The latest discussions around and against the Drexel bike lanes by some cyclists among other topics gives me pause. When I am literally the only voice bringing researched articles and facts to the table to answer the barrage of opinions that go against all data, well, I am tired.
Do you read? Do you lurk? Tell me if you find The Chainlink useful. I pay to keep the doors open, try to use it as a tool for good, give people a voice, create a supportive environment. And I realize this is a small but vocal group shouting me down but it is making me ask some tough questions. I don't want to give a platform with the only purpose providing a platform to those that just think cyclists are rude, law-breaking people that suck, that we don't deserve bike lanes, how dare we question the repeated lack of bike safety support of one alderman, etc. Or if I bring up the issues of racism and sexism in cycling, well, I am racist and sexist.
So please, speak up if you think CL provides value as a cyclist. If you want to troll me, you'll just be making more of an argument to consider pulling the plug.
Not sure I even qualify as a lurker anymore since my retirement, but I do see thread headlines in my RSS reader. I appreciate The Chainlink and still wear my (short sleeve) jersey when the weather is warm enough. LMK if I can drop some coins in a virtual pot somewhere.
I post infrequently, but I guess you could consider me a lurker.
I find value in this site. I appreciate the information-sharing posts and occasional advice, and occasionally post my own. I read, but rarely respond to, the debate or argument posts.
Thank you for your efforts. I would miss this site if it went away.
Yas, you have nailed the conundrum squarely on the head, and it's not at all unique here -- that is, to identify or to speak of racism or sexism will invariably lead to the counter charge that it's YOU who are guilty of racism or sexism! Because I don't see "color", "race", or gender differences! It's insanely absurd.
Furthermore, from what I take of your complaint here is that Chainlink has become a predictable magnet for anti-cycling hate -- a reflection of the contemporary auto and social media cultures that we live in. I can understand how pointless it can feel. I appreciate your efforts here. Thanks.
I check it before going on the other more popular sites. It can be abrasive at times due to my uncouth behavior and thoughts but it's very much appreciated to interact with people who ride bicycles for transportation.
Hi, I've started lurking now that I'm commuting daily checking road construction reports etc. I'm a regular rider in the Drexel (now not-) lane, and almost got run off riding on the inside this AM--whereas before I found drivers to be pretty courteous of the markings. I've found bronzeville or Kenwood to be the favorite part of my ride, crossing guards and church folk and dog-walkers are really friendly and neighbors talk to one another with friendly waves. Very different feeling from the west loop, where drivers & pedestrians are absorbed in apps and riders are more aggro
I'm aware of the discussions in general around Drexel but unaware of the discussions on here. I know too some communities are distrustful of bike infrastructure because it was a very Rahm move to just jam a protected bike lane onto a random stretch of an otherwise car-centric road and add it to the counter of bike lanes constructed (looking at you, 31st st @ IIT) and there's something kind of...colonial about that. I ride on the south side a lot and am really sensitive to some of the shaming safety language ("you'll get mugged") that northsiders use when that is NOT my experience riding at all--so many more people hassle me or yell at me out car windows when I ride down Lincoln on the weekends. On MLK, I'll have delivery drivers ask me out windows how the wind is, how far I ride, and give me an attaboy. I'm not gonna say nobody's ever looked at me crosseyed or honked at me, but it's really rare.
I think too there's a sensible compromise to just allow Sunday parking in the Drexel bike lane and share the road. It's not that crowded of a street!
One of the problems of CL, because of its long history, sometimes you'll get on this mega-thread that's on pp.294 and as an occasional monthly visitor, it's hard to get up to speed for what caused a flare-up when I just want to see if Elston is still cut up or if there are closures for the marathon or whatever.
I lurk. I like to see what the bike community is up to (to the extent that there is such a thing), but as a middle-aged white male (I'm not, but I ride like one) in a non-south- or west-side city neighborhood who doesn't even bike commute anymore (because I walk), I feel like there is nothing I could add to the discussion lately. Mine is not the voice that needs to be heard.
I don't find The Chainlink to be a very welcoming environment; maybe others don't either. Yes, my opinion may differ from others. But I frequently get slammed, personally attacked, and called names just for expressing it.
So I regard The Chainlink as a confrontational forum. And when I post here, I fully expect a negative reaction. Sometimes it is fun to see how others react; but most of the time I just say 'to Hell with it...' and tune out.
The few other social media sites where I enter posts and opinions, have a much higher level of discourse. Everyone's opinion is treated with respect, no matter how contrary to the majority view. No name-calling or personal attacks. And as a result, much greater participation results; no one is afraid to post and get slammed for expressing their opinion. And many fewer lurkers than on The Chainlink.
I have been a lurker on Chainlink for quite a while and find the threads very interesting.
For a short time in 89-90 I occasionally commuted via bike from Oak Park & Diversey to Irving & Pulaski. I typically rode Addison or Roscoe and then would cut north through the neighborhood around Schurz High School. I read Robert Hurst’s Urban Cycling book and felt confident and relatively safe riding in Chicago. Back then there weren’t many, if any, bike lanes. I rode defensively and only got “doored” once.
That seems a long time ago when I reflect on how cycling in Chicago has changed, both for the good and the bad. There are more bike lanes including protected bike lanes. I’m amazed at the bike lanes in the Loop, especially the two-way bike lane on Dearborn. Thirty years ago you rarely saw anyone on a bike that wasn’t a bike messenger. Now when I go downtown, I see dozens of male and female bike commuters. Again, this was pretty rare in the 80’s and 90’s.
I’m much older now and moved to the burbs and started riding again 3 years ago. Sure, many people here will dismiss my comments as irrelevant since I don’t ride in the city anymore but I hope you will read on. I have tried to imagine myself in my 30’s again and riding in today’s bike commuting environment. I doubt that I would still attempt that commute in today’s conditions. Why? 1) Driver distractions 2) Motorists driving more aggressively than in the past and 3) Chicago’s streets have deteriorated further. You may disagree but these are my impressions based upon driving in the city.
I see many of the posters that criticize expansion of bike lanes and that cyclists should ride with the flow of vehicles. I suspect that many of these people are experienced “road warriors “ who have hundreds of miles of urban cycling under their belts. That’s great if you have the confidence to ride in traffic and have the instinct and experience to avoid danger. What about recreational cyclists trying to get exercise, kids riding to school or soccer practice, or a parent that wants to skip the car and ride a bike to do errands? Do you think they feel safe out there? I’m fortunate where I live that I am just blocks away from a MUP where I can ride for 20+ miles. Unfortunately, running errands is more difficult since most major arteries near me are multi-lane roads with 35-45 MPH speed limits.
I have read some of the posts that have criticized Yasmeen’s support for more protected bike lanes. Do you really think that paint on streets instills confidence for people to bike more? I think we can all agree that vehicle traffic is getting worse every year. It’s great to see more bike commuters out there but lets not forget the “less serious” cyclists who aren’t as comfortable on the streets.
This is my first post and I apologize for its length. For what it’s worth, coming from an old fart that lives in the suburbs, you bet I think the Chainlink is a valuable resource! I come here often and enjoy the exchange of thoughts. Yasmeen, thanks for making this resource available and I would be happy to donate to keep this going. How about putting a DONATE button on the home page?
Thanks for speaking up, Ron. To get more people riding instead of driving, we do need to create more protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways so that people of all ages and abillity levels can get where they're going safely.
Riding with the flow of traffic is an important safety issue, because drivers aren't expecting bikes to be coming AT them. Cyclists and drivers both have a much shorter time window to react and avoid a head-on crash, which has much greater potential for major injuries compared to being hit from behind at average city speeds. Riding with traffic is easier when using a mirror, so that you can see what's coming and have more time to react.
I hope you'll keep on riding where and when you can.
I have been thinking of Carla Aiello ever since the news broke. This is a terrible tragedy that this woman lost her life. I know that intersection on Milwaukee by the viaduct very well. I grew up not far away and attended Schurz a long time ago. Milwaukee along with Elston are perfect cycling routes. I realize I’m stating the obvious. If it’s so obvious to me, why hasn’t the city created a protected (with curbs) bike lane?? Plastic bollards won’t cut it.
Anne, your post struck a nerve regarding riding against traffic. I periodically come across riders in my area who ride against traffic, at night, with no lights or reflectors wearing dark clothing.
I’m tempted to buy a carton of low cost Cateye lights and stop them and hand them out but they would probably run away. It really is a problem here in the burbs that have less public transportation options than in the city.