The Chainlink

Rant/does anyone feel like this/halp advice plz

I've been in a terrible cycling funk. This year is the least I've ridden my bike within the past 10 years. I'm just so turned off from the misbehavior of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. My bikes sat for the majority of the summer, and it's so unlike me to not want to bike. Am I being defeated and weak, or am I being rational, that it's not worth biking if I don't feel confident about it? It sucks. I've been hit once. I've been in more close calls than I can remember, like many of us. My girlfriend was in a hit and run and ended up in the hospital a few years ago. So many cyclists are being killed or badly injured with no justice. Chicago kinda sucks in my perception. If you're still happy to ride, I'm jealous, I really envy your confidence.

I bought a new bike last week (mad props to Manuel at Johnny Sprockets!!!) and I was amazed by my level of excitement to have motivation to ride a lot again! Yet, I didn't ride it for a few days. Feeling silly about it, I kitted up and finally got on the bike and rode the LFP.

As soon as I get on, I end up trailing a slower cyclist hugging the left part of the lane, riding the middle line. He looks back for a second and seems to slow down waiting for me, and I call out "on your left!" telling him I'm about to pass. Makes sense, right?

Right after, he yells out, "IT'S ON YOUR RIGHT, ASSHOLE". wtf? Sure you can pass on the right when necessary, but there were too many pedestrians to do so safely. Since when do you by default pass on the right? I didn't even think at all and I flipped him the bird as an instant reaction. I consequently felt bad for doing that, but it was so natural haha. I guess I do that to drivers yelling profanity at me too easily, so as soon as I hear someone yell something negative at me while I was on the bike, the finger goes up. was to another cyclist. A meanie. A baddie. That sucked. I don't want to flip off other cyclists. Come on, dude. It's bad enough.

Since when is "on your right" the default? Is it just conditional, choosing which side to pass? "On your left", is standard for the most part, right? I'm just upset.

Chainlinkers, I'm so turned off from cycling here. Help. I want to love bikes again.


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have you seen the HUGE running clubs? I mean groups of 30 or more. They run in large packs and take up the entire lane. I was screaming on your left over and over and nobody would budge. Oncoming traffic was really really bad too. 4-6PM is truly a perfect time to do this...

Then people scream at you for being in the wrong lane as you pass these groups. ugh. it was terrible.

this was earlier in the summer. avoided lfp for the longest time after this.

Absolutely the WORST.

AHHHHH I wish I knew who organized them so I could contact them. So dangerous and obnoxious.

Maybe a difference in learned lingo was a factor...

In H.S. track- when overtaking another runner we would yell a command to where we wanted them to be, such as "(stay) left!", only saying "left!" with (stay) being understood.
After moving to Chicago and communicating with other cyclists- I realized that locally popular commands were different.  Before I realized the difference- there was a period of confusion.

I always just want to say simply the side for which I'm passing (typically left) but the brain often follows the direction it hears for eg. I've simply warned folks by calling out "on your (the side in which I'll pass) only to have them move in that direction in a panic. I find it better to use non verbal means such as a bell or my Hornit (in the less loud "beep" mode) and give them the opportunity to move to the side and then I pass. If I can, I simply go off the path and give them a wide berth (fat tires are a plus in this regard). The public "paths" have decorum but that is not law and the reality is these situations are here to stay without regulations and enforcement.

Cool weather is the best biking weather; revel in it!

I think many cyclists in urban go through periods when they wonder if they're crazy to be out there.  I know I do.  One solution is to try to do some less-stressful riding.  Go out to an uncrowded path somewhere, or an uncrowded place.  I like biking the south LFP, or around southwest Michigan.  Rediscover the fun.  This will help recharge you.  And try not to let the small things bother you.  There are so many of them in the city that they can sour you if you let them.  I hope you fall in love with your new bike and that helps too.  Plus, as others have noted, this is the best time of the year for cycling.  You will be OK!     

I try to avoid the LFP during the warmer months. The concentration of stupidity and entitleness from fairweather cyclists, pedestrians, rollerbladers, etc. is just not worth the stress, which is a shame as the path is there for everyone. 

Tomorrow. Tomorrow is supposed to start off in the 40s. I betcha a wooden nickel the path will be near deserted. [fingers crossed]

There's definitely some truth to the idea of being a 'contrarian' for safety.

if EVERYONE is on the LFP going north. go south, or ride somewhere else, if EVERYONE is on the Milwaukee bike lane - take the other two sides of that triangle than the hypotenuse.

Speaking of being a contrarian, I just got a new bike this fall too, but I went for something a bit different. Its the mellowest, smoothest bike I've ever owned, drop bars, big 700x45 tires to take up pot holes, disc brakes, an internal hub and a gates carbon drive. I can get up and go if I need to - though not quite like on my all carbon racer bike - this one's built specifically to take the sting out of the city and potholes, handle the dirt and salt in the winter months and open up some dirt trails I wouldn't touch on 23c tires - and better handle hauling lots of stuff and maybe make a long haul/camping trip an option. I've found that it makes commuting more pleasurable and can give a workout without feeling like I need to super fast - and fits the more 'zen' approach I've come to over the past few years, especially in response to Chicagos new (yet terribly designed and dangerous IMHO) 'protected' lanes.

My zen approach, following the rules, at least Idaho stopping at ALL the lights and signs and waiting to pass the guy/gal that just shoaled in front of me until I have plenty of space to take the lane  does take some of that rebellious joy out of cycling I remember from zipping around when I was 20. Sure - but I'm too old and banged up to be an adrenaline junky every morning and evening, and I know that urge to 'get ahead'/'go fast'/pass that guy is the same thing that makes all the drivers out there act like a**hats - and I need calm that impulse in myself too lest I be a hyporcrite.

I find a more peaceful joy from turning the cranks in the morning and breathing some crisp fall air every day, and seeing the sights. I'd certainly pick that rather than squeezing on the CTA like a little human meat morsel in a giant metal sausage. Then when I can get out away from 'everyone else' on Sheridan Rd or DPRTrail or North Branch or wherever the congestion isn't - open it up a bit and really see what that bike can do.

The next time we're tempted to flip the bird, we might take a deep breath consider slowing down for a long enough to try to have a polite conversation instead, sugar may work better than vinegar - for all concerned.

i so hear you. i didn't ride for a week after the last fatality, and i get so mad at drivers that park in the bike lanes when there are pull outs 10 feet away; cut in front of you so they can slam on their brakes; don't use their turn signals; hug the curbs so you can't get past them; and just have no freeking idea that you're there.

i think 95% of it is ignorance, which helps a bit because, not sure why, i'd rather pity someone than hate them, but man! it wears on you!

biking itself, though? when i can get past my anger, is one of the few things in life that's pure joy. it connects me to the city, and the people i ride by that i can look in the eye and smile at, to the seasons and the weather. i don't feel that same joy on the train, or in my car :)

hope we all can remember and find and acknowledge and create and spread that joy, every day.

hope we all can remember and find and acknowledge and create and spread that joy, every day.

That's what I live for when I get on my bike. Thank you for the positive thoughts.

You were right, "on your left" is standard practice, on the right is OK (also when announced) but I prefer to avoid it.  The other rider was wrong, but much worse, he was belligerent, and that was completely unnecessary and inappropriate.

I love biking in Chicago, but I have a lot more problems with other bike riders than with motorists.  They/we tend to be a nasty, prissy, entitled bunch. I've been yelled at too by other riders because I signaled to turn left and got in their way, or watched bikers flip out at motorists before riding through a red light, or after almost getting hit by a car while biking through a red light.

I share your frustration with other folks on bikes who act in selfish ways.

Whether we're riding on streets or trails or wherever, we are riding in shared spaces. We don't own those spaces. We're just occupying them for a while, hopefully in peaceful ways that don't screw anyone else over.


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