It Should Not Have To Be Like This…

Background Reading


Unsafe bicycling ‘pied piper’ needs a lesson

My wife and I were driving north down Dryden Street on our weekly shopping trip. We came to a stop at the Olive Street stop sign. A squadron of bicyclists came pedaling down Olive. From experience, I did not begin to cross Olive, but hesitated.

Sure enough, the squadron leader, without a glance left or right pedaled through the stop sign and turned left onto Dryden.

The tragedy here is the leader was a dad followed by his gaggle of kids and wife — all rolling along in his wake without a thought.

He was teaching his kids that stop signs are just so much street furniture. This pied piper implanted a disregard for road rules that may, some day, kill one or two of them.

Hopefully, someday a police officer will curb this lethal pied piper, and his family can watch him get a ticket. Now there’s a lesson his kids will never forget.

Gerry Souter

Arlington Heights

Photo by Kevin Montgomery

Photo by Kevin Montgomery


Here are a few of the responses to this letter to the editor:

Responses from Readers

Responses from Readers

One of the responses seems to be citing the Idaho Stop Law out of context. To my knowledge Illinois has no such equivalent. And as the writer admits the problem here is that the behavior of the cyclist (and his family) might not have been the right thing. posted this photo, with an explanation that is was a “bootleg” addition to the stop sign that authorities planned to remove. posted this photo, with an explanation that is was a “bootleg” addition to the stop sign that authorities planned to remove.

Perhaps the entire debate over the Rules of the Road should be carefully parsed. There are two distinct situations which are problematic. The first is how to deal with an intersection controlled by a traffic signal. The second is how to deal with an intersection controlled by a traffic sign.

It turns out that the debate going on in SF along the Wiggle is about traffic signs. I experienced just today a very disappointing bit of behavior along the route we chose today.

A Real-Life Example

We were riding to the Oakbrook REI. Just before the point where the street we were riding intersections the Illinois Prairie Path there is a golf course. The northwest corner of the course is an intersection controlled by a stop sign.

This particular town is very hilly and the stop sign is at the bottom of a hill. We approached the intersection and waited while a car entered the intersection and crossed through it.

Suddenly a woman in her late 30s went around the car waiting patiently behind both of us and roared through the intersection pedaling from an out-of-saddle position. She gave no signal or made no sound as she entered the intersection and simply continued to stand while pedaling all the way to the entrance to the gold course!

Because this particular intersection is the junction of three separate streets it means that  five lines of cars can potentially be waiting. There would have been simply no time for her to have scanned all of the corners while moving that fast. And because she had committed herself while coming down the hill behind us she was not really prepared to stop.

The Urban Bicycle Movement Is Moving the Goal Posts Constantly

JSC Fallover Distance_0

JSC Fallover Distance_0

After having lobbied for the 3-Feet Law cyclists have suddenly decided that perhaps 3 feet are not enough. And as usual their world is centered around their navels.



As our numbers climb it is going to be the case that pedestrians will need to factor into our calculations as to who needs a ‘buffer zone‘ besides just us! My worry is that when cyclists focus so heavily on their own needs they forget that pedestrians even exist. Or perhaps do the same kind of sloppy calculus that many drivers do when considering taking actions that might harm a cyclist. We seem to be doing this with respect to pedestrians.

We have long since discovered that our calculus which determined that Cars Kill, Bicycles Don’t was in error. And now we are faced with ‘attempting to move the goal posts‘ in aid of our personal convenience and are finding that pedestrians are dying.

But we are far more focused on having the world focus on drivers and not on us. It is like having the KKK decide that their activities are not nearly so worthy of scrutiny as some other hate group. And that indifference to the Moral Imperative in the Vision Zero Initiative is going to embarrass us all one day.

Safety is not a numbers game. If you having a crime spree in Chicago and the bulk of the gun violence is in poorer neighborhoods you might feel justified in complaining to the Chicago Cop (who stopped you in Wicker Park carrying an unregistered weapon) that they should be spending their energies going after gangs in poorer neighborhoods where the reported crimes are higher.

But that is precisely the problem. Police do not get to ignore the obvious law breaking right in front of them where it should not be occurring. There are no gang wars going on, just you walking around with a loaded gun and firing it off because you can.

Likewise those same cyclists who say do not stop us but rather go after the larger number of drivers of cars, are always complaining when they believe that a cop is ignoring the return of their stolen bicycle because there are far more cars (each of far greater value than your bike) that need to be returned as well.

You simply cannot as a cyclist have everything be suited just for your convenience. And goodness knows that I too have seen families riding through intersections on red lights with the mom and day leading the kids. What on earth does that parent believe to be the essence of ‘good parenting‘?

But more to the point, how do bicycle advocacy groups not understand the problem they are creating by encouraging cyclists to use deflection as a tool rather than honesty?