The Chainlink

Yesterday Monday August 27th at 4:45 pm I was riding north on Dearborn after work.  It was crazy windy and gusting back and forth, so I was taking my time, no hurry.  Between Lake and Wacker, another cyclist passed me going northbound, at quite a fast speed, and I thought to myself, you're going a little bit fast for riding in the city at rush hour buddy.

Not seconds later, as I approached Wacker, I hear a CRASH at the northwest corner of Dearborn and Wacker.  Two bikers smacked into each other, one was speed racer I just described.  They were young in their twenties and quick enough to land on their feet, not looking like either one of them was hurt, although he had to have hit him at at least 20 mph.  Speed racer looks at the light and points to it, as if the other guy didn't comprehend.  He indeed did have the green, as he was just ahead of me when he crashed.  The other guy obviously wasn't paying attention.  I heard him say "I'm sorry man".

That's my point.  In the city, at rush hour, with pedestrians and bikes and cars scattered about and everyone in a hurry to get home, please slow down.  Even when you have the right of way, you risk an accident by going just a little too fast. 

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So after everything you said, it doesn't appear that the speeding cyclist was in the wrong.

My point is that he was going so fast he couldn't avoid a collision.  

I've made the same point here about the dearborn bike lane, and I also got some flak for it.

Yes, you're within your rights to speed on your bike - I just don't think it's very advisable. The pedestrians do seem less clueless these days than when the bike lanes first went in, but all it takes is one collision to ruin your day- and the faster you go, the more dramatic the impact.

Lots of people either go too fast or ignore signals specifically in place for bikes on Dearborn. I'm surprised more pedestrians and delivery staff that wander into the lanes don't get hit.

It is one thing to be legally in the right; it is another to ride in a manner that is safe and smart and minimizes risk to yourself and to others. the Dearborn PBL is not a good place to Cat 6 your commute, especially at rush hour. When a surprise happens, as it did to Mr. Cat 6, you have less time and space to react and to avoid a crash. 

I think the issue many have (myself included) with the whole "you're going too fast" admonishments is who decides what is too fast?  Sure, 20 mph during rush hour in the Dearborn PBL doesn't sound like a good idea IMHO, but what speed is prudent?  17, 15, 12?  10 different people are going to say 10 different things, and it well depend a lot on how fast of a rider you typically are.

I mean, I ride into the loop on Warren/Washington in the morning when not many cyclists are in the lane, and given how empty it is I can routinely hit speeds between 18 to 20 in a lot of stretches.  If a car hits me, is someone on here going to say I was riding too fast to react (and trust me, it's not too fast to react, as I'm forced to react all the time and manage just fine)?  The cars around me don't think twice about how fast they're going, and rarely get admonished if they weren't grossly speeding, so I hope not.   

Ad- you beat me to it. I was going to say so you guys would blame me for riding too fast on Dearborn when a car not paying attention hit me while turning to go into a parking garage? With the logic of this it would be saying it was my fault for riding fast in the bike lane. 

I think victim blaming gets tossed around too liberally sometimes. I didn't say I would blame a person who goes too fast and ends up in a crash, I literally said going fast on your bike is "within your rights." 

But there's a large spectrum of "advisable" and "not so advisable" behavior that's within your rights to engage in.

I don't think the person who walks down a dark alley dripping in diamonds and gold, with a roll of money in their hand, has forfeited his right to not be assaulted and robbed. But is it so far out of line to point out that it might not be the best idea?

I don't think the "whistler" guy at the loop is going about his protest in the most effective way (for those who don't get the reference: ) but again, he's within his first amendment rights.

Maybe pointing out these things (when something goes wrong) regarding "advisability" amounts to victim shaming more than victim blaming, idk- but that's not the intention.

I don't have to agree with what someone's doing to agree with their right to do it.

It's not advisable for cyclist's to do a lot of things, including running red lights and stop lights when someone else has the right of way, etc.  It's also more than fine when people call cyclists out for that behavior. 

What I get annoyed by (and not to say your doing it here, but I have see it here from others) is society excusing the negligence of others because some cyclist do unadvisable things.  Maybe the cyclist doing 20 on Dearborn contributed to the accident, and maybe it didn't considering the other cyclist seemed to have clearly run a light.  

In the end, who knows.  But what I do know is that riding a bicycle fast isn't inherently dangerous in an of itself if you exercise a modicum of common sense, which the vast majority of cyclists do, and I'm personally not going to absolve others (especially drivers) for causing accidents simply because of an argument that a cyclist was going over some arbitrarily set idea of what a "safe" speed is and could have reacted quicker to the negligence if he had been going "slower." 

There were some not great comments after the cyclist was killed on Halstead that she must have been going fast since she was a triathlete.  I just don't see that type of post-hoc rationalization for why an accident may have happened as helpful in the slightest.      

Touche- I also get annoyed when people excuse the negligence/recklessness of others based on things that don't really have a legal bearing on culpability. But I don't think the topic of what's "advisable" should be off limits because some people don't get (or can't seem to handle) the distinction between that and who's legally in the wrong.

Running red lights. This could have been a statistic of running one and getting killed. 

I'm pretty sure that guy's been around since I moved to Chicago. He used to have hand written signs about Al Gore being replaced with a Russian duplicate.

Sometimes I see another guy on Michigan in a reclined electric wheelchair that used to sell American flag toothpicks out of a coffee mug on Belmont. He never did speak.


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