The Chainlink

Those that have ridden much with me know me to be a non-sufferer of people that would abuse our rights and safety as cyclists. Yesterday as we were wrapping up our second research ride for Lincoln Square and heading back a little before 6 we experienced two seperate incidents of the type I am talking about.

The first was when a huge-truck guy started tailing me after my bag hit his side mirror while I was in the bike lane. He wanted very badly to engage in some verbal back and forth but I don't really speak all-cuss, so it was kind of hard. In essence, his point was that I was bad because I hit his truck. My counter point was that I wouldn't have touched his truck if he had given me the required 3 feet of space, particularly since I was in the center of the bike lane. I mentioned to him as part of this repartir that he was right then and there riding right over the painted cyclist in the bike lane. I also mentioned to him that I was glad he had missed his turn and Happy Tuesday.

The next incident actually began before this incident, but finished after it.

We were all in single file on the Lawrence avenue bike lane heading west from Lincoln Square. A moped/scooter dude is weaving in between the bike lane and the regular lanes right in front of me. I hit my brakes on two occassions while he was doing this and was of course being extra cautious recognizing his complete recklessness and obliviousness to my presence. As we pulled up to the light. The conversation went something like this:

ahem - I may be removing certain exchanges in light of obeying forum rules -

Me: "You know this is a bicyle lane. There are no motorized vehicles allowed in the bike lane."

Jackhole: "This is a bike."

Me: "It is a motorized vehicle. It is illegal for you to be here."

Jackhole: "Why don't you let me worry about that."

Me: "I see. You are more important than anyone you don't need to obey the law."

Jackhole: "Well I feel perfectly safe in the bike lane. Why don't you mind your own *$&* business?"

Me: "It isn't your safety that I was worried about and it is my business since you are in my lane"

Light: I become green.

Jackhole: "&*! You"

He speeds off, only using the bike lane. We stop at the next light, and engage in a little more....debate. Then the first incident occurs as described above with big-truck dude. This is during the point where the jackhole, trying to gain advantage pulls right just at the intersection before my bag "hit" the truck's mirror. He ends up stuck behind cars jammed up before the turn onto Pulaski, which we are able to navigate around.

Later, he catches up, while pretending to pedal his moped/dickmobile/whatever and pulls right in front of me again. I hit the brakes pretty hard that time and got out the camera. He also starts cruising in the parking lane to the right of the bike lane and weaving into the bike lane as he sees me getting closer. I slowed up and he continued to do this, but also gave some nice shots of his license plate/person. Here he is:




I only wish I had grabbed the camera quicker to show more of him in the bike lane. I thought I had it on video sooner than I did, because it was during a time when he was weaving between the car lane, bike lane and parking lane. In this video, he is way off in the distance, but he is doing more of the same, though at this point just between the parking and bike lane. This was shortly after he re-passed us while calling me a loser.

So the practical question now....what do you do when confronted with such unmitigated douche-baggery? The photo evidence doesn't show his infractions and even if they did, the cops are unlikely to care.

How do you all handle this kind of nonsense? What is the appropriate response for this type of action by motorists?

Also, how do you look at the bigger picture......inherrent safety concerns of confronting idiots vs. standing up for your rights?

Cheers - Lee Diamond

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Well, in the longer term we are putting our safety at risk by doing nothing in the face of those who put are safety at risk in the near term. There has to be a better way to put that.... sorry!

What I am trying to say is that if we don't stand up to the bullies they will continue to bully us. Hardly an original thought I know, but I think it applies here. Of course, in real life it won't always turn out the way it did on Leave it to Beaver or whatever.


Lee Diamond said:
If there was a way to refocus this discussion on the matter at hand, that would be lovely.

Namely, these questions:

How do you handle actions by motorists who abuse the bike lane, cut you off, or endanger your life as you are biking in your rightful place?

What are everyone's thoughts on putting your safety at risk by confronting people who violate the above rules vs. standing up for your rights?


Cheers - Lee Diamond
aswesome idea. but what kind of hand signal was that? a super quick uppercut to a bug?

Ryan said:
With this, you can have lasers AND a bike lane all the time!

http://www.lightlanebike.com/
When this sort of thing happens to you, call 311 and report the incident. They will need the time, street location, identifying information about the offender, and a description of the occurrence and a license plate of the car, motorcycle, etc. A week later you'll get a Service Request Summary report and Complaint Affidavit from the Department of Consumer Affairs. They will ask you for more information and go after the $#%@#$. I am in the process of completing this paperwork for a taxicab that abruptly decided to pull into the bike lane for a fare that nearly cost me my life. Dont let them go scott free. The law is on your side if you take the time to go after them.
Last week I had an opportunity to talk to a drive who cut me off. I was going west on Belmont, coming down the hill over the river (just west of Elston). I was in the right lane pretty much coasting down the hill since traffic was stopped at the stop sign ahead. This woman didn't even look in her mirror and just cut in front of me. I caught up to them about a block ahead at a stop light, got their attention, and motioned for them to roll the window down. They finally did, and I just politely said - Hey, could you please be a little more careful next time and look? You really cut me off and could have hit me. I don't think the driver even looked at me and the passenger was looking at me really sheepishly and just said, okay, sorry. I said thanks and rode off.
Throughout the entire exchange I made sure I stayed calm, didn't yell, and didn't swear as I figured this wouldn't have helped the situation any. I don't know if this will help in the long run, but it was kind of nice to confront the person to let them know what happened.

Lee Diamond said:
If there was a way to refocus this discussion on the matter at hand, that would be lovely.

Namely, these questions:

How do you handle actions by motorists who abuse the bike lane, cut you off, or endanger your life as you are biking in your rightful place?

What are everyone's thoughts on putting your safety at risk by confronting people who violate the above rules vs. standing up for your rights?


Cheers - Lee Diamond
It isn't that hard to follow the law. That's what I do.


Video_Drome said:
Hey OP-

When you're driving your car, do you stay 3 feet from the bike lane? 3 Feet from the bike lane is about in the MIDDLE of the street if you're in a car.

cars riding down the middle!! THAT'S WHERE I RIDE!!! RIGHT IN BETWEEN THE CARS! SO THEY'LL SEE ME!!!



that is all
Aside ------

The same sort of venom-filled hubris some posters exude is like an echo of Dick Cheney. Wrong and proud of it.

Their inability to focus or concentrate on more than a sentence or two amongst many paragraphs seems like a side-effect of our culture where the full effect of a short-attention span feedback loop has reached perfection. It would seem that they should be happy, as ignorance is bliss, but instead, they are hopelessly depresed, unable to break their pattern, even when they know they need to.

You may notice they can't engage in an intelligent manner, ever. They are preoccupied with their relentless need for attention, negative or otherwise. They do everything possible to rile and revolt, because it is the easiest way to gain that attention.

You may have heard this over and over, but it bears repeating. You must always recognize their inability to stop. They can't help themselves. They are too self-focussed, and while it may appear arrogant and boastful it is actually merely overcompensating for their complete lack of self-confidence.

Trolls should be ignored.

I forgot that for one moment, but I remember again.

I just ate two cold potato pancakes and a slice of Swiss cheese, both from a lovely Polish deli down the block that has a surprising number of vegetarian options. Yummy.
Lee, Hi, this is great you brought these issues to attention. I'm kind of laughing because of the human condition during commute. Honestly, you made me think of times when I was a bike courier.
Aint it a crazy world!? It's wild. People just trying to get from pt. A to pt. B. (whatever that is). I'll admit, I've pulled many "crazy" moves just trying to get there. I really wish we all had our separate lanes out there, but, this would not be logical, would it. We are supposed to share the road, cause we are all in it together, Right? I've become numb to the arguments we as humans, come to while commuting. I do want everyone to know, that the road is a place, of golden opportunity to "get there," but realistically, it can seem like a darwin type situation out there. Space is a place for motorists, walkers, dogs, skateboarders, runners...etc. I'm not sure I'll hit my pt. here, but I'm glad you brought this up, cause these types of situations really can make you think! Anyways, thanks, and rubber side down.
Hey there pttp (what is your name?),

Thanks for the comments. I think it would be nice to have that sense where I am numb to the outrages of the daily commute. It sounds very peaceful but I haven't been a very good let it wash off my back type and it is a struggle to get there. I have been making serious considerations about how i interact with the folks that nearly kill me and have tried to moderate my response to accomodate for the fact that a second of road rage can be my death.

So on Sunday, I lead a tour for the Chicago History Museum. Coming back, I am going through throngs and throngs of people who were at the Sunday Air and Water Show, right when it started pouring rain. I have to get to my car, load my bike, change, and get to an appointment, so i am a little pressed for time. When I finally bust through the end of the North Avenue tunnel, I need to get to the museum parking lot quick, so i am off-roading it on my fixed-gear, in the pouring rain, avoiding people at the sidewalks and jump the curve and scoot around the street to stop just in front of the parking lot. I am literally right foot on the curb, left foot on the street and bike inches from the curve when this gigantic lexus bohemoth starts plowing right into me. He obviously didn't see me...not like dude was trying to kill me.

I thought about your comments and the comments of another friend, worried for me and my confrontational behavior, so I just stood up on the curve, pulling my bike with me and got out of the way. I did not confront him or engage him. I just went to my car, put my bike in it, got dressed and on my way.

Afterwards thinking about it, I am still wondering if it was the right thing to do or not.

thanks for your comments brother.




Pedal To The People said:
Lee, Hi, this is great you brought these issues to attention. I'm kind of laughing because of the human condition during commute. Honestly, you made me think of times when I was a bike courier.
Aint it a crazy world!? It's wild. People just trying to get from pt. A to pt. B. (whatever that is). I'll admit, I've pulled many "crazy" moves just trying to get there. I really wish we all had our separate lanes out there, but, this would not be logical, would it. We are supposed to share the road, cause we are all in it together, Right? I've become numb to the arguments we as humans, come to while commuting. I do want everyone to know, that the road is a place, of golden opportunity to "get there," but realistically, it can seem like a darwin type situation out there. Space is a place for motorists, walkers, dogs, skateboarders, runners...etc. I'm not sure I'll hit my pt. here, but I'm glad you brought this up, cause these types of situations really can make you think! Anyways, thanks, and rubber side down.
Several summers back, Pirogi John & I had a number of similar encounters with scooters and smaller dirt bikes on Lincoln below Irving Park. In one case we were able to get in front of 'em. We then turned around to remind them the picture on the pavement was of a NON-MOTORIZED BIKE!

And once, when I was on my own, I was able to pass a dirt bike just before the intersection of Lincoln and Ravenwood. The cager traffic was tight so I simply slowed down and stopped several meters from the stop light. The dirt biker had to slam his brakes and again I pointed to the picture on the pavement. He swore me up and down but held my ground even when the light turned green! He finally pulled around when traffic cleared and roared up Ravenswood.

I don't know if our "gentle" efforts worked but I haven't noticed much motorized bike traffic in our lane along Lincoln since then.
You look up where he lives(you have his plate numbers) and you flatten both tires by cutting each valve stem.
Well done BK! ;-) Kick some ass! ;-)
HAHAHA! How do you respond to something like that?

Brian Kennedy said:
"Why don't you just go fill up your tank." Isn't that the worst line ever? Well, he had nothing back for me and got really pissed and started swearing up a storm.

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