The Chainlink

CPD culture and its hostility toward cyclists - and one suggestion to protect cyclists in light of this

I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that the CPD typically errs on the side of motor vehicle drivers vs bikers, in carrying out the law.

But I think it's worth noting that this isn't so much an attitude of indifference for cyclists so much as contempt for cyclists.

Here's some quotes from the comments section as well as the authors of second city cop blog, an unofficial CPD blog:

"not one cent of taxes paid by these slugs. More of the gimee-gimee crowd. Gimee protected bike lines, gimee protection while I'm riding all paid on the back of the motorist and motor fuel taxes. I'm ready to start playing bumper tag with some of these nitwits and how they ride their bikes."

"I still don't get this Divvy thing. The people who are using it are mostly people who would have walked anyway. Isn't it more carbon-friendly to walk rather than cause a bike to be manufactured? Others might have taken a cab, or the CTA, or a car, those are all money-makers for the city... Anyway, I'll continue to drive my 454 Suburban and pretend that we're still a first-world nation."

"But we do know that Rahm wants justification for taking out another hundred plus miles of serviceable vehicle lanes for bikes lanes that can only be used 6 months out of the year."

"Someone with "a lot of close calls" is either a (A) shit magnet or (B) a problem biker. Knowing bicyclists as we do, we're going to guess B."

"Any bicyclist suing the city for the condition of the streets should get a percentage of their lawsuit based on that which they pay into the system. That would be ZERO%. They pay NOTHING in gasoline/license/permits/taxes. They are a law-ignoring nuisance who should collect based on what they pay! Sorry for your loss, but it's a gain to the motoring majority."

[Regarding a hit and run]
"If that happened, it's horrible..........unless it was the jackasses from Critical Mass. Then I hope the driver was behind the wheel of a truck."

"Start writing the bikes traffic tickets for every violation.Have the bike units in every district concentrate on the bike routs at stop signs and other areas as the Rahmccycles have no regard for traffic laws. Remember its for the children"

"He can have his bike lanes but let's charge the people using those lanes and defer the costs to them. If you ride in those lanes you need a "bike city sticker" - 75 buck a year. If you get caught riding in lane without one - 75 dollar ticket. See - I just found s way to pay for it."

"First off, the "bike lanes" in most of this city are for shit!!! Secondly, come down to 001 or 018 and take a look at the number of Divvy bikes being ridden by the fine, upstanding youth of our "fair city." The harass citizens, commit crimes on them and are a general menace to society. Third, we all know Rahm has his 9 1/2 fingers all up in this shit and he's getting a cut. Fourth, the non-criminal element that rides these hideous monstrositys, have no clue about bike rules. They too, are menaces to the citizens. Just get rid of the damn things!"

"Make every bike owner 12 and older require a city sticker tag. Have bike traffic units start citing these crazy cyclists who think traffic signals, and general traffic rules of the road don't apply to them."


Now I will say that there were also some pro biking comments, but nothing going so far as positing that police should actually enforce laws that protect cyclists, more along the lines of "hey chill out biking isn't so bad", or "I bike, but only recreationally and on trails in the suburbs, and people are crazy to bike in the city". Whereas the posts that seemed to take delight in cyclists being run over, or posts suggesting stricter enforcement against cyclists, taxing cyclists, demeaning cyclists etc were not shouted down and there was and is this tacit acceptance of hostility to cyclists.

I mean, anyone can post comments on that blog, and we don't know for a fact that these are CPD people posting, but does it seem like that big of a stretch given what we've seen (just looking at Argonne's many posts detailing cars not ticketed, parked in bike lanes and his follow up 311 reports that seem to fall on deaf ears)?

I realize that all police are not a monolith, but they are quite a bit more monolithic than other industries and professions where there's more tolerance to having a diversity of opinion. They are very insular and do make an obvious effort to back eachother and have some uniformity of approaches and political opinions, thus the blue line and blue wall and all that.

This hostility towards cyclists from the CPD is systemic and it's part of their culture.

So what do we do about it?

Here's my two cents: the CPD has proven time and again that it is not up to the task of enforcing laws against parking in bike lanes, and writing tickets against drivers who door cyclists. I think laws should be passed that give the power to issue tickets protecting cyclists to other agencies that currently already have mechanisms in place to write tickets and prosecute and adjudicate those tickets.

Make it so that dooring or parking in bike lanes is a public health violation (a rebuttable presumption of liability with a due process right to contest it), or an environmental violation (for example), and let the agencies that already enforce certain laws under their ordinance now have the power to issue these additional tickets and (if they win) collect the fine money to be applied towards their general funds.

This will also incentivize private attorneys to take on cases where there's now been a civil finding of liability (in dooring cases) so the injured party only has to prove damages and not liability.

Views: 1063

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Enforcement for auto-related violations is severally lacking in this City in general (when's the last time you saw a driver pulled over for speeding in City limits??), so while I don't disagree that enforcing cyclist safety receives an even lower overall priority, I think it's also an issue with traffic enforcement priorities at CPD and the City in general rather than just pure ambivalence towards cyclists.  

Turning some additional authority for enforcement over to other agencies might help, but the rub is that i doubt public health and environmental inspectors have the capacity/resources to really pick up much of the slack.   Also, if you essentially deputize inspectors to investigate dooring incidents and increase the size of those departments, what's the guarantee that the same bias doesn't just quickly develop with those inspectors?  In other words, are you solving a systemic problem by just reassigning enforcement to a different part of the system?  

To the degree City parking enforcement personnel can't write tickets for illegal parking in a bike lane, I think that would definitely be a sensible extension to their powers.  They're already patrolling those same areas anyway, so that's a serious area where they could pick up the slack. 

Anyone know if it's just CPD that can ticket for bike lane parking, or do parking enforcement agents already have that power? 

I agree that there's a larger issue of lack of enforcement in general. Without going too far on a tangent, my two cents on that is this is part of a strategy to push back against the whole BLM push for accountability. The idea being if they all "stay fetal", and claim that the burden of increased accountability ties their hands and makes it impossible to do their job without getting in trouble, then criminals will catch on, crime will go up, and society will crawl begging on hands and knees for police to put a stop to all the chaos. At which point they can demand carte blanche like the "good ole days".

Ironically, this kind of proves the issue in the first place. If my job got stricter and demanded more accountability, I would have to conform or face discipline or termination. The fact they can fold their arms in protest and get away with it says a lot about the problem of lack of accountability. But anyway, yes that's a factor but I think the other factor is the police's traditional conservative car culture mentality which breeds this contempt for cyclists.

I'm definitely all ears for other alternatives to protect cyclists. I just think waiting around for the CPD to get its act together isn't a good one.

I realize that other agencies may not have the resources to pick up much slack, but for example, in another thread there was a story with some data about parking tickets written for bike lane violations. I think there was like one ticket where Argonne had documented like 50 violations. Now if another agency writes 1 more ticket at that location, they've already doubled enforcement. And if some of that fine money goes into the other agencies budget, that may help them get the resources they need to do further enforcement.

To be honest, I think the real solution is automated enforcement.  There's no reason that the dedicated bus lanes for loop link shouldn't be camera enforced to ensure drivers don't drive in them.  The same should hold true for red lights at major intersections, and dedicated PBLs.   

Problem is, automated enforcement here (and in the country as a whole) has become politicized, alderman have based large portions of their campaigns against defeating/rolling back such measures, and the public at large hates them.  That's unfortunately part and parcel of the huge disservice politicians (and the equipment companies themselves) did by treating automated enforcement as a potential cash cow when first rolled out here, rather than an actual tool to help foster safety.    


Yes, yes, yes.

There definitely is a lack of any traffic enforcement. I've seen CPD vehicles at intersections where someone blows a red light and they CPD vehicle doesn't move. I watched a cop drive up Elston the other day past 2 vehicles parked in the bike lane - didn't even slow down as he passed them to consider ticketing them. 

Not to go too far off topic, but I do notice that drivers, knowing they will not get ticketed, engage in worse and worse behavior - blowing stop signs to make a right turn, going through red lights, etc.

Ahhh! The old days and all the wonderful promises. How much things have changed.

42,671 tickets for double-parking in 2001?! (non-bike lane).

"You can tell people what the rules are, but if there is no enforcement, you won't get compliance," Neufeld said.


I've been seeing the same thing, steadily getting worse over the last few years in the Loop and in neighborhoods across the city.

i am of the opinion that the CPD not only hold cyclists in contempt, but civilians in general. When i think about the people i knew in high school who later went into the force, and how they behaved then, i am not surprised at the overall negative attitude towards humanity shown by too many among the police.

And by all means, I'd like to see it fixed, but as a cyclist, I think it's worth exploring ways to find a fix that doesn't depend upon the CPD cleaning up their act. If they don't want to enforce laws that protect cyclists, let some other agency do it.

I'm certainly not holding my breath waiting for the CPD to make things better.

I should contact a few universities, and see if any of their engineering students are interested in designing and building an autonomous bike lane enforcement vehicle.  Take a trike, add navigation, and a license plate reader, and you have a revenue generator. It can spend all day tolling along the city's bike lanes, snapping photos, and issuing citations.



© 2008-2016   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C.   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service