We cyclists have a very nasty habit of trying to paint motorists into corners every chance we get. But frankly anything that is wrong with motorists is probably wrong with cyclists. The most common trait that these two groups share is:
- A seeming sense of entitlement
- A arrogance of speed
Like it or not when you get pedestrians on a MUP or in a crosswalk we cyclists begin to exhibit the very same traits towards them we find so offensive in drivers towards us. This should come as no surprise. But it is difficult for any single group to admit to itself that it is as guilty of ‘bad faith‘ as any other.
In fact before long the folks who feel that they are victims in the bike lane, begin to be unaware of just how frightened pedestrians in the crosswalk or on MUPs are of them. Our language even shifts from sharing to the idea that pedestrians with strollers or on roller blades or walking hand-in-hand are simply ‘in our way‘.
The Bloomingdale Trail (i.e. the 606) was a bit of a disappointment to lots of cyclists because of the number of pedestrians who were ‘sharing‘ their path. For that reason lots of cyclists have shied away from the path feeling that the ‘congestion‘ would not be necessarily pleasant.
But others have made special trips to see this new (but vastly overpriced) modern marvel. And as some have pointed out even thought the congestion has died down, it still is not their sort of place to ride. I understand the sentiment. I much prefer the southern end of the Chicago Lakefront Trail for that very reason.
But does that mean that I should be disdainful of pedestrians using that trail portion to the north of the Loop? I don’t think so. A year or so ago a group of cyclists must have been rather dismissive of a very large number of African-Americans enjoying the parks just before 47th Street.
My wife and I came along and some 1,000 people deliberately rolled down the terrain to stand across the path in a blocking movement. I recognized what was going on and fortunately we are heading back from a tour of the Wicker Park area and so could avoid the trail beyond this point.
The problem is that cyclists are as guilty of tunnel-vision where others are concerned as their motoring counterparts ever were. Not only are the two ends of the trail geographically separated by the Loop but they are racially distinct as well. This crowd was evidently reacting to some rather rude behavior on the part of cyclists who were clearly not from the area.
This problem though is a lot deeper than just race. Cyclists like motorists are faster than their companions on the roadway. Motorists are dismissive of bicycles loping along at paltry speeds (compared to theirs) and we are the same way with pedestrians. In fact I wonder all the time why Strava™-Idiots take the chances they do on MUPs to speed along with much slower pedestrian traffic all around them.
But the fact is that they do.
Crosswalks Are Battle Zones
To my knowledge no pedestrian has ever blundered into a cyclist knocking them off their bike and killing them. But this has happened numerous times with cyclists being the ‘bad guys’.
The problem is that cyclists (like motorists) are loathe to use their brakes. Perhaps cyclists are more guilty of this than motorists since they have to deal with the dread loss of momentum when they brake.
So rather than slow down they try to aim their vehicle between pedestrians in the crosswalk so as not to hit anyone and yet not having to slow down either. The end result can be lethal. I watch this happen countless times a week.
We are simply ‘greedy, entitled, arrogant, SOBs‘ when it comes to having things our way. We want no laws that we do not welcome to have to apply to us. That would include those pesky red lights and stop signs. But the really odd thing is that rather than ‘spreading the wealth‘ with automobiles we find our sphincters tightening until there is an audible popping sound when cars disobey the law. Why is that?
I guess ever subculture needs to feel that it is above the law in many ways. And we are definitely a subculture that has no end of self-inflated ideas about our value to society. And it is because of this over-valuation of ourselves that we become blinded to our sins.
We spend an evening every year honoring the dead cyclists who died at the hands of the automobile drivers in our area. But do we even give a seconds thought to the pedestrian deaths we caused? I sincerely doubt it.
In fact cyclists are aghast to even have this subject broached. How dare they be compared with motorists, whom they all know to be the ‘Spawn of Satan‘. But in our polarized world where people are willing to kill one another over their aspirations for an education or their religious choices or just the color of their skins it should not come as a surprise that we are willing to separate ourselves from others based on our transportation choices.
But that is the nature of the world we live in. We trade videos of violence being perpetrated by ‘the others‘ with glee. And should someone post one of us doing something equally stupid we get that sphincter pressure again and storm off to find a bottle of ale to drown our anger in.
People Be Wary Of False Prophets
There are no sins committed by motorists that we too are not guilty of. Our bicycling advocates are however quite unwilling to dwell too long on that fact because well, it means they have a more difficult time getting us to contribute to their vision for the solution to the problem.
And when that solution means ‘eradicating the other guy‘ I shake my head and recognize the ‘Nazi Final Solution‘ for what it is. Never mistake the idea of removing automobiles from the roadways as anything other than ‘removing human beings‘ from it.
That was wrong in Nazi Germany and it is certainly wrong now. If you have a violence problem in many places of the world you round up the people you think are the problem and ‘exterminate‘ them. That is not a solution.
If we are having problems on our roadways, then let us think of meaningful ways that allow us to satisfy the needs of everyone, not just ourselves.