Rogue bikers ignore Rules of the Road

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What part of “STOP” do bicyclists not undertand? A River North resident says they endanger pedestrians: “All I have to do is stand on Kinzie for five minutes in the morning and 20 bicyclists blow through stop signs.” | Mark Konkol

 

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Last summer, I dared to point out the obvious: Protected bike lanes are bunk.

They’re a giant waste of money that probably don’t protect anybody. Not bicyclists. Not drivers. Not pedestrians. And spending millions of dollars on those ugly white pylons certainly doesn’t protect taxpayers during tough financial times.

Of course, that really ticked off the bicycling crazies, who dismissed my opinion with high-minded logic: Don’t believe a lazy, ugly, fat and stupid guy who drives a Korean station wagon.

“Looks like he’d start sweating in 60 degrees,” some knucklehead wrote on a blog that nobody reads.

Another bike activist kept asking me to join him on a protected bike ride, hoping I might see the light. I declined. I’ve been riding unprotected on Chicago streets for years, thank you very much.

But the way rabid cyclists reacted did help me consider why they got so worked up over my point of view. They must be smarter, skinnier and just better people than guys like me. In fact, they are more evolved urban creatures. They don’t just ride their bikes to work. They are saving lives, reducing the carbon footprint and traffic congestion. They might even be curing cancer, ending hunger and homelessness one pedal at a time. As a superior race of Chicagoans, cyclists deserve the extra protection provided by plastic poles.

But just before I completely changed my tune on bike lanes, a levelheaded River North woman talked me out of it.

Rogue bicyclists emboldened by their special lanes have become a threat to pedestrian safety, she told me. They must be taught manners or, at the very least, the Rules of the Road, such as obeying traffic signals, sharing the street and — I’m paraphrasing here — don’t be a jerk.

“All I have to do is stand on Kinzie for five minutes in the morning and 20 bicyclists blow through stop signs. They’re all wearing ear buds listening to music. They’re in a zone, a bubble, and they don’t stop. It’s scary. I hate driving on that street. It’s scary,” the River North gal said on the condition that I keep her anonymous to avoid attacks from bicycle-riding anarchists.

Cyclists might not like hearing it, but she’s right. I’ve almost been run over by a woman on a vintage 10-speed and a klutzy fellow riding in flip-flops who apparently believes stop signs are optional for cyclists, particularly if they’re riding in a protected lane.

But don’t take our word for it, militant bicycle people of Chicago.

Here’s what Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) wrote to Chicago Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein: “I have received chronic residential reports that bicyclists frequently ignore posted stop signs, leading to several ‘near misses’ on a daily basis.”

Reilly “respectfully requested” that the city install signs that state: “Bicyclists MUST Stop at Intersection” signs next to stop signs on Kinzie. In a separate letter, the alderman asked that speed humps or other bicycle traffic-calming measures be added to what he called the “Kinzie Cycle Track.”

That seemed like an ironic request because Klein once told me that a goal of protected bike lanes is to slow down auto traffic in Chicago. His faithful bike-riding followers either didn’t get that part of his message or figured that goal doesn’t apply to pedal power.

Since Reilly sent those letters in March, the city has installed reminders on stop signs and painted “STOP” on the street as a reminder.

As a rule, Reilly said he was told, the city doesn’t put speed humps downtown. Instead, Chicago cops and transportation department “ambassadors” have conducted “educational” traffic stops. Officers read cyclists the riot act — and the Rules of the Road — for blowing through stop signs, and they hand out warnings.

More of those education days are scheduled for the next few weeks.

Reilly says bike lanes are a “nice amenity” geared at making streets safer, but it won’t work if cyclists don’t slow down, stop at stop signs and watch out for pedestrians.

And if warnings don’t work, the next step, Reilly said, will be ticketing law-breaking bicyclists for moving violations.

I still don’t think extra signs, written warnings, traffic tickets or anything you put in front of a guy going downhill on a bike will keep him from blowing a stop sign.

On Thursday, I stopped on Kinzie to snap a picture of the “stop for peds” sign. Just as I hit the button, a guy on a bike zoomed downhill through the stop sign and swerved to avoid a woman crossing the street while picking up speed — stop sign be damned.

There’s no point debating the need for these bike lanes, though I could argue the pylon-lined path linking Garfield Park to Douglas Park should include bulletproof vests, and there are no protected lanes where you really need them — Halsted Street, Elston Avenue and, of course, Milwaukee Avenue through Bucktown and Wicker Park, where hipsters on Huffys are constantly crashing into open car doors.

I won’t push it anymore.

But it is time for a cyclist culture change.

Go ahead, enjoy your fancy bike lines.

But obey the signs. Slow down. Watch out for pedestrians.

And try not to be a jerk while you share the road with chubby guys driving station wagons.

We are people, too.

Link:

http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/13894027-452/rogue-bikers-i...

(Please click frequently and give the Sun Times lots of hits, because they certainly deserve lots of hits for posting such wonderful bicycle-specific content, and don't forget to feed the comment section to assure that such wonderful informative inclusions continue to be a frequent feature of our daily news feed!)

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Howard you don't miss a trick.  Thanks for posting.

Gene, a hearty ATTA BOY!  Your comment nailed it.  Ya scored a perfect Tenner in this mental gymnastics event.

Drivers that break the rules don't justify cyclists that break the rules.

Fine, if there are no pedestrians or drivers approaching an intersection, then I think it's fine to treat a stop sign like a yield sign.  But refusing to yield at stop signs and blowing through red lights is just feeding this perceived "war" between cyclists and other road-users.

If we want drivers to treat cyclists with courtesy and respect, we need to treat them the same.  And if it takes the city passing out tickets for reckless cycling in order to change Chicago's cycling culture to be more courteous and safe, then that's what the city should do.

They forgot about those crazy kids riding on the sidewalk.

The recent bike hate going on is a bit illogical, it seems like it's mostly venting by non-cyclist who feel entitled. How many bike hit and runs have occurred this year? How many deaths/injuries can be attributed to cyclist v pedestrians? I believe those numbers are 0.

http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/04/05/was-cyclist-who-killed-pede...

You might want to readjust your figures.


spencewine said:

The recent bike hate going on is a bit illogical, it seems like it's mostly venting by non-cyclist who feel entitled. How many bike hit and runs have occurred this year? How many deaths/injuries can be attributed to cyclist v pedestrians? I believe those numbers are 0.

Wow- I totally love the Kinzie bike lane, I rode on it for the first time fairly recently. I was really relieved the stop signs were clearly marked, and I was really glad to see that driveways were less conducive to drivers creeping out into one's path while only checking one direction, for example. (or not checking at all, because they are holding their phone to their ear.) A couple of times I stopped and people in cars and pedestrians actually waved for me to go through ahead of them. 

Its always interesting when bicyclists become anarchists, rogues, hipsters, crazies, rabid, uncivilized, impolite, and a menace to society. So often I have heard that bikes don't belong on city streets, they belong a.) on a bike path or b.) on the sidewalk (no.). Now that bikes are given a clearly segregated path of their own, where cyclists can be seen and easily avoided, some new grievance. It seems like people just like to borrow trouble. They should go for a bike ride and relax. 

the fact that cars do not follow the rules is not a justification for bikes not following the rules.  I am not an advocate is following the rules to the letter but I am an advocate of riding politely when it comes to pedestrians and other road users.

The second he was called fat and picked on the argument on the previous article was lost.

A compilation of some videos showing pedestrian vs. cyclist collisions:

http://www.beezodogsplace.com/2012/07/21/pedestrian-versus-cyclist-...

spencewine said:

The recent bike hate going on is a bit illogical, it seems like it's mostly venting by non-cyclist who feel entitled. How many bike hit and runs have occurred this year? How many deaths/injuries can be attributed to cyclist v pedestrians? I believe those numbers are 0.

Yes, it happens, but fortunately it's quite rare.  I hope that education, peer pressure and enforcement will keep it rare to non-existent.

Many of us are aware of the SF ped fatality due to a cyclist who plowed through pedestrians in a crosswalk at high speed, although Spencewine's comment makes it apparent that not everyone has heard the news.


O said:

http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/04/05/was-cyclist-who-killed-pede...

You might want to readjust your figures.


spencewine said:

The recent bike hate going on is a bit illogical, it seems like it's mostly venting by non-cyclist who feel entitled. How many bike hit and runs have occurred this year? How many deaths/injuries can be attributed to cyclist v pedestrians? I believe those numbers are 0.

Last summer, I dared to point out the obvious: Protected automobile lanes are bunk.

They’re a giant waste of money that probably don’t protect anybody. Not motorists. Not cyclists. Not pedestrians. And spending millions of dollars on those ugly asphalt ribbons certainly doesn’t protect taxpayers during tough financial times.

Of course, that really ticked off the motoring crazies, who dismissed my opinion with high-minded logic: Don’t believe a lazy, ugly, fat and stupid guy who rides a Korean bicycle.

“Looks like he’d start sweating in 60 degrees,” some knucklehead wrote on a blog that nobody reads.

Another motoring activist kept asking me to join him on a protected drive, hoping I might see the light. I declined. I’ve been driving unprotected on Chicago streets for years, thank you very much.

But the way rabid motorists reacted did help me consider why they got so worked up over my point of view. They must be smarter, skinnier and just better people than guys like me. In fact, they are more evolved urban creatures. They don’t just drive their cars to work. They are saving lives, helping the oil companies' profits and traffic congestion. They might even be curing cancer, ending hunger and homelessness one gallon of gas at a time. As a superior race of Chicagoans, motorists deserve the extra protection provided by concrete walls.

But just before I completely changed my tune on car lanes, a levelheaded River North woman talked me out of it.

Rogue motorists emboldened by their special lanes have become a threat to pedestrian and cyclist safety, she told me. They must be taught manners or, at the very least, the Rules of the Road, such as obeying traffic signals, sharing the street and — I’m paraphrasing here — don’t be a jerk.

“All I have to do is stand on Kinzie for five minutes in the morning and 20 motorists blow through stop signs. They’re all talking the phone and listening to music. They’re in a zone, a cage, and they don’t stop. It’s scary. I hate cycling on that street. It’s scary,” the River North gal said on the condition that I keep her anonymous to avoid attacks from automobile-operating anarchists.

Motorists might not like hearing it, but she’s right. I’ve almost been run over by a woman on a vintage Corolla and a klutzy fellow driving in flip-flops who apparently believes stop signs are optional for motorists, particularly if they’re driving in a protected lane.

But don’t take our word for it, militant car people of Chicago.

Here’s what Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) wrote to Chicago Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein: “I have received chronic residential reports that motorists frequently ignore posted stop signs, leading to several ‘near misses’ on a daily basis.”

Reilly “respectfully requested” that the city install signs that state: “Motorists MUST Stop at Intersection” signs next to stop signs on Kinzie. In a separate letter, the alderman asked that speed humps or other motor vehicle traffic-calming measures be added to what he called the “Kinzie Motor Track.”

That seemed like an ironic request because Klein once told me that a goal of protected automobile lanes is to slow down bicycle traffic in Chicago. His faithful car-driving followers either didn’t get that part of his message or figured that goal doesn’t apply to oil power.

Since Reilly sent those letters in March, the city has installed reminders on stop signs and painted “STOP” on the street as a reminder.

As a rule, Reilly said he was told, the city doesn’t put speed humps downtown. Instead, Chicago cops and transportation department “ambassadors” have conducted “educational” traffic stops. Officers read motorists the riot act — and the Rules of the Road — for blowing through stop signs, and they hand out warnings.

More of those education days are scheduled for the next few weeks.

Reilly says automobile lanes are a “nice amenity” geared at making streets safer, but it won’t work if motorists don’t slow down, stop at stop signs and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

And if warnings don’t work, the next step, Reilly said, will be ticketing law-breaking motorists for moving violations.

I still don’t think extra signs, written warnings, traffic tickets or anything you put in front of a guy going downhill in a car will keep him from blowing a stop sign.

On Thursday, I stopped on Kinzie to snap a picture of the “stop for peds” sign. Just as I hit the button, a guy in a car zoomed downhill through the stop sign and swerved to avoid a woman crossing the street while picking up speed — stop sign be damned.

There’s no point debating the need for these car lanes, though I could argue the pylon-lined path linking Garfield Park to Douglas Park should include bulletproof vests, and there are no protected lanes where you really need them — Halsted Street, Elston Avenue and, of course, Milwaukee Avenue through Bucktown and Wicker Park, where motorists are constantly opening their doors into the paths of hipsters on Huffys.

I won’t push it anymore.

But it is time for a motorist culture change.

Go ahead, enjoy your fancy motor vehicle lanes.

But obey the signs. Slow down. Watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

And try not to be a jerk while you share the road with chubby guys riding cargo bikes.

We are people, too.

Spencewine was making the assertion that the cyclist versus pedestrian data would show 0 collisions. Obviously the rate of occurrence is higher than zero based on the cursory compilation of videos I was able to assemble in under 15 minutes.

There are additional analysis of crashes that have occurred in our area here:

http://www.dot.il.gov/trafficsafety/summaries.html

The data might not answer your specific questions regarding bikes vs. pedestrians but it will give you idea of how frequently collisions of various types occur and where.

I tried to deal with what I termed The Myth of Urban Cycling Difficulty (http://www.beezodogsplace.com/2012/07/20/a-bicycle-is-not-a-nose-ring/) by doing a bit of research on the percentage of fatalities in both the city limits and suburban areas. Some of the data there are from the tables listed in the DOT summaries. It turns out that suburban fatalities appear to be higher as a percentage per number of crashes.


h' said:

What is the point of offering this here? Nobody is saying that bikes and pedestrians don't collide.

How many of these were recent, local, and resulted in serious injury or death to the pedestrian?

Some additional statistical information (the motherlode for Illinois) can be found here:

http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/bike-ped/pedestrian-and-bicycle-safety

Scroll down for the pedestrian and bicycle crash maps. Fascinating stuff...

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