How Can Cyclists Feel Safe If The Streets Are A War Zone?

Background Reading

Summary

Crecensio Campos gives his daughter Verenice, 10, a push as she pulls her little sister Aleli, 4, in an alley along the 2700 block of West Bloomingdale Avenue on Thursday, April 9, 2015 in Logan Square. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Crecensio Campos gives his daughter Verenice, 10, a push as she pulls her little sister Aleli, 4, in an alley along the 2700 block of West Bloomingdale Avenue on Thursday, April 9, 2015 in Logan Square.
(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Verenice Campos, 10, helped her four-year-old sister Aleli into the trailer of her pink bike Thursday afternoon to visit their brother. Her father, Crecensio, gave the girls a push over potholes and through puddles in the Logan Square alley.

Early Wednesday morning, a gunman fled through the same alley after shooting and killing Mikal Johnson, 24, here in the shadow of the Bloomingdale Trail. The linear park along an old elevated train line through West Side residential streets opens to big expectations this summer.

The house on the east corner is for sale, boasting a chef’s kitchen and a $675,000 price tag. Inside the home on the west corner, a mother awoke around 3 a.m. to three gunshots. She hadn’t told her children and asked not to be identified.

“Sometimes when you hear the gunshots, it’s quiet, but I heard people talking shortly afterward,” she recalled Thursday. From her bedroom window, she watched the aftermath.

“I saw a group of people by this pole and one guy was saying: ‘Wake up, bro. Wake up, bro. Come on, man. Wake up, bro!’ And there was a girl there that was crying and calling his name.”

In minutes, police and an ambulance arrived. A neighbor texted to check on her, but the commotion ended soon. “If somebody’s shot, you don’t want to go out in the middle of it. You could get shot, too.”

(The day after a fatal shooting on their block, police tape is gone and residents live, work and play. Annually, more Chicagoans are shot and killed than there are days in the year. Across the city, neighbors wake up and react differently to this ongoing violence. Visit The Next Day collection for more.)

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune


TakeAways

This week alone we have heard from the members of the Chicago ‘Whine and Jeez’ Cycling Forum that there are nasty things happening to keep Chicago cyclists less safe than before.

  • An Alderman wants the city to relocate the Kinzie Bike Lane. Horrors!
  • The StreetsBlog crew has decided that maybe the complaints about the Red Light Camera program were not all that unrealistic.
  • Wanting cyclists to use reflective paint, clothing or lights is an affront to their Constitutional Freedoms.

But frankly whether we add another single inch of bike lanes in the City of Chicago is unimportant if we cannot keep our residents ‘safe‘. Gun violence is insidious. Who can actually claim to need to even want a protected bike lane down a street in a neighborhood where the likelihood of getting shot is so very high.

Every time the StreetsBlog crowd wants to stampede people into fighting for more bike lanes they roll up the statistics on deaths of pedestrians and cyclists. But never once have I recalled seeing an article on how many people are dying on our streets from bullets.

These knuckleheads are concerned about the speed of cars, but evidently not the speed of bullets.

Annually, more Chicagoans are shot and killed than there are days in the year.

It is high time that the Urban Cycling Movement got its head out of its anal cavity just long enough to focus on the real problems of Chicago rather than their manufactured ‘victimhood‘.

When the Bloomingdale ‘606’ Trail is completed it will run near the neighborhood cited in the article. Think about it. You could have a brand new trail with lots of families walking and biking along it and still be unable to avoid gun violence.

What difference does it make if your new housing complex is TOD if you cannot leave it without fearing for your life?

It is time to ‘get real‘ about what really matters in a city this dysfunctional!