The Chainlink

http://www.suntimes.com/news/marin/27635186-452/could-rahm-lose-rac...

The thing is that Bike Lane's aren't the problem, but they are an obvious change upon which the drivers can blame their problems.   But if someone beats Rahm, they will, no doubt, give a great deal of credence to the Anti-Bike forces.   I am afraid that the mis-advocating of the ATA is coming back to roost.  We need that political capital that they threw away on that horrible Ashland Abomination, the Berteau "No Way", and a number of other badly thought out projects at the expense of real and useful projects.   Oh, and Critical Mass, I am looking at you too.   Once a month you deliver the message that Bicyclists think that they are better than the rest and don't have to follow any of the social conventions.    And that enters into the mix on these comments as well.  

Here's what we all need to do.   Dress and act respectfully (i.e. no naked bike ride, no bright flowery helmets with shirts that say "can you see me now asshole"), follow the primary traffic rules (right way on streets, stop at lights) and try to make people realize that we are part of the solution.  For if we don't, we are an election away from getting swatted hard.

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Yea that once a month thing is really obnoxious when people have to wait an extra 15min. Way more obnoxious that double parking….all the time or blocking the lanes (especially at Damen/Elston/Fullerton) trying to cross when you know damn well you couldn't make it. Or what about those privileged people who take the shoulder on the expressways. You know what really lengthens commutes? More cars. Please provide me the acceptable uniform that I should wear or at least a place where I can get those. If Rham looses, it will be for many other reasons this will not be a major one. 

As far as I'm concerned, Emanuel's transportation policies and priorities have been among his better initiatives.

No doubt.   But the problem is that, if this article is true, a "bicycle backlash" could swing the election.   As I noted in reply to another poster, like it or not, Bicyclists are NOT the majority users of the road.  Not even close.  And large parts of the "majority users" view Bicycles as something to be used by Children, poor vagrants hanging on the edge, and on the weekend, the very wealthy.  If Rahm goes down, and if it can be credited in any way to the backlash, all bicycle related programs in the City will come to a crashing halt and many of the current bikelanes (at least the obvious ones) will be gone.



Anne Alt said:

As far as I'm concerned, Emanuel's transportation policies and priorities have been among his better initiatives.

This is the exact kind of attitude that is going to cost the cycling community dearly.  I have been commuting on and off with a bicycle since 1981.    But I also recognize the basic fact.   The vast majority of adults do NOT use Bicycles (except perhaps for some recreation on the weekend) and view the "proper" users of bicycles as children, broke college students, societal failures, and "weird people".  Is this a fair characterization?  No.   But the only way to fight this is to avoid feeding these stereotypes.    Critical Mass is a perfect example of a "reinforcement" of this stereotype.   The Naked Bike Ride even further limits the view of "cyclists" to the public by limiting it to weird people.  

How do we fight this?    We try to emphasize that cycling is not the domain of the "weird" or the "strange".  If this means "pulling in" some of the more outrageous acts, so be it.   In other words, a portion of the cycling population should "grow up" and "act like adults".

As for an acceptable uniform, its obvious to anyone but a total twit.   It simply means normal bike helmets and shirts that don't call everyone else names or are laden with profanity.   Calling the car driver an "asshole" before they have done anything simply hurts.



Davo said:

Yea that once a month thing is really obnoxious when people have to wait an extra 15min. Way more obnoxious that double parking….all the time or blocking the lanes (especially at Damen/Elston/Fullerton) trying to cross when you know damn well you couldn't make it. Or what about those privileged people who take the shoulder on the expressways. You know what really lengthens commutes? More cars. Please provide me the acceptable uniform that I should wear or at least a place where I can get those. If Rham looses, it will be for many other reasons this will not be a major one. 

I think thats a little fire and brimstoney. Almost like an anti-Kass version of the world. Not Anti-Kass as just against Kass more like BizzaroKass. Its a bunch of sensationalism geared towards getting responses and "views" on their page.

Where is your commute!?! If this is your norm then I definitely need to take a ride just to see all the helmets with fake mohawks or peacock feathers and shirts that say "you in the car, you're a jerk!"

Honestly, most bikers I see during my commute are just trying to make it to work. Same with drivers and people staring out the windows of their buses. What drives me nuts is people that see a biker do something and then say look another asshole biker. No that PERSON is an asshole and would be an asshole whether they were on foot, bike, car, horseback, airplane, magic carpet, or sailing the seven seas. Many drivers hold bikers to standards that they can't even hold themselves to. Please don't single us out in a similar fashion. 

Crazy David 84 Furlongs said:

As for an acceptable uniform, its obvious to anyone but a total twit.   It simply means normal bike helmets and shirts that don't call everyone else names or are laden with profanity.   Calling the car driver an "asshole" before they have done anything simply hurts.

I think the Mayor's bicycling policies are the least of his problems. Like Anne, I think his cycling policies are one of the few redeeming things about his administration. If I were a city dweller, I cannot tell you whether that would be sufficient for me to support him. Support for cycling initiatives does not seem like it will be a crucial issue in an election. There are other much bigger and divisive issues such as oh, say...schools. 

So, setting aside whether it will matter in an election perhaps we can rephrase the original question. Is bicycle culture a divisive thing that pisses off other citizens? If so, should we care? Can we even define bicycle culture when all types  of bikes, all types or riders, all types of needs have equal claim to say, "Hey, I am what urban biking is all about"  It doesn't matter what we wear or whether we wear anything. How we ride is the only way we can act in unison cutting across all the other subcultures in our community. Whether we follow the letter of the rules of the road,  we need to ride with a consciousness that we are not the only person out there.  Are we riding so everybody can get home safely? If we do we will ingratiate ourselves with the rest of the community. If we ride like we own the road we are no different from an asshole in a BMW but with a somewhat less dangerous machine. If we ride like we care, we will matter no matter who we are or what we look like.

If I were a city dweller, I cannot tell you whether that would be sufficient for me to support him. Support for cycling initiatives does not seem like it will be a crucial issue in an election. There are other much bigger and divisive issues such as oh, say...schools. 

If it were only about cycling, there probably wouldn't be enough reasons for me to consider voting for him. CTA - that adds a little more in his favor. Schools and the pension mess - big negative for me.

Are we riding so everybody can get home safely? If we do we will ingratiate ourselves with the rest of the community. If we ride like we own the road we are no different from an asshole in a BMW but with a somewhat less dangerous machine. If we ride like we care, we will matter no matter who we are or what we look like.

Well said!  I think this matters more than anything.

Soo this may be hyperbole but this is what I get from this

Asshole car drivers -> Better roads for cars

Asshole cyclists - > worse roads for cyclists.

I have only been commuting since 2004 but I feel that I have "grown up" as a cyclist. I used to be a rage filled commuter yelling at any vehicular traffic that I felt was too close to me to now riding a bike as if it was not a race during my commute and not being as angry. In my personal experience I have noticed that more and more cyclists are following more and more the rules of the road. I would even say that I follow those rules more because more people do so. Now things like Critical Mass and Naked Bike Ride are fun rides that I like to do. IMHO I don't think they do anything to hurt the community, but also probably don't do much to help it either. If anything I have heard about more people start to ride bikes because of these types of rides than people who are discouraged from it.



Crazy David 84 Furlongs said:

This is the exact kind of attitude that is going to cost the cycling community dearly.  I have been commuting on and off with a bicycle since 1981.    But I also recognize the basic fact.   The vast majority of adults do NOT use Bicycles (except perhaps for some recreation on the weekend) and view the "proper" users of bicycles as children, broke college students, societal failures, and "weird people".  Is this a fair characterization?  No.   But the only way to fight this is to avoid feeding these stereotypes.    Critical Mass is a perfect example of a "reinforcement" of this stereotype.   The Naked Bike Ride even further limits the view of "cyclists" to the public by limiting it to weird people.  

How do we fight this?    We try to emphasize that cycling is not the domain of the "weird" or the "strange".  If this means "pulling in" some of the more outrageous acts, so be it.   In other words, a portion of the cycling population should "grow up" and "act like adults".

As for an acceptable uniform, its obvious to anyone but a total twit.   It simply means normal bike helmets and shirts that don't call everyone else names or are laden with profanity.   Calling the car driver an "asshole" before they have done anything simply hurts.



Davo said:

Yea that once a month thing is really obnoxious when people have to wait an extra 15min. Way more obnoxious that double parking….all the time or blocking the lanes (especially at Damen/Elston/Fullerton) trying to cross when you know damn well you couldn't make it. Or what about those privileged people who take the shoulder on the expressways. You know what really lengthens commutes? More cars. Please provide me the acceptable uniform that I should wear or at least a place where I can get those. If Rham looses, it will be for many other reasons this will not be a major one. 

Emmanuel has been a big benefactor to cycling but that largesse may represent a big threat, too. If cycling is identified with Emmanuel - and, right now, it is - and it becomes a factor in his defeat in the upcoming election, what will the impact on cycling be? Does it matter?
The reality is that sooner or later, if cycling doesn't cross over to the mainstream community, there will be a backlash against the current level of infrastructure expenditures and traffic disruption (both motor vehicle and pedestrian) that it has cost/caused. There certainly won’t be more money or political support. The increased support cycling has enjoyed simply isn't sustainable so long as it remains a fringe activity, especially when existing users are so heavily identified with the estranged.
Bicycling infrastructure is essential if cycling is to be a viable option yet that infrastructure must be widely utilized if society is going to continue to pour money into it. So what can the cycling community do to help cycling establish itself and expand its utilization factor?
There are two fronts to address:
1. Promote the positives. Cycling can be a viable mode of travel, one that presents a wide range of benefits including cost, health, congestion, economic development, etc. We’ve done a reasonably good job of that.
2. Suppress the negatives. Cycling has high negatives in the community and we need to start addressing them before they become our Achilles heel. You can argue the pro’s and con’s of Idaho stops until you’re blue in the face but lack of respect for traffic laws hurt the public view of cycling. You can argue that Critical Mass rides are fun and not a significant inconvenience but they hurt the public view of cycling. Likewise, lycranauts schuss-bombing the LFP hurt the public view of cycling. Hell, arguments about mandating helmets hurt the public view of cycling. It is in our interest, as a community that has been receiving funding and support far in excess of our due from the community, to begin the process of policing ourselves. The process needs to start right here, on thechainlink. We have not done a very good job of that.
The challenge the cycling community faces is to begin conforming to the standards of the mainstream or lose the support/tolerance of the larger community. Acting out is an effective tool for getting attention but we’ve done that. Now, it’s imperative to demonstrate that we can behave and offer a net benefit to the community or that public attention will become our worst enemy.

DO Critical Mass rides hurt the publics view of cycling? Honest Question. Honestly? I think if we asked the public their opinion on Critical Mass... most would say "what's that?" and those that knew might say "Oh is that that thing I waited for once? That looked bizarre." - that's hardly "negative." 

I've only been on one, mind you, but the one I went on was supported by police who were blocking a lot of intersections, was mostly organized and polite, contained families and children, and only a few fringe weirdos were angry/riding like asses. There was a lot of bell ringing and cheering, and people were coming out of their houses, leaning out their windows, and rolling down their car windows to shout hello. There were copious high fives and everyone was shouting "Happy Friday!"  Whole families were greeting us in the streets. We rode to the food bank and paused there to donate. Honestly? It felt like a pretty fantastic way to MEET the community and be involved with it. 

Were there a few laying on their horns? Sure, but they were few and far between compared to the people who were amused/asked who we were/thought it looked fun. I seriously rode with the cops and chatted a little with them, and they said they don't mind us at all. 

I think Mass in Chicago used to be something very rebellious, judging from my research. But now? I think Mass is mostly an accepted monthly ride with hundreds of participants. 

Also I have a question about this: "lycranauts schuss-bombing the LFP hurt the public view of cycling."  -- may I ask, where, exactly, are people who would like to train supposed to go to ride? I'm not saying I think the LFP is the place, but it just seems like a) lycra gets some sort of really weird bad rap that doesn't make any logical sense whatsoever (I don't wear much of it, I prefer cheap old navy yoga clothes, but hey I can't argue that having pockets on your back isn't convenient) and b) there is literally no where that a serious cyclist can go ride full out that they won't get sh*t for it. So I wonder about that often when I hear that argument. 


Reboot Oxnard said:

Emmanuel has been a big benefactor to cycling but that largesse may represent a big threat, too. If cycling is identified with Emmanuel - and, right now, it is - and it becomes a factor in his defeat in the upcoming election, what will the impact on cycling be? Does it matter?
The reality is that sooner or later, if cycling doesn't cross over to the mainstream community, there will be a backlash against the current level of infrastructure expenditures and traffic disruption (both motor vehicle and pedestrian) that it has cost/caused. There certainly won’t be more money or political support. The increased support cycling has enjoyed simply isn't sustainable so long as it remains a fringe activity, especially when existing users are so heavily identified with the estranged.
Bicycling infrastructure is essential if cycling is to be a viable option yet that infrastructure must be widely utilized if society is going to continue to pour money into it. So what can the cycling community do to help cycling establish itself and expand its utilization factor?
There are two fronts to address:
1. Promote the positives. Cycling can be a viable mode of travel, one that presents a wide range of benefits including cost, health, congestion, economic development, etc. We’ve done a reasonably good job of that.
2. Suppress the negatives. Cycling has high negatives in the community and we need to start addressing them before they become our Achilles heel. You can argue the pro’s and con’s of Idaho stops until you’re blue in the face but lack of respect for traffic laws hurt the public view of cycling. You can argue that Critical Mass rides are fun and not a significant inconvenience but they hurt the public view of cycling. Likewise, lycranauts schuss-bombing the LFP hurt the public view of cycling. Hell, arguments about mandating helmets hurt the public view of cycling. It is in our interest, as a community that has been receiving funding and support far in excess of our due from the community, to begin the process of policing ourselves. The process needs to start right here, on thechainlink. We have not done a very good job of that.
The challenge the cycling community faces is to begin conforming to the standards of the mainstream or lose the support/tolerance of the larger community. Acting out is an effective tool for getting attention but we’ve done that. Now, it’s imperative to demonstrate that we can behave and offer a net benefit to the community or that public attention will become our worst enemy.

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