The Chainlink

How do you feel about Bike Ambassadors / CPD safety outreach efforts?

For a Streetsblog Chicago post, on Thursday I interviewed staff from the city's Bike Ambassadors and the Chicago Police Department while they were doing an outreach event at Armitage/Milwaukee. The ambassadors were handing flyers to motorists and bicyclists reminding them not to use cell phones while driving and to obey traffic signals while biking. The police were flagging down adult cyclists who were riding on the sidewalk or who ran a red light and giving them (seemingly polite) warnings that what they did is illegal. For the Streetsblog post, what are your thoughts about these kind of outreach events? Do you think they're helpful in encouraging safe behavior by drivers and cyclists?

Thanks,

John Greenfield

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With all due respect, John, why wouldn't this be a good idea? All you're doing is baiting the people with the stupidest opinions/most time on their hands and a desire to be "in the news".

"Oh my gosh! Think of the children! These resources could be better served!" *Face fucking palm*

This isn't a thread asking whether you guys think cyclists running red lights should be a ticketable offense, it's asking whether or not you think the steps CPD and Bike Ambassadors are taking to make cyclists and drivers more aware of behavior they might think is not illegal/stupid (salmoning, texting, whatever) is a good idea or not.



Mike Zumwalt said:

 Do you think they're helpful in encouraging safe behavior by drivers and cyclists?

NO.

Read my comments on the Kinzie bike lane encounter a few years back. 

 Again if you run a red light on a cycle you're risking your own life, if the intersection is clear it's not a safety issue.

 

Zoetrope, actually a local bike blogger had criticized the outreach events but wasn't willing to be quoted in the article for fear of coming off as a crank, so I felt to write a balanced article it would make sense to check in with the Chainlink to see if there were many folks who share the same opinion.

In some cases, this may be helpful. Some cyclists are not aware that the following things are illegal in the city: sidewalk riding, wrong way riding (salmoning), riding at night without a headlight and rear reflector/tail light.  Some drivers are not aware of the hazard they create by: passing at an unsafe distance (less than 3 feet), dooring, right/left cross, right/left hook, etcl.  For those who are reachable through educational efforts, these outreach efforts can make a difference.  Those who are already aware (and don't give a s^&# about anyone else's safety) will only be reached when it hurt$ their wallets (ticketing).

Ah, understandable. Wouldn't want Rahmbo to show up at their door to taze them and drag them off to a cave in Siberia, never to be heard from again.


John Greenfield said:

a local bike blogger had criticized the outreach events but wasn't willing to be quoted in the article

In theory, I could see how these types of efforts would be a good idea.  The ones I've encountered have been poorly executed though.

I've been stopped twice in the Kinzie bike lane.  The first time was after I came to a full stop under the Metra tracks.  5-10 cyclists blew the stop sign completely - no one said a word to them.  I started to pedal through the intersection after stopping and a cop jumped out in front of me.  "You!  Pull over now!"  He quickly assigned a bike ambassador to talk to me.  She reminded me that bikes should also obey traffic laws.

Me:  But I stopped... 

Her:  All cyclists must obey...

Me:  I know, but I'm confused as to why you stopped me and not the cyclists that didn't stop.

Her:  It's also important to signal when needed and...

Me:  I stopped though.  Why did he pull me over if I stopped?

Her:  Sometimes cars aren't stopping at this intersection either.

Me:  I know!  But I DID stop.  And I'm not driving a car.  Look - a car just blew through the intersection without stopping.  Why isn't anyone going after him?

Her:  Would you like a bike map?

The second time was at the intersection near the East Bank Club.  Again, a group of cyclists blow through the intersection nearly hitting a few pedestrians.  A cop leaning against her bike shakes her head at them but then stops me.  I had just stopped and began to pedal through the intersection.  "Unless both of your feet hit the street, you're not stopped!"

In my experience, they're just yelling at whoever is easiest to stop.  Which is usually someone actually obeying the law.  Annoying.

Also, CPD constantly rides their bikes up and down the sidewalks on Michigan and Randolph.

I saw these people at that intersection on my way home from work last week. I think that it is OK as far as it goes, but I don't think that effort is directed where it most needs to be, which is with motor-vehicle drivers. Motor vehicles are what pose by far the biggest safety threat to cyclists, and I think that the burden of behavior modification should fall heaviest on those whose vehicle pose the greatetst threat. A cyclist can pose a danger to a pedestrian but none at all to a person in a car, whereas a car can be a deadly threat to a person on a  bicycle.

I go through that intersection every working day in the afternoon, and what I see most are the following:

-cyclists northbound on Milwaukee who jump the light, crossing Armitage when the left-turn arrow is green and the main light is red.

-cars turning left from EB Armitage to NB MIlwaukee who run the red and take up about half of the left-turn cycle for cars turning off of SB Milwaukee

I also see cars going NB on Milwaukee who ignore the turn signals and run the red light when the left-turn arrows go green.

Advising cyclists not to do the above helps, but not as much as advising car drivers not to drive dangerously.

My Comment:  Surely the "both feet on the street" standard isn't real.  I cleat on leg into my pedal.  When I stop, and I do stop, the other leg will go to the ground, but I certainly do not uncleat at every stop sign or stop light.  That would be tantamount to requiring each car to go to neutral at every stop sign or light.   If, in fact, this is the "standard" the ATA needs to go to the City and get them to clarify this point.   But yes, the "two feet is a the only stop" is sadly the kind of mindless drivel that I would expect from one of the Ambassadors.

blair_ said:

against her bike shakes her head at them but then stops me.  I had just stopped and began to pedal through the intersection.  "Unless both of your feet hit the street, you're not stopped!"

In my experience, they're just yelling at whoever is easiest to stop.  Which is usually someone actually obeying the law.  

I agree.  See my post above.


blair_ said:

In theory, I could see how these types of efforts would be a good idea.  The ones I've encountered have been poorly executed though.

...

In my opinion, they're just yelling at whoever is easiest to stop.  Which is usually someone actually obeying the law.  Annoying.

Agree.  There is a ban on texting/talking on a cell phone without a hands-free headset, right?  

JeffB (7+ miles) said:

Stand at the intersection during one of those events and count the number of motorists talking on cell phones, or rolling through stop signs, or speeding up for yellow/red lights, or failing to signal properly (you're going to need some help to do this). 

I hate this sort of thing because the police are using their authority with zero accountability.

If a cop thinks I'm breaking a law, let them cite me, and if I think it's meritless, I can fight it in court. But when they just decide to harass me about imagined violations without actually taking any official action which would allow me to defend myself, to my mind, that is nothing but bullying. The kind of thing that blair_ described above would really sour my day.

*sigh* When they're part of the problem, they're not doing us any good.

blair_ said:

Also, CPD constantly rides their bikes up and down the sidewalks on Michigan and Randolph.

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