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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While the "Do as I say, not as I do" message is mixed here, I agree that most new bike riders learn by watching others and learn a lot of bad habits in the process. I see people will little skill or stamina try to go through red lights in traffic and then, while waiting on my bike for the light to change, I get the dirty looks.

When people make an example of bike riders with a story about a bike messenger I retort with a story about an incident with a cab driver and that usually shuts them up.

 

Yup.  I need to strap 10 boxes to my bike.  Russian nesting boxes anyone?

M.A.R.K. said:

Is this post for real? This is how I read this..

 

1.Pretend you are invisible.  This means you should never make anyone else hit their brakes. Unless you're a messenger

 

2.Right of way.  Yield to those less than you.  Always go behind the pedestrians. Unless you're a messenger

3.Share the road, a tube, a smile. Unless you're a messenger

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. 

No, but why should I care if you have 10 packages? Nobody told you you had to have that kind of work.

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.

 

If I got hit by another bike, then it wouldn't really be MY fault would it?

 

Remember that everyone you see biking carelessly is one less person driving carelessly.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

Peenworm Grubologist said:
Remember that everyone you see biking carelessly is one less person driving carelessly.

I'd like to pay a cab driver a salary instead of by the mile. Maybe then I could respect them more. I hate the way they drive and will not use a cab unless I have no other choice and then I'll search for one.

 

At the same tiem bus drivers earn a salary and they are bad drivers most of the time in my opinion. So maybe their will always be problem to contend with in these high stress and high responsibility jobs.

 

The comon denominator is the ability to be at peace with life and its stressors. I think that if we were at peace with life and what it gives us then we wouldn't have to worry. Sounds simple but maybe life isn't as complex as we make it.

Tony Adams said:

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. "

The decision to cut is not a "why" question - it should be an "is it safe" question.  Even if you think you have a great reason -- 10 packages, 10 angry customers, or 10 starving kittens, you're not going to get where you're going if you get flattened.

 

Love the point about yielding to pedestrians and crossing behind them - you just look like a jerk if you don't.

I appreciate the original post, too. That doesn't mean he is right about everything, just that he is sharing his perspective with the rest of us. His approach works for him. We all see things from a slightly different frame of reference and that can be a good thing. Do I run red lights? Nope. Do I come to a complete stop for every stop sign? Nope. Do I stop for stop signs when there is other traffic present? You betcha! I think of it as an opportunity to do randomized interval workouts and to work on my track stands (no, I do not ride a track bike). I am still working at the concept of not passing cars on the right in order to get to the front of the line at a red light; the temptation is just too much most of the time. Do I expect other riders to conform to my personal code? Not any more. Mankind (womankind, too, for those who feel strongly) possesses an infinite capacity to rationalize any course of action (or style of bike riding) that they want to pursue. I can explain in painstaking detail exactly why it was ok for me to run that stop sign. The judge won't even bother listening.

This applies to pretty much everything:

Rule #1: Don't be a douche.

It's just that simple.

Got no brakes. Can't stop, don't want to.
The bad-ass action movie hero can't skid? Feh.

Mike Zumwalt said:
Got no brakes. Can't stop, don't want to.
No question there is an inherent double standard in the original post.  No question its a do as I say not as I do statement.  Yet, as noted by others, there is great truth in what he says. I think the rub is we should not ride with hubris, stupidity or inattention.  He is well aware of the risk he takes when he rides like a stuntman. He can handle it and most of us cannot. The reality is he is much safer that most of the rest of us. I am a commuter. I ride a lot. I am an experienced handler. That being said, I stop at lights and don't try any of the maneuvers performed by the orgiinal poster. Why? 1) I'm too establishment and too chicken. 2) I am a good handler  but not that good. 3) when you have kids you become even more  risk adverse.  Know what you can and cannot do on a bike.  The rules listed above are very good ones for most riders whether you are a commuter, a messenger or simply out to enjoy the fresh air.  Now back to the original poster- I know you are a great rider, however, its still not worth the risk to cut traffic as much as you do.  The companies that employ you are notorious about defending their workers' compensation claims.  Your recovery is based in part on how bad you are hurt and how much you make.  The jobs don't pay all that well. Is is really worth Evil Knevil injuries when you don't make Evil Knevil money?  Be careful out there. I know the risk of injury in your view is slim.  It usually is.  However, if you do go down you will not be  happy with the outcome. I'm just sayin'...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fart

Carter O'Brien said:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

Peenworm Grubologist said:
Remember that everyone you see biking carelessly is one less person driving carelessly.

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