The Chainlink

You blew the red light east bound on Lawrence at Damen at 5:26 pm this evening.


There was enough time for the biker in front of me to make it half way into the intersection, northbound on Damen, before you came whizzing past my front wheel.


I yelled "You're an idiot!" at your big haired chick, self, and you looked back at me. I meant it!


I woulda testified for any of the cars, that managed to not kill you, if they had.


Keep riding like a tard!




Witness bad behavior during your commute? Feel free to post. Maybe that lovely human can read it and think they are famous. Maybe you can also inspire the whole generation of kids to shower but we can start with small things.

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How many deaths annually are caused by passenger rail (subway, metro, commuter, inter-city, and long-distance)? How is the war on autos faring?

Guy on bike going the wrong way on the Jackson Blvd bike lane...

Me: "Wrong way, pal."

Him: (unintelligible)

A couple blocks later he has chased me down(!)

Him: "There's no bike lane going the other way."

Me: "It's a one-way street."

Him: "How am I supposed to get around?"

Me: "Find another street. Like cars do."

Him: (turns around, back to the wrong way)

Me: continues to train station, SMH.

Re: Wrong way on one-ways. They're only the wrong way until someone gets around to painting the bike-path in the opposite direction. See, e.g., Wood St. near Milwaukee, Berteau, etc.

How about this: When there is as much money poured into bike infrastructure as there is for cars, then bikes can obey all the rules of the road. This applies to one-ways, stop signs, red lights, etc., etc.

Just to get started with a response:

David, that graph shows remarkable improvement in deaths per motor vehicle mile.  

That is certainly one story to read from this data. Here is another. Let's assume an average of 30,000 deaths per year in the US going back to 1919. Let's use 1919 just to make it an even 100 years of data. Then the total deaths by auto in the last 100 years is going to be 30k x 100 = 3,000,000. Three million. To put this number in perspective, according to this article, although it is certainly hard to pin down, the total number of US soldiers dying in all wars since the founding of the US is somewhere between 600k and over 1 million. Of course, this number does not represent civilian casualties. So, only in the past 100 years, this technology has managed to kill roughly three times more Americans than all the US soldiers in all wars in US history.

This is just deaths. And this does not include premature death caused by lack of exercise, exposure to exhaust, etc. Additionally, millions of Americans every year experience life-altering injuries due to being involved in some way with auto accidents. These are not only incredibly traumatic events but also are the cause of long-lasting disabilities, both mental and physical.

Jane Jacobs: "Not TV or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of American communities.”

Per Wikipedia (motor vehicle fatalities in the US by year), pedestrian deaths are included in annual fatalities and make up 16% of all traffic deaths in 2017. Takeaway: At city speeds, motor vehicles are extremely dangerous.

KG: There's no question that travel is itself dangerous...

Travel itself is quite safe, especially when done over short distances. If you were to walk up and down your street once a day for your entire life, you should not expect to be killed. An issue regarding the supposed "need" to travel is a) why is it necessary? and 2) materialism, consumerism, and capitalism driving excess transportation of goods (above what is necessary or useful). Getting onto distance traveled, this is a real and present danger facing sustainability, namely Hypermobility. Is it better to travel further, even if it is theoretically possible? What happens to supposed "local community" no one is around that often to get to know each other?

KG: ..., and we see large numbers like 37,000 MV deaths. Speaking of large numbers, years past the invention of the bike, we now measure car deaths per billion miles. The stats have gone to that because against the old measure, we are declining to near 1 death per 100million miles for motor vehicles.  For context, that's about 1 death per twice the distance to the moon and back.  Still too many but that distance on a horse or the time it would take on a bike with the relative decline in human productivity, where the productivity while traveling declines to almost zero, would be as staggering as the 37,000 mv deaths.  That's why people try to accelerate travel time in the first place by choosing a bike or horse over walking, which is why people get into jet planes for instance.

Why travel further? My argument: It is not that people want to travel further, but that capitalism and profit-motive make it desirable to do so more frequently. Cars are fun! Cars are exciting and great! It is the easiest way to get sh** done! All well and good. Maybe it is the only because it has been "pushed down the gullet" of western society, in the sense that year after year it is marketed to the hilt as the consumer's favorite option. "It's too hard to walk to the deli market on the way home from work and interact with the friendly meat choppers" is not a good enough reason to avoid having a deli, work, home, friendly people, and an inviting atmosphere all within walking distance for the majority of city-dwellers.

KG: Bottom line: Per mile, at city speeds cars are extremely safe.  Per mile, cycling next to one is relatively more dangerous. 

The Wikipedia article on motor vehicle fatalities from above also nicely points out that the fatalities per year caused by motor vehicles does not include deaths attributable to transportation by pollution nor energy production for the use of transportation. Animals are also significantly affected with "tens of millions of deaths". Let's also remember the destruction caused by roads and highways tearing communities apart: Those interested in social justice will be quick to point out that major roads and highways affecting those of lower income level disproportionately. Where is your house? Is it with 100-yards of a busy highway? Do you know anyone whose front doors and windows open to deafening four-lane inner city traffic nearly 24 hours every days, 365 days per year? Sure, people live there by choice. It's cheap. And there's noise cancelling headphones. And maybe it's only for a few months until a better place is available. What are the deaths attributable to the noise of autos (and sure, throw in there jets as well)?

Bottom line: Cars are a masochistic fascination prodded on unsuspecting thrill-seekers by profit-seeking corporations. EVs are big oil's response to a threat to automobility, namely, to push a quasi-solution that they bet will never fully take off. In the meantime, more autos (and bigger ones) means more money.

Idaho stops: Auto drivers must yield to bicyclists until the day that auto drivers have to somehow expend bicycle-equivalent energy to get across the intersection. But really, bicyclists ought to demand more road space on a regular basis. Why do autos get to arrive anywhere 50% sooner than bikers? Let autos trail behind bicyclists at 5mph. Take the kids (anyone who's passed the training wheel test) down the center line! Strap a set of tail lights on stuck in emergency mode and above these plaster an giant red triangle warning sign: Caution! Do not pass! Why do autos feel the need to pass fifty feet before a red light? Institute a no-pass must-follow rule: Within 50 feet of a red light autos must not pass bicyclists.

Bicyclists with golf clubs given free pass to club autos within golf-range distance. New clubs come onto the market. Golfers have to deal with determining which set of clubs is for leisure and which is for pleasure. Pretty soon golf carts are replaced by golf bikes. Auto traffic is diverted to roadways where "No bicyclists allowed" signs dot every crossroad. After a while autos only travel in encapsulated highways, tombs filled with exhaust. No adenaline while driving within city limits!

How about: If the bicyclist has slowed down some rough percentage, say 10%, all other traffic must yield when the bicyclist enters the intersection.

When the driver gets upset about Idaho stops, it is simply because they did not see your hands on the brakes.

Really, bicyclists simply are attempting to stay with traffic on small streets. That means sometimes getting ahead and sometimes falling behind. Always attempting to stay right behind one car. When others try to pass from behind, on narrow streets, at least, it is uncomfortable for all. So staying up with traffic means going faster of speed bumps, drifting through intersections (just like autos do), and ultimately not falling behind. Which is what every member of the road expects, not to be continually pushed aside and not be given a right of way.

New feet rule: If there are bikes on the road, autos must not come within 25 feet, as bicyclists do not have expectation of exhaust air filter like autos have. Hence need to give them space.

New speed limit rule until bikes and autos are fully segregated: Every other hour, speed limits on all non-highway lanes will be reduced to 5mph and no bicyclist shall be passed. Furthermore, autos must drive with no music and all windows down so as to be able to communicate effectively with bicyclists.

Moreover, no bicyclist may be passed on any one-way street, nor may the bicyclist be encourage to move aside and let traffic go through.

Furthermore, autos shall yield to any bicyclist approaching a four-way stop sign intersection when said bicyclist is within 25 feet of the intersection or 10 seconds at the bicyclist's prevailing speed.

There is definitely a disconnect. Many around the world now see climate change as the foremost issue facing humanity. Do you see it in this way? From politicians, researchers, private citizens are calls for 100% renewable energy driven solutions, as well as moves to 100% sustainable development within the next 10-30 years. What does this imply? Hollow meetings are held and agreements made that are broken. Even when they are spelled out, major interests continue to skirt them, making counter-calls for "more efficiency over the long-term". What is the disconnect? Major industry interests call for "50%", "25%", "15%" improvement in their respective industries. This is something that is generally referred to as a business-as-usual outlook (BAU).

KG: ...enabling hypermobiity is a very good thing.

Here ( is some more background on hypermobility. The author of the document, John Adams, is thought to have coined the term hypermobility (in regard to transportation) around the late 90s. The definition of hypermobility, in his words, is the following: "Hypermobility: too much of a good thing. Mobility is liberating and empowering. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing. The growth in the numbers exercising their freedom and power is fouling the planet and jamming its arteries." Further on in the document is a nice summary of the social consequences of hypermobility, including: More urban sprawl, more polarization between rich and poor, more anonymous and less convivial (less people know their neighbors), less child-friendly, less culturally distinctive, more dangerous for people not in cars, fatter and less fit, more crime ridden, subject to a more Orwellian style of policing, less trusting, less democratic.

KG: Most bikes in the US are made halfway around the world, so while I appreciate your thoughts David, we have very different knowledge base at the outset about the value of limiting mobility. People have places to go and things to do, and enabling hypermobiity is a very good thing. Helping people in Chicago, DC, and Philadelphia all in the same day is a good thing. Ignaz Schwinn moving from Germany to Chicago and building up the company which built my first bike was likewise a good thing. This company, and an economic renaissance the 50s -70s drove a massive expansion of cycling in the US.

To begin with, an opinion, shared by many, is that oil consumption needs to be reduced significantly within the near future. Let's envision this world: Container shipping is primarily run on oil. What does significant reduction within the next 10-30 years look like? What would it look like today? Well, to begin with, bikes shipped all over the world would immediately come to an end. Again, many people in the world see climate change as the foremost issue facing humanity.

Regarding moving production around to various countries (you mention Schwinn), one foremost reason for doing this is, in many cases, exploitation of labor. Some equate capitalism with a worse form of slavery, in that in global capitalism, one set of workers (slaves) may be simply fired (discarded) and others picked up more quickly and easily and with less consequences than in the older form of slavery. Nation states ought to be aiding each other in moving technology around. If there is great technology in Germany, then bring it to Chicago, and save dumping the billions of pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere that transporting made products to the US causes. Let's remember that everyone's goal (in light of climate change, if you feel this is an issue worthy of repair) ought to be: Reduce CO2 emissions immediately, not get something a bit cheaper for today.

KG: While some wish for a smaller world and limited mobility which I doubt will come to pass, significant improvements in safety are viable, and don't require a dislike of people, cars and economics. Roads, cars and jets all bring people together for a better world. So do bicycles manufactured on an industrial scale.

I doubt electric cars, in their current form factor, will come to pass. Oil-friendly interests want oil on the market for a long time to come. If EVs do come to pass, they will require small scale implementation, not the massive two-ton versions currently in demand. Sustainable transit would only appear to include EVs of the mini-EV variety, on the scale of let's say e-bikes and "fortwos". Global capitalism is driving the desire for climate harming technology such as large-scale roads, cars, and jets. What would no-oil look like today? It is doubtful people would care too much about going long distance to "bring people together". Why cause climate change to bring people together, when instead you can get to know your next door neighbor for zero climate change cost? After all, cities (not nation-states) are the mixing pot of society.

KG: Meanwhile, mixing transit modes in the same space is what adds substantial risk. Horses on an airport runway are a bad idea, and avoiding that kind of thinking with cycling is key. While a "walk down the street" sort of example is interesting, few people on the planet will ever have their deli, school, church, clinic, grocery store, park, hiking trail, lake, cabin, art gallery, coffee shop, furniture store, movie theater, community center, bike shop, bauxite mine, clinic, hardware store, windmill, water supply, French restaurant, recycling center, and Italian restaurant all on the same street. So we can solve for safer and efficient transportation or start eliminating those things from people's lives.

For most of humanity's existence, having everything within walking distance was pretty much a required part of life. Saying humanity cannot do what it has done for all of its existence seems quite nonsensical.

KG: Curtailing automobile speed beyond the engineered roadway rate solves a third of the MVA deaths per billion miles. Alcohol is roughly another third. Alcohol on the part of cyclists ourselves drives about a fourth of cycling deaths, likewise intoxicated pedestrians comprise roughly a third of pedestrians in pedestrian deaths. Getting bullet trains to go faster doesn't necessarily make them riskier. Speed on a bike above about 20 usually does however. We can hope people just want to walk up and down their street (not gonna happen) or we can come together on safer, faster transit, and we have many non-car-hating and non-capitlaism-hating opportunities to do so, and that will help make cycling safer for all of us.

Making things a bit safer is not going to put an end to climate change nor to cycling deaths. No doubt cars are the main drivers of cycling deaths. Cars have torn apart communities for 100 years. Car and oil companies have monopolistically torn apart mass transit systems to this end.

Nation-states' non-transfer of technology is helping to drive climate change, alongside capitalism's exploitation of workers. Saying goodbye to oil tomorrow means finding ways to get sh** done. Walking and cycling have a big role to play in this. Maybe people require some way to come together to solve these issues, something that capitalism and nation-states do not offer?

In any case, we can move motor vehicle deaths to zero tomorrow by banning motor vehicles. If long-distance travel is required, mass transit systems exist for the express purpose of safely moving people about. Why settle year after year for 30,000 of your fellow Americans dying in explosions of glass and metal, white blankets strewn across crosswalks covering the dead? I argue that joyriding is really the main draw of automobility. Is joyriding really so important to the health of modern society? Or is it instead that joyriding is a marketing ploy to look cool and feel great. Like cigarettes! So let's be sure to advertise them to children, especially in the form of Disney flicks! As such, this comes at the expense of 30,000 people every year in the US (and untold millions of injured annually as well), not to mention climate change, nor the million of drivers in America who see automobiles as their only option, and are thus stuck in non-healthy lifestyle driving situations (i.e., fatter and less fit).


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