An Idaho Stop In “Real Life”

Background Reading


I was listening to Toni Preckwinkle this morning talk about mandatory sentencing and its impact on black and brown youths and it made me think of a statement I read a day or so ago:

Reply by Anne Alt 1 hour ago
+2 When we have infrastructure and laws that make sense for transportation cycling, more cyclists will follow those laws. The Dearborn bike lane is a prime example – significant decrease in red light running and fewer conflicts between different types of road users. Of course, we still have those charming peds who insist on standing in the lane, although there are fewer people doing it as Dearborn has become better established.

With more crackdowns happening, Idaho stop is long overdue.


Ms. Toni Preckwinkle

Ms. Preckwinkle was making the case that the justice system works only for those with the money and power to effectively secure bond while they await trial. She used the phrase  “the justice system is the nexus of racism and poverty“. And I started thinking about just how true that really is in our society when it comes to things like bicycling.

The Urban Cycling Community is overwhelmingly white and younger. They tend to live on the north side of the City of Chicago. Like the kids from the south and west sides of the city (whose neighborhoods are openly described as “shitholes” on the cycling forum which serves as the Fox News Source for Urban Cyclists) there is a patent disregard for the rule of law when it comes to something as mundane as obeying a stop sign or even a traffic light.

Our society is bound and determined to find ways to accommodate the wealthier classes in essentially breaking the law to suit their personal convenience. The threat to use an Idaho Stop Law is all about saving a few seconds (for bicyclists only) at a stop sign or a stop light. It is not a change in law that has any purpose other than to keep the wealthier classes out of jail or free of fines for willfully breaking laws that inconvenience them (in terms of personal time). But the law would probably be a mistake in practice.

An Idaho Stop Law Would Only Encourage This Kind of Bad Behavior

I watched in horror on Saturday evening as we made our way from the Native Foods Cafe north along Dearborn (ultimately taking Clark up to Belmont) as a cyclist in his late 20s and possible early 30s came flying past my vehicle wearing a Tickle Me Elmo costume presumably on his way to a Halloween Party. We were in a residential neighborhood with very nice buildings all around and up ahead at the intersection at the stop sign a cabbie was about to make a lefthand turn. Because the cyclist was in a hurry he decided to pass me on the right (with less than the 3 Feet of distance he probably wants motorists to give him when passing) doing probably 20-25 MPH. In front of me was another vehicle approaching that same intersection and about to stop.

The cyclist screamed past me and then the vehicle coming to a stop and had to maneuver between that vehicle and one parked just before the intersection. He never paused as he did an evasive maneuver and then lunged into the intersection only to have to once again take an evasive maneuver to avoid colliding with the turning cab!

He rode about a half block further and then suddenly hopped the curb and rode along the side to the southeast corner of a building where I am guessing he was late for his costume party. The Elmo costume was darling and ladies walking along the street were giving him compliments as he raced to lock his bike with a U-lock before entering the building. My first thought was that this was a delivery person who had a pizza or something that needed to get there “right now!” but as I came alongside this fellow I could see his face and body and realized that this was simply an Urban Cyclist on a tricked out fixie hoping to enjoy and party and probably someones company afterwards.

I probably should have taken the time to make the kind of photograph or even movie clip that the Fox New Source for Urban Cyclists Forum loves to post about cars parked in the bike lane or otherwise breaking the law. They do this because above all else they simply hate to be publicly identified as wrongdoers and seek to project that onto motorists in order to “shame them“.

Safety Is All About the Operators

Motorists and Cyclists are both subsets of the human species. It is really their individual behavior that either makes the roadway dangerous or safe. If both groups travel at or below the speed limit (or more importantly well within the limits of their ability to control their vehicle in all kinds of weather) things improve. It does not matter whether you are driving a bus or a semi or even a car or bicycle. You are either a safe operator or not.

The cyclist in the Halloween costume is obviously used to riding in the fashion he demonstrated. He is also prone to making misjudgments about his ability to avoid collisions one day. I just hope that we are not then forced to put up a ghost bike in his honor and name a street after him. Far better that he learn to ride with a bit of self-control and poise.