- Cyclists, Drivers Sound Off About Their Pet Peeves Sharing Chicago’s Roads – West Loop – DNAinfo.com Chicago (PDF)
- It Takes More Than A Uniform… (BeezodogsPlace)
As both a bicyclist and a car driver I get a chance to see this issue from both sides. And from where I stand things are not getting better, they are getting worse.
In the factual story above I relate a situation which startled me. A young white woman on a bicycle with panniers is riding eastbound on Jackson Blvd. I am parked (motor off) on the southbound side of the street just before the intersection with Des Plaines Avenue.
A bus is waiting at the intersection for the light to turn green before crossing to pick up passengers waiting at a stop on Jackson. The rear of the bus is very close to my parked car. The light is red and suddenly the young woman approaches and begin squeezing between the rear of the bus and my parked vehicle.
The space is tight enough that her panniers are ‘contacting‘ my car and her body is up against the bus. What was startling is that suddenly her head appears in my driver’s side window as she is trying to contort past my driver’s side mirror. Her face is less than six inches from mine as she squeezes through. Her body is turned sideways because she cannot pass otherwise.
She finally squeezes through and I can feel the panniers release from my front wheel well. The car shakes a bit. She rides through the pedestrian crosswalk in front of the bus and starts scanning Des Plaines northward.
It is at this moment I realize that she is about to try and cross the intersection against the light! The intersection has a sign beside the light saying no turn on red. But both cars and bikes ignore this for whatever reason.
As soon as she spots a break in the traffic she crosses against the light and heads up the street.
My Thoughts Were Swirling!
Riding so that you have to squeeze between a parked car and a CTA bus strikes me as stupid. But I made that mistake once before myself. It is the kind of thing that happens when you are not thinking about the consequences of your actions. Had that bus backed up just a few inches she would have been crushed against my car.
My car body would no doubt have had her imprint in it from the collision. I would have been forced to file an accident report and get an estimate from my insurance company. And no doubt had she been severely injured or worse I would have had to stay and answer questions from the police, even though I was an unwilling participant in this fracas.
But in Chicago things like this happen all the time. I have literally between startled beyond belief by bikes cutting through stalled traffic and riding like maniacs to get around it! And of course the cars that speed up to catch a light or make a right turn without allowing the pedestrians in the crosswalk to reach the other side are as bad as the countless cyclists who slice through pedestrians in the crosswalk to make a light.
At times like this I always wonder why cyclists are always grousing about cars passing closer than 3-Feet but seem oblivious to how frightened pedestrians are when they are not given that same distance by bicyclists who are often moving along at 20 mph.
All of the notable deaths of pedestrians caused by bicyclists occur because bicyclists are plowing right through a crosswalk full of people on foot!
The Problem Is Much Bigger Than Cars vs. Cyclists
Chicago like so many places that seem hellbent on becoming ‘bike friendly‘ is facing a much bigger problem than skirmishes between cars and bike riders. There are the pedestrians who are beginning to realize that besides having to dodge cars they are now confronted with bicyclists trying to mow them down in the crosswalk and on the sidewalk.
And what is really sad is that the journalists who write about the latter are seemingly OK with sidewalk riding, even in places like Michigan Avenue.
There is a desensitization of the populace to the countless micro-aggressions that take place every time we ignore the safety of the other guy. Eventually it gets to the point that people step over the line.
In the case of the bicyclist banging on the car of the off-duty policeman the cyclists was clearly wrong.
If for instance a pedestrian had decided that the very next time a cyclist split the crosswalk trying to make a light that he would bang on the handlebars or the fenders or the rear rack of that cyclist with his cane or umbrella that too would be crossing the line.
But Chicago is a bit of a zoo. We cross the line every goddam day and nobody seems to think it insane anymore. Just how much of this insanity needs to continue before we decide that a weekend of 50+ shootings on our streets is probably not safe.
The next time you or your buddies on the way to work decide to slap someones car think about the video above. You might either be encountering an off-duty police officer or even someone willing to kick your butt on film. Your choice.
Bicyclists Need To Stop Being Whiners And Instead Act As Role Models
I’m not going to spare bicyclists any sympathy for being assholes. They clearly are in that category and have long since begun to wear on the patience of everyone on the streets. We have crossed over from the West Town Bikes guys dictum that Cars Kill, Bicycles Don’t to we are all killers. And that fact is something that I find dangerous.
We have all decided that striking out with physical force is the best way to get someone’s attention. And soon that will escalate into firing rounds into driver’s side windows to make our point. This is savagery and there is no other way to describe a society where so much violence is being wrought over really petty stuff.
Note the cyclists was not hit. He could have decided to get off his bike and stand on the curb and let the vehicle pass. But he chose to strike out. I suppose when the young lady that was damaging my car (just so that she could cross the intersection on a red light) I could have rolled down the window and punched her in the face. Or at the very least given her an ‘I coulda had a V-8‘ forehead rap. But why bother. Her call to the police would probably have indicated that I was sexually molesting her, not just rapping her forehead.
We all need to calm down a bit. We are behaving like a couple on the brink of divorce and pieces of furniture are already flying through the air instead of conversations.
There are no guiltless victims in this scenario of chaos on our streets. Everyone is in too much of a hurry to get to jobs we don’t like and to homes where the stress levels are high enough that we are killing our children for wetting their pants. This is insanity and needs to be addressed.