The Chainlink

Speed Trap Alert! Where there are Chicago Bike Ambassadors there are Cops Ticketing You

It's 5pm on a late summer day, the sky is dark, and I hear thunder in the distance. I am biking south down Halsted trying to beat the rain home, while trying my best not to get hit by angry rush hour commuters who are speeding heavily after barely making the light on Roosevelt. Up ahead I see a line of cars stopped for the light on 18th St. Making a rapid assessment of my surroundings I see that there is no oncoming traffic and the sidewalk is clear. So instead of biking along the right side of the queue of cars and then trying to cut the cars off and make a quick left hand turn in the intersection I decide to cross the street and hop on the wide sidewalk for the brief 20 meters to the crosswalk.

Everything is going perfectly, until I hear someone scream at me, "WRONG SIDE!!!! OFF THE SIDEWALK!!!" To this I simply start biking faster, smile and think to myself, Whatever, this is a great line and it is safer then if I would have obeyed the road law of cars. Then I hear the screeching of tires and revving of an engine. FUCK!... I don't even have to look because I know that it is a cop. Sure enough a block down 18th St I hear the distressing sound of a cop siren "RWWWUPP, RWWUPPPP"

I slow down and the cop pulls up next to me. "Hey! Turn around and go back to 18th and Halsted."

"Why?" I inquire.

"You are being cited for blowing the intersection."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah, now go back to 18th and Halsted."

So, I turn around and bike back to 18th and Halsted. All the while the cop is slowly tailing me making sure I don't dip down a side street... I won't lie, the thought did cross my mind. When I get there I am greeted by another squad car, two bike cops and three Chicago Bike Ambassadors. They then spend 10 minutes lecturing me on the rules of the road, and that they are trying to raise awareness. I explain my situation, I was trying to get home before the rain and am sorry I broke the laws (I could not tell them what I really thought because I can not afford the $200+ ticket) and they let me off with a warning.

And here is the warning, "Bikers beware. You are subject to the same laws of cars and the CPD will start ticketing soon."

I don't know if this is complete bullshit, but with the parking meters being privatized the cops may not have enough cushy ticketing to do/quotas being met. If that is the case prepare for bike speed traps, bike parking tickets, and tickets for having no brakes!

If you are still reading, please use this thread to post bike speed traps and stories where the law is cracking down on cyclists. Also, keep an eye out for those pesky Chicago Bike Ambassadors because they are now working with the 5-0

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There are many studies about the enefficiencies of traffic lights and the lack of traffic management (and the pollution it helps create). This is very evident on Chicago's streets. And yes, we do blow through lights when we feel it is illogical to sit through them when there is no traffic. But the guy in the car...waiting on that same light...im sure also feels its quite illogical to sit around.

Yeah, laws may need to be redefined concerning bike. Its def not an easy sell, and maybe we are in fact a different class, but we are not defined that way and quite liable for ticketing. Im not a fan of it at all...just saying its fair. We are not above the law.

And hey...maybe...if they change laws in favor of cyclists...maybe more drivers will leave their cars behind.

But now that im thinking about that...more cyclists on the road WILL call for more regulation. oi.

Dan M said:
There's no easy solution to any of this. I run reds and stops when there's no one there or when approaching traffic is a block away. I know I'm breaking the law by doing it, and I know that some motorists get annoyed by it (the ones sitting at the light)-- but I'm not going to sit there and wait out the light when there's no traffic. To me it's illogical (and inefficient).

Just my two cents.
i got stopped once a few years ago in wicker park for riding the wrong way down a one way street. i tried to explain to the offficer i was trying to find an address and was lost. he was not falling for it. When he asked for id to write a ticket i pulled out my passport.He got all pissy and wanted to see a d.l or state I.d. I told him this was all i had and as per law a valid goverment issued document will do. Turns out you cant write a moving violation off of a passport number and he was to lazy to go back to his car and look it up.
thats why i never ride with my drivers license.
One of the purposes for our traffic laws is safety; at least that’s how I see it. If I make a wrong decision on my bike such as riding through an intersection on a red that I believe to be clear while an automobile is doing the same, than I am immediately putting myself at risk forcing the driver to make a vital decision that could possibly endanger everyone in the area. The dilemma is that some people do not posses the ability to carry out quick life saving decisions without hesitation. That is another reason we have laws, so that people who are not good at making such decisions are able to live their lives without harming themselves and others. Don’t do this and don’t do that because you could hurt yourself and someone else and if you do we will fine you.

The problem is that cyclists are forced to carry a different set of decision-making skills than a driver of a motorized vehicle. They are both supposed to share the same space while adhering to the same rules of the road that were written for motorized vehicles, not bicycles, all the while possessing a vastly different set of advantages and vulnerabilities. What lies in the path of a cyclist can be very different than that of a driver, not to mention the different amount of space they both take up. Reacting to what vehicles may or may not do, even with our current laws, is a never-ending game that the cyclist must win if he/she wants to survive.

Riding a bike in this city alongside drivers has forced myself to make lightning quick decisions so frequently that I have developed my own rhythm of riding. Unfortunately that rhythm does not always adhere to the decades old rules of the road that drivers have taken for granted for generations. Of course, it doesn’t help that stopping less while maintaining constant control of my bicycles speed makes riding it even more enjoyable.

Unfortunately it will be a never-ending battle until cars become obsolete as hover-cars take to their own sky roads leaving the asphalt to those who love riding bicycles. Until then, the powers that be will continue to find ways to profit off a system that was created for drivers not cyclists.
Here you go, M.A.R.K:

http://chicagobikes.org/video/index.php?loadVideo=police_training_2009


M.A.R.K. said:
Anyone have access to this training video for officers? I know I'd like to see it and what all is mentioned.

"The Police Department is using a new training video at roll call so officers can identify and enforce traffic violations that endanger cyclists."

burden said:
h3 said:
The current thread is about mistaking a collaborative educational outreach effort by two city agencies for a power-tripping revenue-suck and then ranting at "the man."


Come on, now. It's not like it was announced in advance or anything.
Thanks for the video link. Good to know that the CPD is going to be watching both cyclists and drivers more.

Follow the below link to see bicyclist laws in the IL vehicle code.
http://www.bikelib.org/education/laws.htm (link to pdf at bottom of page)
Sorry, M.A.R.K....it's Ethan, with Active Trans.

I was rushing and didn't sign this post. Not trying to lurk or post anonymously...we're all about openness, love and transparency here.

You are welcome, of course.

Again, that's Ethan, with Active Trans.

M.A.R.K. said:
Ahem.. Aren't the ATA folks supposed to sign their names when they post under that profile?

Not that I care in this particular instance, I would just like to know who to thank for sending this..

Active Transportation Alliance said:
Here you go, M.A.R.K:
http://chicagobikes.org/video/index.php?loadVideo=police_training_2009

M.A.R.K. said:
Anyone have access to this training video for officers? I know I'd like to see it and what all is mentioned.

"The Police Department is using a new training video at roll call so officers can identify and enforce traffic violations that endanger cyclists." burden said:
h3 said:
The current thread is about mistaking a collaborative educational outreach effort by two city agencies for a power-tripping revenue-suck and then ranting at "the man."


Come on, now. It's not like it was announced in advance or anything.
Wow, I wonder if every driver and cyclist in Chicago had to watch this video and pass a test on it, if that would help change things for the better?

Now I want to memorize all the codes so that when someone nearly kills me I can yell something like "MCC-9-80-035 Mofo, MCC-9-80-035!"
Tony,

Poorly enforced though they may be, we have our own HOV lanes called "bike lanes." They are special lanes that are reserved for us and our "morally superior behavior" and I'd say most of the time (about 98%), they are clear and unobstructed lanes just for us to use.

I break traffic laws here and there (a lot more than I should), but I certainly think that any dumb shit that happens because I'm doing that would be MY fault and if I got a ticket, I'd think to myself "nice move dumbass!" If we lived in a society where everyone got to decide if the moral value of their behavior required them to obey laws or not, we'd be in, oh wait, I guess we kind of are in that sort of world, and I know when I see some asshole in a car driving down the shoulder on the Kennedy in stopped traffic I don't assume it's because they are giving an underprivileged grandma a ride to the clinic, I think it's just because they are some kind of typical jerk who thinks they are more important than everyone else.

I ride about 6-ish days a week and drive my car about once a week for a consolidated grocery/errand running day and it's irritating as hell to sit in an endless line of cars because I'm used to whipping by them all day long and I'm instantly jealous of anyone I see on a bike while I'm stewing in traffic, so I can certainly empathize with drivers who find it a bit maddening to see bikers blasting through lights and stop signs. I think many of them should give it a try and maybe they'll find that it improves a lot of things in their daily lives, but I don't think we'll get anywhere by each deciding which traffic laws we should be following while expecting the endless sea of cars to follow all of them.

You have to change laws first, like the great statute in Iowa (Idaho), that was mentioned before, then do what the new law says. Alternately, you can break laws like many of us do each day and just take your medicine should it every come along and be administered.



Tony Adams said:
No. I don't insist on different treatment because we are better or morally superior citizens, but because we are engaged in better or morally superior behavior. There is a huge difference.

As Dan M notes it will be tough sell. But it is not a ground breaking concept. What is the HOV lane? A special lane on a freeway reserved for those who are engaging in the morally superior act of car-pooling or riding a motorcycle. Do some drivers stuck in the regular schlub lanes resent it when a car-pool whizzes by in the HOV lane? Sure. This is the same resentment that lots of drivers feel when a bike sails through a red light that Dan M also mentions.

What about tax incentives for green home improvements or motor vehicles? Or the contrary, excise taxes loaded upon cigarettes? All of these are versions of the same concept.

Duppie said:
So you demand different laws mainly on the fact that cyclists are somehow better, morally superior citizens? That's funny.
If you're out driving or biking tonight, here's some advance warning about yielding to pedestrians:

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/08/chicago-police-plan-even...

I'm sure this is mainly targeted to motorists, but the law says bikes should also yield to pedestrians at mid-block crosswalks.

Ethan, with Active Trans
Jason,
I agree completely that when we are responsible for the results of our decisions to break traffic laws. I might not have made it clear in my last post, but I only advocate running red lights and stops signs when no other road user(s) have a contrary right of way. If my light is red and there are vehicles approaching the intersection who have the green I stop and wait until they pass. I hugely err on the side of caution as sometimes it can be hard to judge the speed of an oncoming vehicle and we've all seen cars accelerate to make it through a green or yellow or recently yellow light.

I also agree that we need to change the laws. But in the meantime, when the laws of common sense contradict the laws of the land, I'll follow the former rather than the later.

Jason Ward said:
Tony,
Poorly enforced though they may be, we have our own HOV lanes called "bike lanes." They are special lanes that are reserved for us and our "morally superior behavior" and I'd say most of the time (about 98%), they are clear and unobstructed lanes just for us to use.
I break traffic laws here and there (a lot more than I should), but I certainly think that any dumb shit that happens because I'm doing that would be MY fault and if I got a ticket, I'd think to myself "nice move dumbass!" If we lived in a society where everyone got to decide if the moral value of their behavior required them to obey laws or not, we'd be in, oh wait, I guess we kind of are in that sort of world, and I know when I see some asshole in a car driving down the shoulder on the Kennedy in stopped traffic I don't assume it's because they are giving an underprivileged grandma a ride to the clinic, I think it's just because they are some kind of typical jerk who thinks they are more important than everyone else.

I ride about 6-ish days a week and drive my car about once a week for a consolidated grocery/errand running day and it's irritating as hell to sit in an endless line of cars because I'm used to whipping by them all day long and I'm instantly jealous of anyone I see on a bike while I'm stewing in traffic, so I can certainly empathize with drivers who find it a bit maddening to see bikers blasting through lights and stop signs. I think many of them should give it a try and maybe they'll find that it improves a lot of things in their daily lives, but I don't think we'll get anywhere by each deciding which traffic laws we should be following while expecting the endless sea of cars to follow all of them.

You have to change laws first, like the great statute in Iowa (Idaho), that was mentioned before, then do what the new law says. Alternately, you can break laws like many of us do each day and just take your medicine should it every come along and be administered.



Tony Adams said:
No. I don't insist on different treatment because we are better or morally superior citizens, but because we are engaged in better or morally superior behavior. There is a huge difference.

As Dan M notes it will be tough sell. But it is not a ground breaking concept. What is the HOV lane? A special lane on a freeway reserved for those who are engaging in the morally superior act of car-pooling or riding a motorcycle. Do some drivers stuck in the regular schlub lanes resent it when a car-pool whizzes by in the HOV lane? Sure. This is the same resentment that lots of drivers feel when a bike sails through a red light that Dan M also mentions. What about tax incentives for green home improvements or motor vehicles? Or the contrary, excise taxes loaded upon cigarettes? All of these are versions of the same concept.

Duppie said:
So you demand different laws mainly on the fact that cyclists are somehow better, morally superior citizens? That's funny.
What is the rationale behind alerting drivers to the exact intersection where they will be?

Active Transportation Alliance said:
If you're out driving or biking tonight, here's some advance warning about yielding to pedestrians:

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/08/chicago-police-plan-even...

I'm sure this is mainly targeted to motorists, but the law says bikes should also yield to pedestrians at mid-block crosswalks.

Ethan, with Active Trans
Well Heather,

Remember Howards Party last year and how everyone was all wasted by the time everyone left. This year it would come in handy to know what to avoid because I would rather try to make it home intact rather than end up getting a ticket or going to jail from riding and drinking.

heather stratton said:
What is the rationale behind alerting drivers to the exact intersection where they will be?
Active Transportation Alliance said:
If you're out driving or biking tonight, here's some advance warning about yielding to pedestrians:

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/08/chicago-police-plan-even... I'm sure this is mainly targeted to motorists, but the law says bikes should also yield to pedestrians at mid-block crosswalks.

Ethan, with Active Trans

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