The Chainlink

I got harassed by four separate motorists on my commute home this evening! I was riding down Lincoln, in the middle of the lane for parts of it because I didn't feel safe riding all the way to the right. Lincoln does not have a bike land, only sharrows. I don't like to ride inside of the door zone, and cars were passing me too close on the right. I got honked at a lot and yelled at. Same thing happened on Aldine. I try to ride down side streets because they have less motor traffic. I don't quite understand why the cars didn't go one block over to Belmont instead, if they were sick of being stuck behind me. A taxi and a Cadillac followed me for two miles, honking and yelling the whole way, while following too closely. Sorry for the rant, I am just getting frustrated with asshole drivers. Am I being too aggressive by riding in the middle of the lane?

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I feel that I shouldn't have to put my own safety at risk just so some driver can get home 30 seconds sooner.

Letting cars that are backed up behind you when there is room to do so is not putting yourself in danger unless you have truly horrible bike handling skills and a near total lack of situational awareness.  You forced two cars to be stuck behind you for two miles!  Please tell me that you can see how that is frustrating to the motorists.  You can justify your selfish behavior by saying they should have taken a route that was more convenient to you but the inverse of that is that YOU could have taken a route that was more convenient to THEM! 

Are you seriously going to try and tell me that there was, at no point, an area where you could have safely squeezed over to let them pass?  I have never had to force a car to wait behind me for a BLOCK let alone TWO MILES.  It is not hard to judge a space of 2-3 parked cars in which it is safe to squeeze over, or even just slow down enough to not worry about getting doored, so that you can get passed at a safe distance.

Also, do you have any idea how frustrating/annoying it is to motorists to have you hold them up in traffic only to have you pass them at a light gaining distance on them and then cutting back in farther up and continuing to hold up the works?  I am not sure I can think of a more dick move to pull in traffic, if you want to take the whole lane you need to continue to take the whole lane at signals; if the shared lane is to narrow to be safe when cars can pass you how does it suddenly become safe when you can pass them?

Adam Herstein said:

I feel that I shouldn't have to put my own safety at risk just so some driver can get home 30 seconds sooner.

Am I missing something here? I've rode Lincoln to Wells a ton, and never felt unsafe or forced to ride in the door zone. If you ride the middle of the sharrows, you'll be fine. It is my feeling that if you're over any more than that, you may have some sort of paranoia in regards to riding city streets or packed roads.


Google street view Lincoln & Berteau. On the SW corner, there's a woman in a minivan parked on Lincoln there, with her drivers side door wide open. You can see that if you're smack in the middle of the sharrow, you'd avoid being doored (albeit, with not much room to spare.)


I'd also suggest using quieter side-streets if you feel endangered or skittish about riding major roads. Often times, I'll even do that just for some peace and quiet and the ability to "stretch out" and ride in the middle of a lane.

We need to be mindful of Marshall McLuhan.  Our words and actions need to jive.  I agree with Dug's intent but think perhaps his word choice belied his message. I read that message as - The road is a cooperative acitivty. bikes, cars, etc all have to play together. I completely agree with him.  One could argue his tone (we all get hyped a bit and I will give him a pass) was less cooperative.  Lincoln Ave. is a perfect vehicle for this discussion as there is room on both sides for the experienced cyclist. We must keep our eyes peeled for  doors as we should not be smack dab in the middle of the lane unless we are making a maneuver or otherwise temporarily occupying.  The far right is also a poor place to be (both on the road and otherwise). Darting from behind cars to being in sight is not a great way to ride.  Take a straight line in between the parked cars and driving ones. Everybody moves except when somebody double parks. If you do not yet have the experience to do this you may not be ready for riding this road.  I admit urban cycling can be claustophobic for the inexperienced.  It takes time to get comfortable. 


This morning I rode in with a group and a guy was making a delivery with a small truck on Wells and took up the bike lane. Somebody in the group must have barked at him. He said "Hey, I'm just trying to do my job."  He really had no other option and didn't deserve the dissonance. It was not hard to ride around him. I would have less tolerance for a car just sitting there outside of a Starbucks.

Dug, since the issue of how cyclists are perceived by the public is clearly dear to you,  (unfortunately more than rider safety) I highly recommend you spend less time acting like a prick on the Chainlink and at Rapid Trans, and more time having compassion for and patience with fellow cyclists.       

notoriousDUG said:

...fanatical trolling...

Agreed. You should have not to put your safety at risk. And there are some narrow stretches on Lincoln where one can justify taking the lane.

But the question raised by many in this thread is whether you did yourself a disservice by taking the lane for 2 miles straight. In my opinion you did.

Adam Herstein said:

I feel that I shouldn't have to put my own safety at risk just so some driver can get home 30 seconds sooner.

i've noticed a trend here, of late. any time you can get zeotrope, or really, any radical moral absolutist, to agree with you, you're probably wrong.
it also seems unlikely that a delay of two miles would have cost them just 30 seconds.

any time you deliberately choose a dangerous activity, your right to safety, while still definitely your right, is superceded by your obligation to behave in a manner that is decent to those most affected by your choice. if you lack the confidence to behave decently, to bike well in the city, then perhaps you should stick to trail riding, and start taking the train to work.

notoriousDUG said:

How is blocking traffic safe?

Do you understand what sharing the road even means?

Zoetrope said:

Stupid me, you're right.  He was clearly trying to get home un-safely.  

So you would prefer cyclists just put their tail between their legs and carry their bikes over to the sidewalk when cars are buzzing, honking and yelling?  That's definitely sending a message to motorists that cyclists have a right to the road at all times, as opposed to just a small portion of it when drivers are feeling charitable.     

Duppie said:

Was he?

ill second that

Kevin C said:

Difficult to tell from your account of the events, but if you are obstructing a taxi and a Cadillac for two miles, you are no longer traffic, you are a traffic hazard. Taking the lane is a short term solution to traffic impediments and stretches of fast roads where there's not adequate room to ride to the right and avoid the door zone. I don't think aggressive is the proper adjective. You may not be fast enough or may be lacking in bike handling skills that make it difficult for you to ride with traffic. If your solution is that cars should get off the road which you have decided to occupy, and take an alternate route, it doesn't sound like you're being an aware or astute "share the road" user. Drivers get frustrated with asshole bike riders too.

Amen to that.

I can only add that a mirror helps a lot to be "very aware of your surroundings."

Melanie K said:

I ride Lincoln  on my commute, from downtown to past both Belmont and Montrose, and farther north home and back to work again everyday. The farther north you get on Lincoln, the less friendly the vehicles and less "sharing" of the lane. When possible, I try to ride at least a few feet away from the dooring areas if there is traffic, or I try to position my bike in the middle of the painted "sharrow" as much as possible, while keeping my eye open for doors opening in my path. If you ride it long enough, it isn't half as bad. People will yell and honk if you are in the middle of the lane on any busy street. I find that sitting in the middle of the painted sharrows keeps them pretty quiet, and if they honk, I just point that I am where I am supposed to be.  I do agree, though, that many times people will pass you on Lincoln with about 6 inches to spare. My best advice is just to be hyper aware of passing cars and try to get over a bit to let them inch by.  It really isn't all that bad of a street, even in rush hour, but you do need to be very aware of your surroundings. 

This picture is popular among my car enthusiast friends.

this one too

Now, for those two miles you had a taxi and cadi riding your "bumper"..were you passing anyone?  Were you turning left?  Was there traffic behind you able to legally move faster than you were allowing them?




Take the lane when necessary (passing someone - or a pothole, glass, car door, double parked car, slower cyclist, etc...; or you're about to turn left) then MOVE OVER, JACKASS. (read that with the comic tone of the pic, I'm not calling you a jackass, I haven't met you....I'll reserve judgement :D)

Share the road.  Cars have the same legal right to be there that bikes do.  Car drivers acting the way you did results in road rage directed at them from other drivers.  Keep your head up and balance your safety with courtesy towards others.  Depending on where I'm going, 2 miles is the entire commute.  I find it hard to believe that in that entire ride you couldn't find a safe spot to let faster moving traffic by, regardless of being on a bike, a motorcycle, a car, or a bus.

Lincoln from Halsted to Wells has been easy for me for four years.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.  AM/PM.  Almost every week day, any weather.  I am not Superman.  I am still in one piece. 




Bike safety is very subjective. There's not a catch all for the right or wrong thing to do in all situations. You do your best to stay safe as each incident comes up.

Perhaps taking the lane for that long of a stretch (and that appears to be the issue--that long of a stretch) may have felt safer, but if it were me, I would also be concerned about my safety with a pissed off person in a ton of steel behind me for too long.

There are drivers, pedestrians, and bikers who pull jerk moves. There are also the drivers, pedestrians, and bikers who are respectful of other traffic and that we're all trying to get somewhere.

I once saw a sign on a trail that said "Bike considerately." I think it's a good motto.

I ride Lincoln, and traffic has certainly pushed me further to the right than I would like to be, but you can always wait til there's a lapse in traffic to get back out towards the middle/left of the sharrows and claim your space as a cyclist.


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