? But it is not merely an isolated few who behave this way. It has percolated into the soil of bicycle clubs where your average weekend bike rider has become accustomed to ignoring traffic controls.

This blog entry appeared on the Active Transportation Alliance website today:

Former Biker Rant

Former Biker Rant

Like this author I see not only commuters behaving badly but Ride Marshals who have volunteered to work the Four Star Bike Tour for the past two years have demonstrated that they too are among the worse offenders. So the question becomes how do we deal with this situation.

Reverend Corey Brooks decided to take a stand against the lawlessness in his community. This is not some publicity stunt because frankly should he irritate the wrong people he won’t merely suffer the indignity of being kicked off the Chicago ChainLink Forum (as I was for speaking out against what is going on in the Cycling Community) his courage could cost him his life.

Groups like the Active Transportation Alliance are sadly a lot like the fearful souls that live in areas with a great deal of gun violence. They keep their heads down and try not to draw attention to themselves while continuing to raise funds for their salaries and projects. But Reverend Brooks has decided not to knuckle under to the thuggish behavior in his community. Active Transportation Alliance should do the same.

We Need Leaders Not Merely Fundraisers

Of what earthly value are protected bike lanes that end at intersections where the stop signs and red lights situated there are ignored? If the growth of cycling actually occurs and the majority of the vehicles on city streets are bicycles, will intersections become places where bicyclists wrangle with one another over who has the right-of-way? Will deaths occur when cyclists decide to ignore the dangers and plow through pedestrians in walkways and cyclists crossing with the green light?

We do not need folks who are merely good at writing the occasional letter to John Kass to complain about his latest comments thus encouraging cyclists to donate even more money. We need leaders who understand that at the end of the day the kind of world we create will affect our children. We may actually have children who must unlearn the legal behaviors taught them in grade school in order to ride with their parents bicycle club. That is a daunting prospect, but I have glimpsed just that sort of thing as I said before.

In each of those cases the mother was the one herding her offspring through an stop sign intersection without stopping. And at least one mother did the same thing in Oak Park (during the Wright Ride) as her family crossed an intersection controlled by a traffic light. This has simply got to stop. Bike club leaders have to stand up and say something.

I know that the Chicago-Area Cycling Clubs are loathe acknowledge this problem but they must. It is not meaningful for us to invite new riders to join our ranks if we are not willing to own up to our shortcomings in this regard.