The Glass Ceiling Of Respect

Background Reading


Sounds Good On Paper, Until You See Cyclists In Action!

Sounds Good On Paper, Until You See Cyclists In Action!

ChainLinkers are nothing if not melodramatic. They recently got their knickers in a twist when the police started handing out tickets to them for riding on the sidewalk along Michigan Avenue. And of course the first things out of their mouths is that the cops ought to be handing out tickets to motorists for things like parking in the ‘bike lane‘.

The irony of that sentiment is lost on them because it would mean having to ‘think of themselves as something other than victims‘. And that would mean having to look up from your navel and notice that the rest of the world is functioning quite well in your absence.

Proof That These Folks Are Self-Absorbed

Reply by Anne Alt 1 hour ago
To the young female cyclist at LaSalle and Adams this evening:

I was crossing Adams as a pedestrian with the walk signal. You were westbound on Adams, flying through in the middle of a red light. You were riding right at me. As I put my hand up to suggest that you slow down and not crash into me, you said “fuck you.” Really?!?

Three strikes against you for being totally in the wrong: running the red light, not yielding to a pedestrian and being a jerk. As a fellow cyclist, I consider you an embarrassment to the rest of us. Thank you SOOO much for making the rest of us look bad, and for creating a potential hazard to someone (me, with a not-quite-healed ankle fracture) who couldn’t quickly get out of your inconsiderate way.

I could have made the very same observation as does Anne. In fact my limited experience has taught me that most of the time ‘amber gambling‘ with pedestrians in the crosswalk is a perfectly acceptable practice amongst these Urban Cyclists. Of course you can always get them to whine about how they just hate it when motorists do the very same thing. But you see motorists, especially those driving high-end German cars are reputed to be the worst!

Reply by Steve Weeks 58 minutes ago
I consider this the “glass ceiling” for bicycles as serious transportation. We will never get full respect on the street as long as significant numbers of us are flagrantly violating traffic laws.

Today I encountered a rider heading west on the Jackson Blvd bike lane. I said simply “wrong way, buddy”, but I don’t think he (or any of these self-centered fools) gives a shit. It’s sad, but I think the only way this state of affairs will change is if the police begin issuing tickets and/or impounding bikes.

Again, I have encountered this sort of thing so often that it surprises me when a cyclist actually behaves themselves. That is a sad fact. Recently at the intersection on Ashland where a Greek Orthodox Church is situated a block north of Taylor Street, a young woman riding her bike eastbound decided to ‘amber gamble‘ and rather than stop when the light turned red mad her left turn onto Ashland riding as fast as her little legs would carry her.

The cars alongside me were ready to ‘peel out‘ with the turning of the light. I was in the left lane and suddenly she was in front of me! I put on the brakes and watched in horror as she help up her right hand to admonish the cars to not run her over!

Stupid, stupid, stupid. But this scenario is repeated daily a thousand times over, by cyclists who claim to be experienced and yet act like chipmunks along a forest preserve trail. I can only assume that this is proof that somewhere in the Evolutionary Chain, humans and chipmunks are related.

Reply by Jeff Schneider 6 minutes ago
I feel pretty strongly about cyclists obeying at least the spirit of the law, as well as showing courtesy to everybody on the road. I try to do this. But you do realize that cars *are* considered serious transportation, in spite of all the dopey crap that drivers do (which kills 30-some thousand other people in cars each year). No dumb cyclist crap even remotely compares to that.

In this chicken and egg argument, I think it’s more often that good behavior flows from respect rather than the other way around.

Jeff is somehow trying to deal with the fact that respect always has to be earned. You do not walk out onto a football field, or enter a business room, or for that matter charge onto a battle field with the respect you think you deserve. Sorry that is now how things work.

You show that you deserve respect and you might just get it. But what Urban Cyclists seem to be counting on is having it without ever having to prove that they deserve it. Last Sunday was yet again another instance in which a perfectly good ride gets ruined because cyclists cannot behave themselves.

Rather than always whining, it should be the case that the Missed Connection thread is mandatory reading for every ChainLink Forum User. Then they should be forced to ask themselves why even they complain constantly not only about drivers, but about other cyclists.

And the answer to that will be that both groups cyclists and motorists as well as pedestrians all come from the same genetic pool. The only difference is that the slowest moving of the three are the pedestrians. They die at a higher rate than cyclists on our streets.

Motorists moving the fastest are the most vulnerable. They die at the highest rate of all and yet among the three groups it is cyclists who seem to feel that they are the most vulnerable of all. But again that is typical of Urban Cyclists. They have an overactive Drama Queen Gene and it shows.

Reply by Steve Weeks 7 hours ago
I agree with you completely. But as the “new kids on the block” (and, yes, I know that cyclists were on the roads before cars, but hardly anyone remembers that), we are in a sense under the microscope as far as motorists are concerned. The “dumb cyclist crap” isn’t likely to directly cause the demise of a cyclist here or there, but it sets a “tone” for how cyclists are seen by motorists… and *that* is where the danger lies. The car that knocks me off my bike may be driving carelessly (or angry) because of other cyclists he or she has seen recently doing “dumb cyclist crap”. I agree that respect engenders good behavior, but we as a group are perceived as not respecting motorized traffic, and to a certain extent not even other cyclists.
I don’t like the idea of police action (which is unlikely to happen anyway), but how do you suggest we improve our position?

Dumb Motorist Crap Is Most LIkely To Kill Other Motorists

Reply by h’ 1.0 6 hours ago
I agree with you completely. The “dumb motorist crapisn’t likely to directly cause the demise of a motorist here or there, but it sets a “tone” for how motorists are seen by cyclists and pedestrians… and *that* is where the danger lies. The cyclist that causes me to crash may be riding carelessly (or angry) because of other motorists he or she has seen recently doing “dumb motorist crap”. I agree that respect engenders good behavior, but we as a group are perceived as not respecting non-motorized traffic, and to a certain extent not even other motorists.
Just trying this to see if it works…

Actually the premise that doing ‘stupid stuff‘ while driving is inconsequential to the safety of other cyclists is patently false. The very most vulnerable people on the roadway are motorists. If you could convince them beyond a shadow of a doubt that the air bags, roll cages and collapsible front ends and side air bags were not enough to keep them safe they might act with greater prudence.

But having said that one wonders then why cyclists behave in a similar fashion and they in fact know that they cannot sustain collisions of greater than 15 MPH with any chance of escaping injury? I am convinced that there is some aspect of this which could best be understood were we to ever discover what makes chipmunks wait impatiently by the side of the trail before dashing across between bike tires at the very last moment.

And I am actually serious in this questioning. My guess is that there is something in the response of mammals like chipmunks and humans that is governed by the chaos and anxiety of highly stressful situations like urban traffic. There is far too much going on at once to process in a timely fashion. At least by the human brain (or for that matter the chipmunk brain).

Embedded systems in automobiles that use cameras to drive the newly announced driverless cars might just be the answer. Removing the human from the equation might just be the ticket.

Once Again, Traffic Is ‘Not A Zero Sum Game’

Reply by Steve Weeks 37 seconds ago
I see what you did there. 😉
But it’s not a completely symmetrical relationship, is it? Who has the power (horsepower), the momentum (massive), the numerical superiority, the “established” social status?

For whatever reason we keep attempting to view the problem of traffic safety through the lens of sizemomentum, numerical superiority and social status. But in the long run none of that stuff matters.

The problem is not the vehicle itself nor its speed or anything about it. The problem is inside the car or behind the handlebars or in the shoes of the pedestrian. Walt Kelly was correct in having Pogo correctly identify the enemy.

Walt Kelly & Pogo Earth Day Poster[15]

Pogo Earth Day strip[56]

Pogo Earth Day strip[56]

We Are Our Own Worst Enemies

While on the Four Star Bike Tour this past weekend I once again witnessed the fact that despite their best efforts, bicyclists are as stupid as drivers. What distinguishes them from one another is the size of their vehicles and the capacity (at speed) to inflict damage.

The key ingredients in the equation of what is wrong out there happens to be ‘impatience‘. When a cyclist trying to keep up with his peers on a Sunday morning ride ‘decides to run red lights‘ to avoid losing contact with them you know that something is amiss. This is identical behavior to the motorist who is intent on keeping ahead of the others on the roadway, regardless of the fact that the next busy intersection will mean a red light and a wait. It is sheer madness.

But the human heart wants what it wants. It will drive the mind to find ways to make that happen. And it often ends badly. Short of having an embedded system prevent you from doing ‘stupid stuff‘ it will take some attitude adjustment. Controlling the mind is what counts here. Deciding that you can and should take the time to allow a pedestrian to cross in front of you and being willing to endure the honks of the cars or the jeers of cyclists who cannot abide having to ‘lose their momentum‘ is what it will take.

But until then trying to shove the blame off onto motorists for the very same kind of behavior you exhibit is silly. If you are a spouse abuser the fact that an NFL running back is doing the same thing and he is wealthier and bigger and stronger than you are so of course he will be able to inflict more damage than you do on the fact of his spouse, does not excuse your aggressive behavior.

What many cyclists try to do is play the game where what they do does not affect as many people as what a motorist does.

Wrong! Let me repeat that, wrong!

If you manage in a drunken stupor to ride yourself into a hole in the pavement of a roadway under construction and end up being a quadriplegic how is that any different than having a motorist doing the same to you when he in a drunken stupor runs into you from behind?

The same number of people are injured. The same person is paralyzed for life. And no doubt some ambulance chaser will win for you the same amount of money ($1.2 million) to use to pay for long term care. But where is the righteousness in doing to yourself what someone else might do?