Even-Handedness : The Nemesis Of Urban Cyclists Everywhere

Background Reading


One cyclist hits a pedestrian and it’s national news.
That should tell you something about how frequent an occurrence this is.

Peenworm “8 mile” Grubologist (Chicago ChainLink Forum)

I guess the idea of ‘Vision Zero‘ is something that escapes some bicyclists. The fact that even one death or serious brain injury occurs at the hands of a cyclist is horrific. There is nothing inherent in the design of a bicycle that should ever excuse even a single death!

If you really want to understand the depth of denial in which the Chicago ChainLink Forum members are mired you only need to do a SEARCH for either of these two names:

  • Irving Schachter
  • Stuart Gruskin
Pedestrians cross a bike lane on Dearborn Street near Jackson Boulevard during the morning rush hour in Chicago. (Photo: Alyssa L Schukar for USA TODAY)

Pedestrians cross a bike lane on Dearborn Street near Jackson Boulevard during the morning rush hour in Chicago. (Photo: Alyssa L Schukar for USA TODAY)

The simple fact is that neither of these two human beings exist in the world inhabited by the Chicago ChainLink Forum. Both were killed as pedestrians in the City of New York. Pedestrians do not ‘count‘ in the world of Urban Cycling. Pedestrians are those strange beings who cause a good cyclist to have to look up from his iPhone texting session to acknowledge that someone is in the crosswalk.

The solution to cyclists for pedestrians ‘being in their way‘ is to demand of CDOT that the following painted signs be emblazoned on the crosswalk itself: LOOK BIKES!

Of course the simple fact is that pedestrians and motor vehicles outnumber bicycles by such a great margin that it might be saner to have written in the ‘bike laneLOOK PEDESTRIANS! But having that sort of thing written on the pavement would imply that cyclists have some sort of responsibility to be aware of others.

We simply do not!

There Are Two Simple Rules In Urban Cycling

  • Always assume the role of ‘victim‘. It is an essential part of the group narrative that if we are run over by a turning truck we never allow anyone to question that we had any part in the event, other than as an unwitting victim.
  • We keep up this charade by always trotting out these two things:
    • If you ever hear a motorist say ‘I did not see them‘ you always presume this as an ‘admission of guilt due to negligence
    • The corollary to this is that ‘if you cannot see you must not proceed‘.

But what does one do if the ‘victim‘ is both a cyclist and the ‘guilty‘? That my friend is the quandary that has been bugging the moderators of the ChainLink Forum for days. If you cannot ever bring into question the degree of culpability of a cyclist (especially when tangling with a motor vehicle) then how does one even begin to talk about a situation in which a jogger (who is also an avid cyclist) is run down by a 17-year old cyclist?

The simple and reflexive solution is to adopt the posture of the NYCBikeSnob. Complain that the person who notified you of the wrongdoing of a cyclist was breaking your balls:

As for the incident itself, naturally I’m disgusted, so learning about it first from an NYPD detective who felt like breaking my balls was particularly vexing.  Sure, motorists do this and worse pretty much every single day, but that that doesn’t diminish my disgust one bit.  The very worst Freds and Tridorks–in fact the very worsts cyclists period–are the ones using the parks to launch their personal hour record attempts, and if this is the same Jason Marshall’s Strava account (which I’m fairly sure it is) then it looks like he makes a habit of it:

Marshall's Strava Activity Page

Marshall’s Strava Activity Page

In fact he appears to have set the above “achievements” yesterday, perhaps with visions of Jens Voigt dancing in his head, which is the same day he plowed into that poor woman.

That is seriously fucked up.

I’m loath to implicate Strava in any of this.  Yes, I have a strong dislike for Strava and all it represents (in particular this sort of riding) that goes past simple annoyance and borders on a moral objection.   But it certainly did not invent the sort of selfish, moronic, abjectly fuck-tarted weenie-ism that compels cyclists to speed through the city’s most heavily-used neighborhood green spaces and tourist attractions in the middle of the day, in beautiful weather, at exactly the time people head to the park.  Instead, it simply capitalizes on it, and fairly shamelessly.

None Of These Apply To Cyclists

The important thing to keep in mind is that when you are riding a bike none of these things applies to your situation:

  • There are no side and rear view mirrors that limit your ability to see what is behind you. You simply swivel your head or scan with your eyes and you can see directly what is either behind, alongside or in front of you. Truckers and motorists do not have this luxury.
  • Roof lines and roof supports do not ever block your view of pedestrians or other motor vehicles which might be at an intersection. And most assuredly your rear view mirror (which you do not have on a bicycle) does not block you view of a car waiting on the corner to your right.

So how does a cyclist manage to run down a woman or a man on foot?

Head Up Ass The 'ChainLink Prayer Position'

Head Up Ass
The ‘ChainLink Prayer Position’

Well to understand this dynamic you have to unfold yourself from the traditional Urban Cyclists Prayer Position long enough to allow the blood to flow to what is purported to be a cyclists brain. I believe the jury is out on this but being a cyclist I am not in a position to judge.

What I do know is that cyclists have the same rules of operation that apply to them as would a motorist:

  • You are never allowed to say ‘I did not see them‘ or better yet, ‘I did not mean to‘. Of course you could and of course you did. You are simply uttering an ‘admission of guilt due to negligence‘. You can thank Anne Alt for enlightening me on this point.
  • The corollary to this is that ‘if you cannot see you must not proceed‘.

So this would mean that if you were a cyclist who ended up a quadriplegic because you rode your bike at night down a dark street drunk as a skunk and hit a barricade that it is your fault because you knew you could not see the hole in the ground where the work was being done, so you should never have proceeded, right?

None of the ambulance chasers on the ChainLink Forum will of course find either of these notions palatable as applied to their clients. I get that. But the fact remains that bicyclists and motorists come from the same gene pool.

There might be racial and gender differences. There might even be class differences. And of course the two might be traveling at different speeds relative to their ‘victims‘ both both groups are able to kill. Pulling out of your ass the excuse that what a cyclist does is less terrible because of the numeric differential in the numbers of deaths caused by motorists versus cyclists is really lame.

Vision Zero demands that no single death goes uncounted. Killing is killing. The rules we apply to motorists apply also to ourselves.

 So I’ll Ask The Question Again?

Is there something inferior in the humanity of Gruskin and Shachter that would justify or at least explain that not a single syllable has been written about either on any of the hundreds of stupid, worthless threads that have appeared on the ChainLink Forum over the past several months?