The Chainlink

Consider this a rant.  I'll admit it is Saturday and in the 50's.  I took a ride to the north branch trail to check it out and get out of the streets.  There were a fair amount of people sharing the path, lots of walkers, a fair amount of joggers and a few cyclists, most everyone really staying apart, 6 to 10 feet.  Except for a few, and they were cyclists, Lance Armstrong types.  When you are cycling along the path, and come up behind a group of pedestrians, and the other side is blocked with pedestrians as well, the proper thing to do is brake, wait until the other side is clear, and pass with as much distance as possible.  These guys, and they were guys, 25 to 35 in age, couldn't for the life of them, hit the brakes.  They would squeeze between the groups of pedestrians, sometimes with less than a foot on either side.  I couldn't believe it.  After seeing this behavior at least 20 times I decided to get off the path and back onto the street. 

I took Bryn Maur to Western and Western to Lincoln Square.  Yes the cemetery was locked and closed, you couldn't get through there.  The cars on Western gave me more clearance than the cyclists on the north branch trail did.  I'd rather take my chances in the street.  At least I only have to deal with speeding and distracted drivers, not entitled, self-centered lance armstrongs on the trail, who could care less about anybody else.

I wouldn't be surprised if Mayor Lightfoot closed that one as well.

Close rant.

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Couldn’t agree with you more on this. I’ve stopped commuting to work because the trails are so crowded. The Lance Armstrong wannabe’s shouldn’t be on hauling ass on the trails anyway. 

To be fair to all, there is probably more than one point of view or sensibility in play here.  One challenge with mixed use trails is that there isn't a standard, much less people actually agreeing to that standard, as to what the appropriate or reasonable speed should be.  If someone is sympathetic to the views of the Lance-type rider, the perceived problem with people riding too quickly is merely others moving too slowly.

Now as a practical matter, the faster rider can always slow down, and it's not always possible for a slower mover to become faster.  An objection to that idea is it sets aside the notion of any duty for slower travelers to try to stay out of the way, and in particular to not be so slow if they are two abreast. 

While we could use that "slowest common denominator" to borrow that phrase from a similar concept (lowest common denominator) as the standard, and force everyone to yield to the slowest, not everyone is happy with that idea per above.  In the extreme, if somebody just wants to walk, they can do that in their house, yard or neighborhood and not gum up the works of a valuable resource such as the trail.  The same can't be said for someone else who needs 18mph or more to get their heart rate up enough to count as exercise.

This should never excuse recklessness or endangering others, but if we ever want society to more broadly accept bikes as a practical alternative to cars for commuting and other transportation, then we have to accept that they are substantially faster than just walking or jogging.     

Amen, Sabrina.  Good post. 

I've been waiting for the "Lance Armstrong/Lake front Lance/ Spandex clad" complaints to start. I prefer to ride my rode bike for my exercise and have ridden the channel trail and the north branch trail since this mess started.  I gave up on them over a week ago because of congestion - not only bikers (casual/family as well as the cursed "Lance Armstrong types ) but also because of joggers and walking groups and general assholes.  I also, when not pretending to be an aging "lance" (69 yrs young) ride with my wife at a slower speed.  Believe me there are enough ass wipe "regular city cyclists to go around.  I've given up on the trails and just ride streets even with my wife.  Traffic is light and non existent in some neighborhoods - better for 10 m social cycling distancing. Oh, and if anyone cares I do wear a mask. Adapt, people.  this ain't getting better in the near future.

Are you serious?  If someone want to walk they should stay off the trail?  How about if someone wants to ride a bike at 18 mph they can hit the streets, and not a crowded trail.

When riding a  bike 6 feet is not enough.  The higher  the  speed the greater the interval  should  be. On  any trail there is no good  way to have  sufficient distance to the side  so we have to employ the  least offensive aspect of the Confederate  National Anthem and "look away" as  we pass people. That is the best that we can do. 

Yesterday I had a good chance to observe on the Green  Bay trail and was encouraged with what I saw. I had a  flat and  sat on the stairs  leading to a  train  station  while fighting  to get a thin tire on a profiled rim. It  was  afternoon and lots of parents and kids were out and all were cognizant of the need  for  distance.  One family wanted to  get to the station  and I walked away from my wheel while the ascended the stairs. 

Agree completely. I've stayed off the North Branch Trail since our awesome 70 degree day for this reason. It is a multi-user path and there are people walking; some of them are old and walk more slowly. If there was traffic coming from the opposite direction, I would slow down to as little as 5 mph behind the walkers until it was clear to pass. Sadly, not everyone has the same good sense and it was always men who passed agressively between groups, where it was then impossible to maintain 6 feet between people as the path isn't 18+ feet wide. One guy - not lycra-clad, just aggressive - even squeezed between me and oncoming bicyclists where the path is a normal sidewalk and not that wide - no way were we even 3 feet apart.

I get that people are riding for exercise - so am I - but if you have to slow down for a bit because you can't leave 6 feet between you and others when you pass, have the courtesy to do so.

The Sabrina post is spot-on and shouldn't be controversial at all to note that there are many varied user needs and views to incorporate in a discussion on the issue(s) and:

Just like road rules, slower traffic should stay to the right (in a comfortable, safe position).

I too agree with Sabrina on this, but bottom line is that we all need to practice extra courtesy in these times, and there's never justification for being a jerk, biking or walking.

The other important consideration is that of perception. If you, as a cyclist, are practicing appropriate distancing, from your perspective it may appear that a cyclist some distance ahead of you (lycra clad or otherwise) is weaving within inches of pedestrians that they're passing, when in reality the distance between them may be greater than it appears. If you are truly seeing them pass inches apart, you may be too close to them yourself. And if you see the same cyclist doing it over and over, you are probably going close to the same speed as the targets of the rant.

Pedestrians walking together (whom I assume are from the same isolated household and should not be in groups large enough to block an entire side of the trail) also have an responsibility to stay more tightly together to allow other users (including runners and rollerbladers) to safely pass.

I'm on team Sabrina,,,and not just cause I'm a middle aged "lance rider" in lycra,,,we do not all have the same mind set on what is appropriate on a multi use trail. i personally love the NBT and find it , for the most part quite pleasant, i am polite when passing all kinds of users and i can tell that some people are surprised with my pleasantries. let's just do our part in trying to stay safe and not be so determined to police every jerk's wrong doings out there. enjoy the ride! on your left!

Indignantly complaining about other people never goes out of style.

Also, good comment by Sabrina.

The entire point of the post was not to complain about the difference in speed, with the most obvious being a fast cyclist vs a pedestrian.  It was about maintaining a safe passing distance, the goal being 6 feet or more.  Sabrina's post addresses the obvious difference in speed, but that's not what I was talking about.  When the path is crowded, with pedestrians on both sides, and there is no where for a cyclist to pass safely without encroaching on this 6 foot distance, then it's obvious for the cyclist to slow down and wait until it is clear to pass, not to squeeze by with only a foot or a few inches of clearance.  Bad behavior needs to be called out.  It makes all of us look bad.



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