Poor Bike Handling Skills Are Symptomatic Of A Much Larger Problem

Background Reading

Decrying the fact that riders on Chicago streets are woefully inept bike handlers is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only do we generally not know how to handle bikes to get up to speed from a full stop, but ‘we make shit up as we go‘ when it comes to the most important aspect of bike skills ,’riding so as not to get hit by a car‘.

We are an army of bicyclists who are untrained, arrogant in our ignorance and protective of our reputation. We are in essence everything that the U.S. Army isn’t. But we muddle along trying to justify the outrageous expense of hundreds of miles of bike lanes in a city that cannot meet it pension obligations, keep it schools funded and general prevent people using the goddam lanes from being shot in the head while doing so.

Somewhere along the way we decided that the order of business in running a city was:

  • More bike lanes than NYC
  • Nicer elevated parks than NYC
  • More basketball arenas than are necessary
  • Bigger lakefront boondoggles than are necessary
  • Oh and then schools that work, crime that is negligible and pensions that are paid


A bicyclist is in critical condition after she was stuck by a vehicle Sunday night in Lincolnwood. | Network Video Productions

A bicyclist is in critical condition after she was stuck by a vehicle Sunday night in Lincolnwood. | Network Video Productions


It is indeed true that many cyclists in Chicago do not know how to start up bike from a ‘dead stop‘. Asking for help with this problem for a single person is to overlook the reality that nobody who gets and rides a bike has any expectation of being trained or educated unless they are rather fortunate and come across a class.

We have decided as a city that only ATA can conduct classes. And furthermore that knowing the Rules of the Road is for suckers. Our organized efforts revolve around trying to demand that we not be obligated to obey stop signs. Or better yet to treat them as Yield signs instead.

But Yield signs on the trails where they cross roadways do not always seem to work. It also seems to be the case that cyclists are as friendly with the idea of operating a vehicle while intoxicated as are many motorists. And these cyclists often end up doing ‘face-plants on roadways‘.

It seems too that stop lights are a rather ineffectual bit of traffic furniture for cyclists. They routinely run them and end up paying the price there as well. Do we need to worry about a single rider who seemingly cannot get up to speed following a lawful stop? I think that problem pales in comparison to the ones which truly need resolution.

It appears that our collective commitment to Vision Zero is more a gimmick than much else.