The Chainlink

I love that everyone is out riding their bikes nowadays.  Ever since Hurricane Katrina ripped this country a new one, “transportation biking” has blown up.  It’s nice, really.  Used to be that if I saw someone on a bike in the city, I probably knew who it was.  Now, forget it.  That’s good stuff, man.  Also, I will say that on the average, bikers have gotten much prettier over the last five years.  That’s a complement to the ladies, thanks for riding. 


BUT, I gotta say that I am getting appalled and angry by some of you guys and girlz.  As a veteran Shitcago bicycle messenger, I witnessed how Chicago jaywalking grew like a Texas forest fire in the 80’s.  The bike messengers of the late 80’s and 90’s brought cuttin’ lights to an artform.  Then car drivers thought that they could get in on the action too.  During the 90’s cars started running lights and stopping for nothing.  Plus they were gettin’ angry about it.  Chicago streets are just traffic soup and everyone thinks they are the ladle.

So what am I sayin’?  People follow examples.  Plain and simple.  Messengers make cutting traffic look good, simple, maybe almost safe.  So you try it a couple times.  Wow, what a rush, right?  Now you are getting bolder.  You try bigger intersections at busier times of day.  You start to get the feeling like you are the kid in The Matrix bending spoons with your mind.  HHHOOONNNKKK!!!!  Wake up!  Truck’s coming and you are in my line.  Why?  The point here is that Messengers do it cause we need to save time.  Messengers spend years learning the rhythm of the street lights, the direction of the traffic, and the unpredictable pedestrians, etc.  Getting paid on commission means nobody is paying you to waste time.  But hey, what am I really sayin’ here?  Some people just ain’t cut out to serve up the cuts and don’t know how to say “enough”.

Hell, I have probably run more red lights than anyone.  I am no one to talk.  But this is my area of expertise.  Sure this city is covered by more asphalt than anywhere.  Sure we have tons of roads, but they all go nowhere.  We have intersections every 200 feet that cause opposition to movement every 10 seconds or less.  I get it.  Cycling is momentum.  Everyone wants to keep rolling.  But there is a huge difference in coming up on a stop sign where there are no cars, after careful calculations, you proceed thru the stop sign and a pro messenger operating on six lanes of traffic at 4:45pm on a Friday at the end of the month.  So here it is; I am sick of almost getting hit by other bikers doing stupid sh!t for no other reason than, what? I don’t get it.  Back off.

Anyways, you could all make my life better, maybe yours too, if you all would start working these tidbits into normal life.

1.Pretend you are invisible.  This means you should never make anyone else hit their brakes.  Trucks can’t see you and can’t stop even if they did.  Cabs don’t care anyway.  Bikers don’t have insurance.  Kids are innocent.

2.Right of way.  Yield to those less than you.  Always go behind the pedestrians.  Always give kids extra room. 

3.Share the road, a tube, a smile.

4.Why are you cutting?  Do you have 10 packages in your bag with 10 people waiting for you and an angry angry dispatcher on your radio?  Didn’t think so. 

5.If you got hit by another bike, and the accident was your fault, whose insurance would pay?  So quit trying to cut me off while I’m riding or walking with my kid.  Geez. 


Street cred don’t come easy and it ain’t cheap.  Spend it wisely.  Peace.

 

 

UPDATE BELOW

 

Thank you to the posters whom understand what I was trying to express originally.  

 

Here is the only problem worth addressing in this thread: I have noticed a rapid rise in bikers running red lights, specifically this year.

 

So if you’re going to respond further to this thread please explain to me why people who are not messengers cut thru red lights.  Not why other people run red lights.  Just you, yourself, specifically, why do you run red lights?

 

Seeing as you do run red lights, what do you think the right thing to do is if you cause an accident?  Or how about just making another biker crash?  Is there any code of ethics you follow when you see another biker in the intersection who you just screwed?


 

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Amen ! I totally agree ! As cycling has increased in Chicago so has bad behavior. I sick of almost taking a cyclist out when they pass on the right during a turn ! Wtf ? I sometimes I miss days of riding when you knew 95% off the people you saw on a bike and on your left was a common phrase .
Go ahead and pretend you are invisible. Just put a blinkie light on while you're at it fer chrissakes.
Yeah, I messengered for six years, mostly in the Nineties, and this seems a bit high-handed. Whether you're a messenger or not, there's no reason to ride like a jerk.

I'm gonna start carrying a couple of packages with me so I can have the "entitled right-of-way in any situation pass."

Thanks for the tip...

 

No, messengers don't make running lights look good - that's just how some of them see themselves.

 

I appreciate the stress of the job, but cab drivers use the exact same rationalization logic.  And truck drivers.  And pizza delivery guys.  And cops late from their lunch break.  And (fill in the blank).


"Messengers make cutting traffic look good, simple, maybe almost safe. "

You say all that needs to be said in the begining of paragraph 3

"So what am I sayin’?  People follow examples.  Plain and simple. "

I have almost been hit while I was walking by many messengers, and once was in fact slammed into while in a crosswalk by one -- some messengers may have great bike-handling skills, but I've also seen them fly down a crowded sidewalk and scare the shit out of pedestrians, which, of course, just leads antagonism towards ANY cyclists.  So you have an angry dispatcher, does that give one the right to ride like an idiot and infuriate those around you?  I am extremely supportive of cyclists and cycling, but I have seen messengers act like they own the road, and, all too often, the sidewalks.  And as far as sharing a smile?  Come on, man, when have you ever seen a messenger with a smile for anyone?  Most of them look like they have a chip on their shoulder. 

Carter nails it here. Paying anyone by the mile or the package is incompatible with road safety. We really need to compensate truck drivers, taxi drivers and bicycle messengers by the hour or by salary. I'm sure all three groups will hate this suggestion as it will potentially lower their income. But when they earn large by driving fast, everyone else pays for it - potentially with their lives.

Carter O'Brien said:

No, messengers don't make running lights look good - that's just how some of them see themselves.

 

I appreciate the stress of the job, but cab drivers use the exact same rationalization logic.  And truck drivers.  And pizza delivery guys.  And cops late from their lunch break.  And (fill in the blank).


"Messengers make cutting traffic look good, simple, maybe almost safe. "

"Pretend you are invisible." That's my main biking rule!

I am glad the OP shared this.  I like many of the points made.  Others are illuminating.

 

As has been said, this is all about incentives.  The messengers are being encouraged to ride in a risky fashion by the compensation system of their industry.  That system is wrong if it encourages people to risk their lives to make a living.

 

Since I am commuting to work, I have no motivation to run red lights, so I don't.  It costs nothing for me to wait.  OTOH, I don't like it when a bunch of folks run through a red light through traffic as I wait for the light - those drivers around me are going to take out their anger on the next biker they see, and that will be me.

This reminds me of my motorcycling rule:  "Pretend everyone is out to kill you!" ;)

Betsy M said:
"Pretend you are invisible." That's my main biking rule!

Folks, I think some are missing the point.

 

1. Pretend you are invisible - aka Assume NO ONE sees you. Having this be a part of your mantra when you ride will avoid most incidents.

2. Right of way - Part of this is physics (vehicle vs bike, vehicle wins every time) and part of this is courtesy

3. Share the love. We ride our bikes because we love it, not to show off. Save that shit for the bars/track whatever.

4. Cutting in line anywhere is a dick move. Again, insert courtesy first here.

5. Keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel looking around at all times. Again, this will avoid most incidents. Pretending to ignore others while riding is selfish and dangerous.

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