The Chainlink

Jack Kass-ery (was Gabe Klein, John Kass & Jake Hartford on the Radio)

As John Greenfield tipped us last week, Gabe Klein was interviewed/tormented by John Kass & Jake Hartford on WLS yesterday.  The Active Transportation Alliance did the hard work of finding the podcast of the event (I tried to find it myself yesterday, and failed).  Thank you, Active Trans!  It's a pretty reasonable interview, albeit one which has Kass yelling at Klein to make "the little bicycle people" pay, pay, pay for tickets and licenses (jeez, get over yourself Kass!).

Gabe did a deft sidestep when, after saying that removing lanes that motorists could use didn't necessarily reduce "throughput" efficiency of movement, and that many Chicago roads could handle more cars, Kass jumped in and said "Oh, so we need MORE cars?"  Gabe then deflected that to "more VEHICLES of different types, like BUSES and BIKES."  Nice work!

 

http://www.wlsam.com/FlashPlayer/default.asp?SPID=0&ID=2589403

Start at 16:50 if you want to avoid the first nearly seventeen minutes of blather about dead whales in Malibu and pigeons eating sidewalk vomit on Lake Street (I wish I had skipped over this myself).

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Actually, Anne Alt did the hard work and I re-shared via Active Trans. I also searched and failed. Thanks, Anne!

Then thanks to Anne Alt, Lee Crandall, John Greenfield....and especially Gabe Klein.

You're welcome.  

I'd like to offer a big thank you to Gabe Klein for doing an excellent job and keeping his sense of humor.

Wow Anne thanks! I think this is a terrific interview. My only wish is that Active Trans and Cdot point out that cyclists are tax payers when asked why bicycles deserve infrastructure. We are are tax payers here in Chicago-- many of us home owners.

Kass has an obsession with cyclists running reds, doesn't he?!?!? Kudos to Gabe for trying to bring drivers who run reds into the discussion.

 

www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-kass-1213-20121213,0,...

chicagotribune.com

Time to stop spinning wheels on punishment for rogue cyclists

Bicyclists and drivers should be treated equally under the law

John Kass

December 13, 2012

It's heartbreaking to see how the little bicycle people treat their benefactor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

He offers them kindness. Yet some of them respond with insolence and contempt for the law, running red lights, for example, without getting traffic tickets. For this outrage, they must pay, and pay dearly.

As many in the sustainable transportation movement know, the Rahmfather is a big supporter of bicyclists commuting into downtown. To make them happy, he's been putting Chicago's streets on a diet.

Good for bicyclists. Bad for automobilists.

He's squeezing out lanes of car traffic, installing new signs, buying untold gallons of expensive paint for the new bike lanes on Dearborn Street. Sure, there's less room for cars, and less room for drivers who actually pay the freight, but more room for the little bike people to ride to and fro.

So how do they repay him?

Well, some of them ride like barbarians, ignoring traffic signals, weaving across the lanes, hopping up onto the sidewalk while narrowly missing elderly pedestrians and innocent children. They drive the wrong way on one-way streets. They're completely above the law. You've seen it. I've seen it. They don't even get tickets.

It's bike anarchy, the neatly groomed little bike people with their cute spandex outfits and matching helmets and flashing red breast reflectors, and those grungy ones in their tattered jeans, looking like homeless bums on wheels, iPod earbuds in their hairy ears.

And if you dare ask them about their heedless ways, many offer only a two-word phrase, the second of which is "you."

(If you'd like to share your lawless little bike people stories, to chronicle their abuse of traffic laws in the hope of finally creating some equality between the bicyclists who pay nothing and the car drivers who pay so much, please send them to my friend Old School at wlee@tribune.com.)

Before the bicyclist lobby shrieks and gets its spandex shorts in a knot, let's say right here that there are many conscientious bicyclists who obey the traffic laws. They're the good little bike people. Unfortunately, my informal research suggests that the evil ones outnumber the good.

Every morning after Jake Hartford and I do our fill-in talk radio gig on WLS-AM 890, we stand for a few minutes on Lake and Dearborn to witness the bike anarchy. We think about making citizen's arrests, though we're far too dignified to give chase.

"I'm stunned, shocked and saddened at this wanton and disrespectful display," Jake said Wednesday as another bike hooligan whooshed through a red light on Lake, going the wrong way.

"To think of all the mayor has done for them, and this is the way they treat him?" Jake said. "It's an outrage!"

Just try taking your car up on the sidewalk in Chicago (forcing old ladies to jump out of the way) or speeding through a red light. Then see what happens. You'll get hit with tickets. And you'll be sad.

At the Tribune, we asked the Chicago Police Department and City Hall to tell us how many traffic tickets are issued each year to bicyclists. At first, it was the old story. Nobody knew a thing.

The police said they don't keep the records. City Hall said it thought the police were keeping the records. Finally a city official said that last summer, police stopped about 5,000 bicyclists for traffic violations during their special "Share the Road" traffic stops.

And how many tickets were issued?

Thirty-eight.

The rest were "warned."

"We do know that we do have an issue — whether it's people walking into intersections while they're on the phone, people on bikes running red lights and stop signs, or cars running lights — it's definitely a problem," city Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein (and big-time bicyclist supporter) said the other day on the radio program.

Yet here's the thing: Car drivers pay. Little bike people don't. And it's about time the bicyclists dig into the pockets of their skinny jeans and provide revenue like everybody else.

Chicago residents pay about $85 for a city vehicle sticker, more for a large car. The state license plate fee for cars is about $99. What do bicyclists pay? Nada. Tipota. Zilch. Nothing.

City traffic tickets cost car drivers $25 to $200 for each violation, while lawbreaking bicyclists generally pedal past the law scot-free. And now the city is taking out lanes of traffic to accommodate bike riders.

With all the uncollected fees, and all the unissued traffic tickets, the city is losing out on millions of dollars that should be flayed from the hides of those two-wheeled lawbreakers.

Attorney James M. Freeman, a good and careful bicyclist who represents riders struck by autos, says it's time bicyclists obey traffic laws.

"Let's have evenhanded enforcement," he said. "Bicyclists don't get pulled over for blowing red lights. I'm not saying let's lower the hammer on bicyclists, but let's hand out some tickets once in a while."

Not once in a while, Mr. Freeman. How about every single day and night, thousands and thousands of tickets, and state license and city sticker fees, too.

Increased enforcement is "good for everybody," Freeman said. "It's better for pedestrians. More than anything, it's irritating for motorists to see citizens violating the law. When I see it, it irritates me."

It irritates drivers who pay, compelled to watch free-riding bicyclists get political favors from City Hall, even as they disobey traffic laws.

But there is a way to soothe the irritation.

Bicyclists and drivers should be treated equally under the law. And that means the little bike people should pay up, like everybody else.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

"untold gallons of expensive paint"

LOL

Yawn.....

Being a transplant from DC, I saw the ending results of Gabe's efforts under Mayor Fenty and what has continued. According to WABA -- the "active trans" of DC -- bike commuting is up.

DC is beginning to pull their network of 'bike highways' together (ggw link) which connects DC with MD and VA inner suburbs. This is something I dream of Chicagoland doing. Imagine linking up existing off road trails (NSCT, NBT, LST, Bloomington, Weber Spur, and more) to PBLs to create one cohesive network.

All in all, I can't wait to see the outcome of what Chicago is doing here. I left DC just as things hit a critical mass. Good things to come people!

I sat at Gannon's Pub on wing night about a month ago and watched EVERY car, save for a small number who only stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk, roll through the stop sign on Lincoln. I am getting rather tired of the us vs. them mentality when there are bad drivers on both sides of the equation difference being that a bike causes far less damage then a car when accidents happen. 

Lets Invite Kass out for a ride and a beer at Gannon's so he can count with us how many cars roll the stop sign, talk on their cell phones and not stop for pedestrians vs bikes rolling a stop sign. It is an exceptionally lopsided number, exponentially more dangerous, and far more lucrative to the city to ticket the drivers.

edit... Thanks Thunder Snow for the copy so I didn't have give the Trib a click. 

 

If you want Kass to change his mind you might as well pray to St. Jude [Patron Saint of lost causes (and the Chicago PD)].

Good luck with trying turn this into a debate between two adults. Mr. Kass is clearly not interested in that. Otherwise he would not use the term "Little Bike People". It is like anti-car people using the term 'cagers' and then wondering why no one takes them serious.

I used to think he was funny back during the Daley administration. Now he is just like Rush Limbaugh or Lawrence O'Donnell: Another angry middle aged white guy, who uses the soapbox provided by the Tribune to preach to his converts. The only way he can continue to do that is by making ever more outrageous statements every day.


Tim S said:

I sat at Gannon's Pub on wing night about a month ago and watched EVERY car, save for a small number who only stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk, roll through the stop sign on Lincoln. I am getting rather tired of the us vs. them mentality when there are bad drivers on both sides of the equation difference being that a bike causes far less damage then a car when accidents happen. 

Lets Invite Kass out for a ride and a beer at Gannon's so he can count with us how many cars roll the stop sign, talk on their cell phones and not stop for pedestrians vs bikes rolling a stop sign. It is an exceptionally lopsided number, exponentially more dangerous, and far more lucrative to the city to ticket the drivers.

edit... Thanks Thunder Snow for the copy so I didn't have give the Trib a click. 

 

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