- Bicyclist Attacks and Bloodies CTA Bus Driver in Lincoln Park, Witness Says (OnLine)
- ‘Tour de Fat’ Bike Parade Brought Mix of Fury, Support from Car Drivers (OnLine)
- Watch This Driver Get Out of His Car to Punch a Cyclist in Lincoln Square “That sort of bizarre anger on a beautiful Friday morning is sort of surreal,” one bicyclist said. (OnLine)
- Businesses, Bikers Split on Protected Bike Lane Near Bobby Cann Memorial The new curb-protected lanes will separate vehicles and bicycles with three-foot-wide concrete medians. (OnLine)
- How Well Do You Know Chicago’s Bike Laws? Are those sidewalks really for biking? (OnLine)
- Naked Bike Riders To Roll Through West Loop, City This Weekend The World Naked Bike riders shouldn’t be hard to spot. (OnLine)
- Bloomingdale Trail Etiquette, or the Do’s and Don’ts of Using the 606 (OnLine)
What spotlights the difference between the motoring and the bicycle club is not the nose rings, tattoos, over dependence on skinny jeans and naked cavorting, but rather the mutually decided upon indifference of these two groups towards one another.
Cyclists are far more coordinated in their communications as a group for several reasons. They are vastly smaller and evidently feel more threatened. So it is not surprising that a week ago when the video surfaced about a driver physically attacking a cyclist the Chicago ‘Whine and Jeez Club’ Cycling Forum lit up like a Roman candle.
Everyone was critical of the video and the physical assault but nobody asked what had led up to the violence. What caused that driver to ‘lose it‘?
That question was present when a week later a story surfaces about a CTA Rider who witnessed a cyclist wielding a weapon (probably a U-Lock) physically assaulted a female Mass Transit driver and then fled the scene.
And in keeping with the indifference theme the Chicago forum on cycling simply ignored the story altogether.
We Are Approaching A Crossroads
There is no amount of naked bike riding, Critical Mass Riding or even Slow Rolling that is going to ‘fix the problem‘. This is something that all sides are going to allow to boil over until a pedestrian pushing a stroller is run down and hit on the Chicago Lakefront Trail and dies. Then the equivalent of the Bobby Cann story is going to be re-enacted (only this time for a white female with her child) and suddenly people who have been ignorant of the seething undercurrents of this tension will be made aware of it.
Now the principle leadership on the Urban Cycling Community side is going to function pretty much like the RNC chair and say virtually nothing because what the heck can be said when you let a situation get to the point that emotions are boiling over and you sat on your hands?
And unfortunately this is all on the cycling side of the ledger. In general motorists are oblivious to any concerns by cyclists who ride to work on a daily basis. It is not that they are indifferent, it is a bit like any other social situation where you are ignorant until someone ‘humanizes‘ the opposition.
But frankly cyclists are beyond really wanting to be ‘humanized‘. In large part they have staked out a claim to a cultural stance that is beyond compromise. They have ‘been at war‘ with automobiles for a very long time. It is just that cars are largely unaware of the problem.
Think micro-aggressions or better yet visualize the movie ‘The Help‘ and you have a better understanding of the problem that cyclists have with the ‘majority‘. We can of course let our resentments continue to seethe but it will be to no avail.
It is when a cyclist kills a white pedestrian in the crosswalks of our city or perhaps on the Chicago Lakefront Trail that things will get ‘resolved‘. There will be a cry for licensing and registration and there will be no way to stem that tide. If you are free to assault a bus driver and can escape unidentified because the law does not require you to be identifiable then there will be a move to correct that oversight.
Meanwhile the folks who keep coming with their hands out will suddenly be trying to gain some traction with their constituents by organizing rallies to fight the oppressive motoring public that wants to take away their civil rights!
Folks We Are Family
This is not an Us versus Them thing. The ‘race war‘ that every bigot wants to see erupt is not so much about race as it would be about ‘status‘. Cars versus bicycles versus pedestrians is all about supremacy.
Cyclists have mistakenly assumed that they were the most vulnerable users. Wrong! The group in society that needs the greater protections is running around on shoe leather. If you want to keep them safer then when you choose to quarantine the inner cities of Europe and America from automobiles, please remember to include bicycles too!
If any single group should be paranoid about their safety it is pedestrians, not cyclists! So rather than keeping up this charade of a conflict so that our bicycling advocate groups can raise yet more money, let’s agree to admit that the very notion of bicyclists and mass transit users and pedestrians being in a coalition is dishonest.
Cyclist could care less about pedestrians. Sad, but in practice true! We use the pedestrian crosswalks for our own purposes all the time. In fact if motorists were as abusive of the bike lanes as we are of the crosswalk I shudder to think of the consequences.
So maybe the first thing that City Hall should do is confront the real conflict, the War On Pedestrians and quarantine the motorists and cyclists from the outer regions of the Downtown Area. Turn everyone into pedestrians or mass transit users or Divvy riders (no private bikes allowed).
Let these two groups bicyclists and motorists understand that their behavior is both shameful and dangerous. Remove all the expensive traffic controls because in the inner areas of the city people will be allowed to ‘jay-walk‘ to their hearts content. And because there will be a real need for Divvy it will get financially healthier.
Via transponders on Divvy bikes we will have a means of identifying the rogue elements and ‘clip their wings‘.
But In The Meantime We Have To Stop The Hatfields and McCoys Charade. This has gone on long enough.