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Chicago Tribune Commentary: Chicago bicyclists, police yourselves

Commentary: Chicago bicyclists, police yourselves

Ron Grossman
Chicago Tribune

Though Mayor Rahm Emanuel is crowing about Chicago being named America's most bike-friendly city, I don't think it's a big deal. If we gave bank robbers a pass from prosecution, Chicago might be named the friendliest city to bank robbers, too.

New York, the former title holder, was competing with one arm tied behind its back. Its cops ticket bicyclists for running a red light or blowing through a stop sign. I have witnessed that there.

Here, I live around the corner from Wells Street, with its heavily traveled bike lanes. Yet I've never seen a cop pull over a bicyclist who pedaled right through a nearby stop sign, and there are plenty. I've yet to see a biker ticketed for running a red light, a common sight anywhere in Chicago.

To be fair to other cities, "Bicycling" magazine should have put Chicago in a special category: "For cities that wink at bikers' traffic violations." That would have allowed San Francisco (second place), Portland, Ore. (third place) New York (fourth place), Seattle (fifth place) Washington, D.C. (eighth place) and Cambridge, Mass. (ninth place) to compete in a category for cities that hold bikers to the same standards as motorists. Such as not going the wrong way down a one-way street, like the one I look down upon to see bikes going west past a traffic sign with an arrow pointing east.

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I wonder how many times the author has seen cops ticket motorists for blocking the bike lane, illegal u-turns, un-signaled turns and lane changes, entering intersections late and/or running red lights...

I suspect that he conveniently fails to notice those.


...failing to stop for pedestrians, blocking the box...

I literally saved a woman's life last night on Damen at Milwaukee/North. Wasn't riding, so started walking across Damen a few seconds after the light turned green. Woman ahead of me was looking straight ahead and didn't see the car that ran the red and was coming directly at her. Yelled watch out repeatedly until she stopped and the driver continued to speed past her without even slowing down. Based on this one incident, should pedestrians be responsible for policing themselves while obeying the rules of the road? I mean it's not like the person stepping on the gas in a 2 ton vehicle is was more likely to do damage. Cars, pedestrians, bikes are basically the same weight, velocity, reinforced material… 

I hope she appreciates what you did for her

She did. I had my headphone on, so I wasn't even sure if I was saying it out loud or just in my head until after she stopped. Automatically felt the need to apologize to her for yelling. She realized how close it was and turned to thank me. So much more on edge now, even off my bike.

I couldn't resist posting a comment. I did so as follows under the Moniker of Pedalboy:

Really?  Ron, you want to open up the tired nonsense about having seen a cyclist breaking the law now? At this time? After a tragic year where we have seen cyclists killed by vehicles all over the city?  Yes, there are cyclists who break the law and many of those cyclists take their lives in their own hands. I make no excuse for them. They are a minority like the drivers (I drive a car and  ride a bike) who do not stop, who speed, who play with their phones, who ignore cyclists and pedestrians. I know better than to lump you (who I am sure is an excellent driver) with them. How dare you lump me with your imaginary scourges of the streets. How dare you raise this on the day when cyclists will memorialize a poor girl who was killed by a truck while lawfully riding on a street that is commonly used by cyclists. Should we all lawfully use the streets?  Yes. That was pretty easy. Now how about you attack a hard problem...keeping the streets of the City of Chicago safe for all users. I'll wait. 


If we got all the cyclists off of the streets, traffic would be as unfettered and safe everywhere as it is on the expressways...

He shakes his fist at us all.
Now take a stroll on Wells in Old Towne on a Friday or Sat urday with cars parked 2 wide on both sides sometimes 3 or driving in the opposite lane to go around.


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