The Chainlink

Last week I was riding on 51st street (on the South side) near Martin Luther King Drive and a SUV with 3 individuals started threatening me because I was using the full lane due to road conditions, they pulled ahead of me, got out of the vehicle and threatened to beat me. I flagged down a police SUV and told them what was happening, the vehicle with the people who threatened me were stuck in traffic, as the vehicle approached I pointed it out to the police (1st District, 51st and the Dan Ryan), the police looked at them and asked if I wanted an escort home! WTF???

I don't understand why they DID NOT pull these people over and question them!

Yesterday I was on a ride with the Chatham Devcorp touring the Chatham area, there were about 30-40 individuals in the ride. We had multiple people in cars the threatening to run us over!

After the ride was over I was heading home on 87th Street and a vehicle pulled up to me and a passenger told me that he would beat my ass if I were not a senior citizen ( just for riding my bike and following the rules of the road)!

Today (July 17,2016) at the Bike Box on 51st and Calumet, 2 customers stopped by for estimates on some repair work, these guys were over 12 years of age, they were riding on the sidewalk (which is illegal in Chicago), they each were issued citations ($25.00 fine). 

They were were riding on the sidewalk because the police will NOT enforce the laws that allow them to ride in the street safely!

I was speaking to another individual who stated that he will not not ride in the streets on the South Side of Chicago because he has been told by motorists that "we don't do that over here (the South Side). He has been threatened also!

The 5th Ward Alderman has stated publicly that "Black people do not ride bikes"(WTF!!!!??????)

How do we (on the South Side) deal with these issues? 

This reminds me of the "broken window" policing policy.

Any suggestions? Or is this an issue only that South Siders have to deal with?

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Any time you are able to post events on The Chainlink, you can count on the rides being promoted to the Chainlink community. We'd love to help get more people on bikes, riding on the South Side and raising awareness.

Just post where and when and I'll try to join in on a ride.  I'm 76 years old and only average about 10 mph for 20 miles or so I may be a bit too slow for the group.

The ride will not be fast paced, we want to be inclusive. The pace will at a speed of 5 miles per hour.


I realize that solution will be found in a multi pronged approach; group rides, approaching our elected officials and communicating with each form all parts of the city. I'm also looking at the possibility of filing a class action suit against the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department, not just for myself, but the entire cycling community in Chicago. I need to do some research to see if that is feasible and I will get back to everyone later after I get the needed information. There are also some other ideas that I have, actions that can done on a nationwide level.

I find this very disturbing.  I often ride between Hyde Park and Downtown.  While the Lakefront Path is scenic it does get boring after a while.  I tend to ride on Drexel and MLK.  Shortened rides can include 31st Street.  These paths while marked are poorly maintained, littered with broken glass and broken pavement.  Now I know why -- poor support from the Aldermen.  That the residents in the area are threatening however, is very disturbing. 

Well I am glad more cyclists are expressing outrage at these issues.  Come down to The Mayors Bike Advisory Council meetings and let the CDOT officials tell you to your face that they are putting more effort into the south and west sides than anywhere else. Does any one know what a protected bike lane is?  How many do we have on the south side?  West side? Seen any bollards this year?  (Bollards are the plastic tubes glued to the pavement to indicate the edge of the bike lane)

Our Aldermen are the key.  Mine in the 9th Ward has told me he doesn't see us.  We should go see them.  At their offices every time we do a ride. At city council meetings.  Whether the Alderman will come out to play or not, take a picture and post it on social media.

Alderman Beale is one of the alderman who should get tagged when we're getting the word out on Twitter with #bikeCHIsouth and #BlackPeopleRide posts.  I'm trying to get some momentum behind the idea we've previously talked about - posting photos showing people riding and including a mention of the neighborhood.

I want to add here several years of contrary experience. This is not to dispute the orignal poster, but to offer some additional perspective.


I've been commuting by bike from Beverly to the Loop for 5+ years (2 or 3 times a week when the weather is decent). I have experienced very few incidents of the type described (I'm an old white dude). Overwhelmingly I have been greeted with smiles and "hellos". Just the other day a woman (African American) pulled up along side me at an intersection, rolled down her window and offered me a chilled bottle of water.


Again, this isn't to say other experices don't happen, but I don't want people to think they can't ride bikes safely on the Southside. Overwhelmingly people have been very nice to me.


I have had a very few incidents that concerned me (I was once hit by paintball rounds...). And there are certainly drivers using the bike lanes as passing lanes and generally disregarding the rules as to cyclists. But I have not found it to be particularly worse than when I ride in other parts of the city.


I certainly agree that there is work to be done on bike infrastructure (and on police support). I would suggest Halsted as a model for that. Nearly the entire reach from 87th to Monroe in the West Loop is clearly marked bike lane, and the road has been improved such that it is a continuous, straight, level, smooth 10+ mile ride. It's actually become quite a joy to ride.


I think obdurate Aldermen might be encouraged to look at Halsted and they may see that modest bike infrastructure works (and may result in additional monies to keep the roads in good repair).


Thanks Jim for your positive comments and I agree.  In my frequent rides on the south side I am often greeted with approving honks waves and thumbs up.  Most auto drivers are gracious at four way intersections allowing me to go first and I always respect their 2 tons of metal.  Its the infrastructure and the maintenance of I have issue with.  The last truly negative experience I had was in Oak Lawn.

That's consistent with most of my experiences riding the bike lanes on Halsted from 87th as far as Greektown, as well as many other areas on the south side. I'm a minority in most of the places I'm riding on the south side (white in majority black neighborhoods) and I've had few negative experiences (occasional unfriendly words or someone passing too close).  I've had a lot more friendly moments like the one Jim described - nice encounters with drivers who stopped next to me.

It's good to see people angry about the inequality of biking in parts of Chicago.  I would follow the leads of Shawn C., Ann A., and Peter T.  They have some of the best understanding of this very complex issue. 

I would want to offer several suggestions that will help plant positive seeds to reversing this in the long run.  Build a tradition of annual Aldermanic Ward, State Senate District, or Assembly Rep District bike rides on the South Side.  If you can't get Alderman Harriston to active support more biking, then work around her district.   BTW Alderman Harriston does ride a bike. In the past, she has attended several Bike The Rides.  I don't know if she still sponsors a youth sprint Triathlon in the district.  

Building more realistic biking riding opportunities for people on the South Side. When I mean South Side I mean south of 63rd. 

There are other key southside streets to could use a protective bike lane.  Peter and Ann know which ones.

More bike shops south of 63rd. 

Please Please welcoming law enforcement is the last every last thing to do. 

If you can't get Alderman Harriston to active support more biking, then work around her district.   BTW Alderman Harriston does ride a bike. In the past, she has attended several Bike The Rides.  I don't know if she still sponsors a youth sprint Triathlon in the district.  

I will stop here.


Yes Leslie was a big supporter of Tri-Masters Youth Triathlon team. If she rides we need to invite her to ride with MTC3 on a Saturday. 


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