Thursday 20 February 2014 3:00pm
For some people, cycling is a healthy way to get around. For others, it’s a thinly-veiled excuse to act like a self-righteous, affronted jackass as much as possible. I think this Chicago woman who lashed out a car commercial shoot partially in a bike lane falls into the latter camp. Worse, she did it in the lamest way possible.
I’m not exactly sure what it is about putting someone on a bicycle that causes the parts of the brain responsible for secreting agressiveselfrighteousatonin to go nuts, but it seems to happen. Maybe it’s connected to the inner-ear balance mechanism?
Photographer Brad Sillars says he was helping out with a commercial shoot for an unnamed Teutonic luxury car maker when this happened:
I was assisting my good friend Jeremy Cliff yesterday on a shoot for a well-known German premium car maker. We were shooting on the lakeside bike trail in Chicago near North ave beach. We had a permit to be there and even had a CPD escort. We were shooting an angle that had us taking up a good bit of one of the bike lanes, but not so much that most people couldn’t pass through with ease.
Anyways, one very special lady decided to ride past and proclaim “geeze you assholes are blocking the whole lane??” To which we replied “we have a permit to do so, I hope you have a great day. Watch out for the puddles!”
We carry on our business but some time later this woman returns and decides to throw the water from her bottle out on us, our gear, and the 2015 demo car as she rides
passedpast. Little did she know that our police escort was watching and jumped out of his car and immediately detained her. She about shit her pants as the officer threatened to have her arrested and in jail over night. He eventually let her go after the humiliation, but not before I snapped some pics.
For me, the infuriating thing here is not the overblown rage over what seems to be, at best, a pretty minor inconvenience, but rather the half-assedness of the attack. Water? From your bike’s little drinking bottle? Come on, lady. If you want to be the dickhead, perpetually angry cyclist stereotype, do it right! There must have been dog crap around you could have flung, or at least commit and fling yourself on the hood, maybe yanking off a wiper or grille badge or something.
What was she expecting to happen? A few drops would moisten the car, which would then burst into green flame as the whole crew collapsed, screaming “Why? Why? Why did we partially block this bike lane for a little while? Forgive us!” and then they’d break down, sobbing, and bodily carry the woman and her bike to her destination, whereupon they’d pledge their lives to creating a better culture for cyclists globally.
I bet she at least imagined that outcome, just for a second.
Normally I would have expected to have read this story on the Chicago Urban Cyclists “Whine and Jeez Club” Forum. As the author of the article says there dis a certain air of arrogance and entitlement that fairly follows the patrons of this internet forum in the manner of an odor of vomit on a drunk who has “slept it off” in the stoop of his apartment building overnight. It is not a scent that one would want to have bottled and sold.
What is very surprising is the way in which Urban Cyclists try to justify their actions in situations like this knowing full well that someday we Chicagoans are going to be reading about a “stand your ground” case over something as silly as this. The incident should never have happened.
Had this been an episode of Chicago Fire being filmed at that location I doubt that there would have been only a partial blocking of the trail. In fact the whole place would have been littered with trucks and lighting equipment for a hundred yards or more. I know this because I recently drove through such a scene on Jackson Blvd just east of Ashland where an episode of that very show was being filmed. In fact I watched it later on television and enjoyed every minute of it.
If I had come across this photo-shoot I would no doubt have stopped and watched intently and even grabbed a few images of my own of both the car and the photographers going about their work. They might have even bothered to ask about my bicycle since it is a long wheelbase (LWB) recumbent. And like most bikes it has handlebars that allow me to steer around anything in my path.
That often includes bicyclists (along that very stretch of the trail) who have stopped and decided to hold a conversation right in the middle of the trail. Or a cyclist who decided to stop and grab bite to eat from their day bag and instead of moving their bike off the trail, laid it down and sat on a nearby bench, oblivious of trail etiquette. I might have been indignant but why bother.
If you live in a city like Chicago, you have to learn to “deal” with people. There are always cyclists who have a training schedule of some sort that requires them to fly down the Chicago Lakefront Trail at 20 MPH on even the busier days, despite their being people with small children promenading along the stretch of beach nearby.
I checked to see what the previously mentioned forum had to say in “defense” of one of their own behaving so badly and as usual the comments runs from mocking tones to indignation over the temerity of anyone to “use their trail“.
But that sort of thing is usually a smoke screen for their behaviors when violating someone else’s private property.
It is clear that when it comes to “getting into a huff” Chicago’s Urban Cyclists take a backseat to no one. I think they live and breath for a chance to be indignant.
The Old Double Standard
If you want to see how Urban Cyclists regard not just trails but the streets themselves join them on a Critical Mass Ride the last Friday of each month. And as you ride along think to yourself how their behavior belie their indignations when others do something they do not like on the Chicago Lakefront Trail. Something that is both legal and for which a permit was requested and received.
Then ask yourself why riding against traffic on a two-way street is not both more dangerous and offensive than anything perceived during the photo shoot? But keep in mind that much of what masquerades here as Activism is what might actually be called your garden variety Hooliganism. Something which your average teenager can be expected to engage in. But these folks have “aged out” of that excuse bracket. They are just daft.