The Chainlink

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-perspec-0719-biking-2...

 

Crazed cyclists run rampant

Enforce existing bike laws to collect needed revenue

  • By John D. Thomas

My wife and I love Chicago, and we are always thinking about ways that might improve the city. Lately, we came up with an idea that would not only make where we live safer and less stressful but also could substantially fill our depleted municipal coffers. And, best of all, getting it done would merely require enforcing regulations that are already on the books.

What's our plan? Start fining the heck out of the city's insane number of crazed bike riders.

Now don't get me wrong: I do not hate on cyclists. Actually, quite the opposite.

In 1979, when I saw the amazing cycling-coming-of-age film "Breaking Away," I became a lifelong fan of the sport. The movie inspired me to pedal my bike across Florida and Iowa in group tours when I was in my early teens; when I was in college, I dabbled in both road- and mountain-bike racing. I also love to sit for hours watching long stages of theTour de France,which is currently taking place.

I have ridden a bike literally thousands and thousands of miles. That much time in the saddle taught me a lot about how to coexist and respect people driving in cars and to expect them to respect me as well.

All of which makes me very attuned to the driving patterns of Chicago cyclists. And I must say, for the most part they are simply awful. It would not be an exaggeration to say that on an average outing in our car to run a few errands, my wife and I see at least half a dozen egregious driving infractions by cyclists.

They range from blithely running through red lights and stop signs to passing on our right just as we are about to turn. And if we ever yell out a complaint about their poor understanding of the rules of the road, we almost always get that sickeningly smug grin that implies that pedal power trumps a gas guzzler every time, no matter what a bike rider does.

In my experience talking with Chicago bike riders, I get the sense that most believe that our traffic laws do not apply to them. Nothing could be less true and, in fact, the part of the Chicago Municipal Code related to riding bicycles is more than 4,000 words long.

This is my favorite portion of the code, and it is a rule that, if vigorously enforced, would give Chicago an enormous budget surplus:

"(c) Whenever authorized signs are erected indicating that no right or left turn or turn in the opposite direction is permitted, no person operating a bicycle shall disobey the direction of any such sign unless he dismounts from the bicycle to make the turn, in which event he shall then obey the regulations applicable to pedestrians."

"(d) Every person convicted of a violation of any provision of this chapter regulating bicycles shall be fined $25.00."

However, not only have I seen literally hundreds of people on bikes pay absolutely no attention to those kinds of road signs, I have also never seen a Chicago cop giving a cyclist a ticket. And, yes, I have been in many, many situations where I have seen police officers witness horrendous and dangerous bike riding and do nothing about it.

In my mind, all great cities embrace cyclists, and more Chicagoans are biking on our city streets all the time. And while bike lanes and more places to park and lock your bike are great advancements, if the people riding bikes don't do so with a sense of common sense and safety, then what will develop is a vicious car-versus-bike climate that will only end up creating chaos and accidents.

Chicago writer John D. Thomas is currently finishing a book on the cultural history of saliva.

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ZZzzzzZzzzzZzzz at this (edited for redundancy) dinosaur of a journal publishing the same thinly veiled anti-bike biased diatribes over and over again. Lulz.


Simple flow chart:

Bash bikers (make sure to use the disclaimer: I'm a like a total bicycle enthusiast d00d, I love the tour de France!) -> hits on their site from bike haters -> $ (kaching)

Has anybody ever read a editorial making similar points regarding the lawlessness of drivers and how law enforcement should crack down harder on them? Yeah, me neither:).

Given the outrage over speeding cameras and similar initiatives, I'd say a crackdown would be very unpopular.  I remember seeing a sign announcing a seat beat check a block or two before where the cops were checking for drivers/passengers without a seat belt on and fining them.  Kind of defeats the purpose but whatever.

MagMileMarauder said:

Has anybody ever read a editorial making similar points regarding the lawlessness of drivers and how law enforcement should crack down harder on them? Yeah, me neither:).

Well, it's said that opinions are like- er,rectums: everybody has 'em- and they all stink.

The Myth of the scofflaw cyclist.

This guy says he's a cyclist.  If he were a cyclist he'd be running those errands on his bicycle.  

My opinion is that the city needs to start giving out "Low Emissions Vehicle" license plates to vehicles that get something like 50MPH or more as a start.  And then begin using blackout dates and times in certain parts of the city where vehicles without said plates are not allowed.  

Then Start turning up the heat every year over the definition of LEV and expanding the blackout times/dates and spreading out the area.

Until that happens I'll just have say that gas isn't expensive enough if this guy and folks like him can simply jump into a car to run some short errands around the city.  

The city could also start ticketing morning and evening car commuters for failing to use turn signals and passing on the right and probably pay for road resurfacing.

And this guy is full of shit, the response for screaming at me when I'm in the right lane next to your car and you're turning without signaling or yielding to me is not a smug smile but a rigid, extended middle finger.

I'll need to read his saliva book since I'm still foaming at the mouth after reading this article.

No, wait. If he's as adept at that as he was at this piece...never mind...

 

A little research on the author:

 

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-07-14/news/ct-oped-0714-mug...

 

Book Description

April 16, 2010
The New York Times says the title of "Karaoke of Blood" is in the running for the best of 2011! Playboy says, "It’s a plot that would have Dan Brown’s head spinning." Karaoke of Blood is the story of an aging lounge singer living in Chicago who has a mysterious gift. That gift leads him to be involved in a scheme run by the Catholic church and the mob to raise money to pay for the church's sexual molestation lawsuits. As Tom Waits would say, a lot of girls, a lot of action. The author is the former editor of Playboy.com and contributing editor at Playboy magazine. He has also been a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Playboy magazine, Chicago Tribune and The Village Voice and is an adjunct profesor in the English Department at Columbia College in Chicago.
 

 

http://www.colum.edu/Academics/English_Department/Faculty/Faculty_P...

 

BTW the Kindle book is selling for $1.00...

Funny, if we were to "vigorously enforce" Municipal code 9-24-010 against motorist the city would be paved with gold streets:

Bookmark9-24-010  Stop signs.

    

     (b)     When stop signs are erected as herein provided, every operator of a vehicle shall stop the vehicle at the sign or at a clearly marked stop line before entering the nearest crosswalk, if any, or the intersection, except when directed to proceed by a police officer or traffic control aide.

     (c)     Any person violating this section shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $300.00 for the first offense, not less than $500.00 nor more than $700 for the second offense and $1,000.00 for a third or any subsequent offense, and may also be required to perform reasonable community service.

I'm no economist, but I think targeting bicyclist would be what is called "a waste of tax dollars."

In 1979, when I saw the amazing cycling-coming-of-age film "Breaking Away," I became a lifelong fan of the sport. The movie inspired me to pedal my bike across Florida and Iowa in group tours when I was in my early teens; when I was in college, I dabbled in both road- and mountain-bike racing. I also love to sit for hours watching long stages of theTour de France,which is currently taking place.

 

That paragraph speaks volumes. He's viewing riding a bicycle as a sport, not as transportation. His experience on a bike seems to be from decades ago, on long-distance group rides and mountain bike racing. He talks about running errands with his wife in his car more recently, and never mentions riding a bicycle in the city at all. I'd like to invite him and his wife to turn off the Tour de France coverage and ride their bikes around their city neighborhood, to go shopping or out to dinner, and then ask him about his impressions and opinions again.

Ghostery does wonders for my blood pressure by blocking the comments section from appearing.

Yeah for Ghostery!

+1 for the scofflaw link.  Anyone who pulls up in their gigantic SUV and gets six inches away to complain about my rolling through a stop sign is missing the point. 

James BlackHeron said:

The Myth of the scofflaw cyclist.

This guy says he's a cyclist.  If he were a cyclist he'd be running those errands on his bicycle.  

My opinion is that the city needs to start giving out "Low Emissions Vehicle" license plates to vehicles that get something like 50MPH or more as a start.  And then begin using blackout dates and times in certain parts of the city where vehicles without said plates are not allowed.  

Then Start turning up the heat every year over the definition of LEV and expanding the blackout times/dates and spreading out the area.

Until that happens I'll just have say that gas isn't expensive enough if this guy and folks like him can simply jump into a car to run some short errands around the city.  

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