The Chainlink

I've seen many comments on social media lately by people who've stopped riding bikes on the streets.  Here's an article by someone in SoCal who made that decision:

I don't think it's coincidence that mountain biking in the 1980's, and gravel biking in the last decade, came about in the US vs. say, Belgium.  Both, while legitimately fun, were IMO in part our response to being driven off the streets (pun intended) by bad urban planning/street design, increasing auto traffic, and most recently, by mobile-phone distracted drivers.

While the dangers of transportation cycling are well known, I think the response of those who decide to keep their bikes off the streets, and instead drive for transportation, is misguided.  I've had terrifying moments on my bike, but even more terrifying moments in my car.  But on the bike, there's also joy, while driving is merely and only soul-destroying, both for the drivers, and for all who must live in car-centric communities.

I encourage everyone to ride carefully and defensively, as I do, remembering that even in our moments of cycling joy, we are in the US, not NL.  But I fervently hope that that not too many of us lose heart and succumb to fear.  Transportation cycling has had many setbacks in my lifetime, but there's also been progress that it would be a shame to lose.

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I've noticed a marked increase recently in comments related to staying off the roads, even in my area where you can often ride for miles without seeing a moving vehicle.   We had a group ride last month with a route that included bike path, paved roads, and gravel.  Had one rider who only rode the path, so went solo most of the day.  I don't think we were passed on the road more often than once every ten miles.  I understand the self preservation angle but am not to the point where I will consign myself to only riding the path or an indoor trainer.

You took the lane on the 5, right??

i prefer to call it "ghettoisation."

Tremulous riders stoking fear of the streets,  automobile culture demanding more and more speedways, and societal marginalisation of anyone who does not drive are all working together to create a situation where it's soon likely the only place one may use a bicycle is on a trainer, in a spin class, or on marginal go-nowhere park paths. There are ever more folks who'd like cyclists to disappear entirely.

And don't even get me started about mandatory helmet laws...

I have no intention of giving up transportation cycling. I had a very pleasant ride this morning through Beverly and Morgan Park, not seeing many moving cars except when crossing major streets.

I have no intention of giving up riding on the street but the hostility of some drivers to bicyclists is frightening. This morning I was riding southbound on Lake Park approaching Hyde Park Blvd. This is a divided street with two lanes in each direction as well as an additional parking lane on the west (southbound) side of the street. I was in the righthand traffic lane as cars were parked next to the curb and I prefer not to weave in and out of the parking lane. I heard a driver behind me blast his horn. As he passed me, his vehicle actually swiped the side of my body. I caught up to him when he stopped at the light at Lake Park and Hyde Park Blvd, knocked on the driver side window, and told him I should report him to the police for hitting me. He told me I was riding in the street! I told him I had a right to ride in the street. Then he started apologizing. The crazy thing is, he could have easily gone around me because there are two lanes of southbound traffic and traffic was light, so nothing forced him to sideswipe me. He did it purposefully. I have have had previous experiences with drivers who believe bicyclists have no right to ride on the street in the absence of a bike lane and believed they were within their rights to literally run me off the road by passing me with only inches to spare (including a CTA bus driver who I did report to the CTA), but this driver actually contacted my body. Scared me half to death. 

I had a an SOB swipe me with his side view mirror. I chased him to a stop sign and then a stop light, and he pulled away both times before I could catch up to him, before I lost him. I'm happy that I didn't catch him tho because he would have ended up in the hospital, and I would have probably gone to jail.

That was probably the hardest I've ever ridden a bicycle.

Yeah, it freaks me to have such thoughts with such careless selfish cagers. I'm thankful I didn't take any further actions other than knocking on their window to give them the bird and just keep rolling leaving them in the gridlock they were in a hurry to get to ;)



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