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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Well some of you get it.  Others not so much.  

 

Here it is real simple:  Too many people are riding like messengers that have no business riding in such a dangerous manner.   

 

Here are some examples to clear up the confusion.  

 

 1.I am going south on Wells, I have the green light at Ontario.  Lady on a rental bike going west on Ontario cuts her red and does the two step squirrel dance right in front of me.  I am the one with the right of way and also the one who has to come to a full stop.

2.While heading south on Wabash with a green light at Chicago where not one, but two people with double strollers push them ahead out into the street against the light and right in front of me.  Not good (granted they are not bikers, but shocking none the less). Full stop at a green light.

3.Going North on Milwaukee at Elston I have the green light.  Lovely little lady with her oversized sunglasses and ballet shoes does a southbound jump out into the intersection right in front of me and then she can’t decide which direction she wants to go to get herself out of trouble.  Luckily, it did not end with UP.  Hopefully she made it to art class on time.  My reflexes hit max output.

4.I was heading west on Huron came up to Dearborn slowed up for the red which was about to change in 4-3-2-1.  Twinkie on his fixie with his headphones in passed me on the right, rolled out into the intersection, brought three lanes of fast traffic to a screeching halt.  Barely looking up, he saunters down the block at his poop in the pants fixed gear slacker pace.  And yes, we was NOT a messenger.  Shook my head. 

 

So please people, wise up and be careful.  

Your experience is that the world is full of morons, but you don't have to be a bicyclist to know that.  Just look around.

 

But your point is valid and your advice is sound.

 

Now if we could only figure out a way for the experts in any given topic to help other people understand... 

<BG>

Kinda unrelated question. How many bike messengers are there roughly out there in Chicago? I'd guestimate several dozen.

I know that in the 80s and 90s that the messenging business was it's boom phase. Seems like the internet pretty much ended that (especially now that you can send large files and electronically sign them), unless you're delivering food, which isn't downloadable yet;).

Apparently the fax machine also affected the messengers.  There is a book about Chicago messengers called Immortal Class. There is a discussion thread from July 2009 about it.

MagMileMarauder said:

Kinda unrelated question. How many bike messengers are there roughly out there in Chicago? I'd guestimate several dozen.

I know that in the 80s and 90s that the messenging business was it's boom phase. Seems like the internet pretty much ended that (especially now that you can send large files and electronically sign them), unless you're delivering food, which isn't downloadable yet;).

The OP seems to lay on the condescension in this thread.  I would give this more cred if it weren't for the class warfare between messengers (clearly superior) and other cyclists.

 

As another poster said, there are lots of morons everywhere; just complain about them, don't start claiming that you are far superior.

 

Determining if an action is moronic or not can at times be subjective (maybe anyone cutting lights/etc. is a moron, regardless of their skill).

John Forester: "Im a Competent Cyclist.  The rest of you are incompetent."

Scott "SubUrban Cyclist" Rowan: I'm a highly Experienced Cyclist.  The rest of you Massholes are doing it wrong."

duncle: "As a veteran Shitcago bicycle messenger...Some people just ain’t cut out to serve up the cuts and don’t know how to say “enough”...this is my area of expertise."

Hmmmm.  Birds of a feather?

 

I am a year round cyclist. I don't know about everyone else, but it seems that attitude gets in the way of how we all communicate out in the world and in the bike lane. Changes happen, work with the change. The message hints (not so slightly) that messengers are more important than other cyclists....we all want the same thing, safe, awesome riding so we can ride more and more...and get up and do it again.

 

1. I love looking at women all day every day, ladies tearing up the streets = awesome. They ain't just pretty things to look at, lady cyclists = tough. The target of cat calling all damn day every day. Just sayin'. Its tiring. I got more today than I could count on all my fingers and maybe some toes. It makes me want to throw up and if I do that I can't really ride my bike.

2. While bikes ARE made to go around obstacles (which is how I choose to take the challenge of brushing it off when a car cuts in front of me IN the BIKE LANE) the world has obviously changed as this messenger has come forth to share.

2. I've never had a bad incident with another cyclist...just cars. I see people cutting and going through red lights. What I also notice is when I am following biking/traffic rules that cars are aggressive and at times violent towards me when I am just trying to take life by the handle bars and do my thing. This pisses me off, since violence just breeds violence, I usually smile and wave with MAYBE just a hint of sarcasm.

3. I don't want to get flattened/threatened/killed doing something I am extremely passionate about. If cyclists don't follow the rules and everyone is the 'ladle' how do we move forward to create safe roads for all cyclists? Anyone else want to stop being threatened by angry drivers?

4. Its amazing that there are so many people who cycle year round, I think this should be fostered as we all create dynamic change on the roads for all cyclists and this ain't done by putting yourself before others. It's looking at your neighbor and creating that shit together. So when new cyclists see veterans cutting and running lights...they gonna want to do it too.

5. I respect all cyclists. I think we should take over the city (secret desire).

6. Thanks for listening to my voice.

Agree. I like to think that cyclists can continue to be more tolerant and accepting of each-other than motorists, even as our numbers grow.

Peenworm Grubologist said:
Remember that everyone you see biking carelessly is one less person driving carelessly.
As someone else has said elsewhere, the biggest problem most cyclists seem to have is other cyclists.

Thunder Snow said:

John Forester: "Im a Competent Cyclist.  The rest of you are incompetent."

Scott "SubUrban Cyclist" Rowan: I'm a highly Experienced Cyclist.  The rest of you Massholes are doing it wrong."

duncle: "As a veteran Shitcago bicycle messenger...Some people just ain’t cut out to serve up the cuts and don’t know how to say “enough”...this is my area of expertise."

Hmmmm.  Birds of a feather?

 

I think the next few years, as our bicycling infrastructure improves, and more and more cyclists begin to ride as an everyday occurence, shall be interesting. I can see, in the not too distant future, groups of a dozen or more 6-year-olds, pedaling for all they're worth, zooming along Milwaukee Avenue in protected bike lanes on their way to school at speeds of only 3 or 4 miles per hour. Ditto for the 70 year old gramps and grannies who will now feel safe in cycling to visit friends or relatives, realizing their failing vision and reflexes make cycling a much better choice than trying to safely operate an automobile. The frustrations we feel with others on "our" lakefront path may well spread to all the roads in the city. And that will be a good thing. The flip side of cycling becoming a pervasive and ordinary mode of travel will likely mean the end of riding 25 miles an hour down a bike lane, mostly alone, with nothing but clear pavement ahead. If you need to ride as fast as you can for a workout, either very early morning or late night rides or trips to a velodrome may be the solution, as more and slower riders join us in the regular dance of traffic. The notion of "I'm a professional rider, get outta my way" will beome just a quaint memory of a time when hardly anyone rode a bike just to get somewhere.

Bike messengers are part of the problem.  When you weave through traffic and blow through red lights, that's what the car driving public sees as a typical cyclist.  They don't see you as legitimate traffic. 

By the way, being a bike messenger is considered a dangerous occupation,which means that on average, a messenger is not skilled enough to avoid injury.  See below.

 

"Is the job of a bicycle messenger dangerous? How often are bicycle messengers injured? Are these injuries severe? Jack T. Dennerlein, Ph.D. (Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health) asked these questions by surveying 113 bicycles messengers in Boston, MA.

Let's learn about the life of a bicycle messenger in Boston. These daredevils on wheels work an average of 40.3 hours per week, 8.5 hours per day and make 28.5 deliveries per day. For each delivery, a messenger must ride his bike approximately one mile. With all of this bike riding in heavy downtown traffic, you might expect plenty of injuries. In fact, 90% of the bicycle messengers reported that they had been injured on the job. Of those injured, 55% said that their injury was serious enough to seek medical help and 27% of them had to visit the hospital. For a group of 100 messengers, an injury that caused one of them to lose work occurred every five days and one that forced a messenger to go the hospital occurred approximately every four weeks.

The messengers themselves think their job is dangerous. The graph on the left illustrates how risky the messengers rate their job.

You would think that such a dangerous job would force messengers to take steps to protect themselves. When interviewed, only 12% of the messengers, however, said that they always wore helmets on the job and only 12% said that they wore helmets most of the time. Although cuts, scrapes and bruises were the most common type of injury, concussions accounted for 5% of the injuries.

With 47 lost-workday injuries per 100 workers, bicycle messengers have the highest rate of injuries of any reported job. In comparison, workers in the meat-packing industry, who also have dangerous jobs, suffer only 15.6 lost workday injuries per 100 workers. To add to the problems of bicycle messengers, many are self-employed and only 32% of the surveyed messengers had medical insurance to cover their injuries."

 

 

Street cred, in the case of the OP seems to be a manifestation of a very active imagination.

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