The Chainlink

Now that I have been riding many miles from Lincolnshire to the South Loop, all up and down the Lake Shore Bike Path, and recently, in the Loop - I question the observable etiquette among pedestrians, drivers, and the fellow cyclist.

Recently, I've frequented the Dearborn bike lanes... they're ok. Some deep manhole covers, puddles adjacent to the curve, drivers blocking intersections when their aloof notion kicks in and ignore the fact that the yellow light immediately leads to the red STOP light, which means, STOP, blocking intersections and the bike lanes. 

Anyway, I've recently observed lack of etiquette from some cyclists... let me explain some of my observations (and I hope they read this).

In no particular order...

A couple of days ago I was crossing with the green light, Dearborn and Monroe - guy cyclist with headphones decided to stop ON the bike lanes. I was coming in fast and a pedestrian looked at him and me and the conflict that could have occurred. The guy was so clueless - I immediately went in front of him so he'd know he was blocking the lanes. I just kept riding home.

Maybe he was thinking about the delicious dinner he was going to devour later… Or pensive and in peace listening to Yanni's Greatest Hits. 

Yesterday this happened at the same exact intersection. I got the red light and I stopped along with two other cyclists (one was on the phone with his ear and shoulder holding the phone conversation together - I don't get that!). Anyway, what happened was that a female rider decided to carefully weave through traffic and into the crossing pedestrians. She almost hit a man that was just walking west on his right of way in the crossing. 

She looked fit/toned on her fixie. Denim shorts, muscular calves, tanktop, army style backpack - and yes, a helmet. 

My assumption is that she either didn’t care because she looked like a “pro,” or because she had the diarrhea and needed to find a bathroom… I eventually lost sight of her down the path.

Makes me think. She could have waited just those few seconds to cross safely. Bicyclists either follow the rules or they don't. Did she have etiquette. No.

Back in April, I got rear ended by a woman on a Divvy bike at the bicycle stop light. I felt the jolt, saddle hitting my left buttcheek - I quickly turned around (going north on Dearborn - intersection with Wacker) and she immediately said: I thought you were going to run the red light! I was just following!

I said: I don’t run red lights because I don’t want to get hit by a car!

She said in a shy voice: ok… sorry.

Etiquette is key during the busy day here in Chicago - use it. Can save your life and make one look less as a jerk, and as a respectable cyclist that attempts to follow the rules. I sometimes brake those rules if its late at night and the next car or pedestrian are blocks away. 

I have a reputation to keep because of a certain product and website that are bicycle related - and I don't and can't tarnish that by allowing idiocy and an accident that could have been prevented haunt me.

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I'll share my two cents here as I commute downtown on a daily basis:

  • There's a little known fact to some of us regarding human nature. We all make mistakes. Remember that one time you were distracted? Maybe happens once a year since you are such a perfect human being. However, when you give every single cyclist in the area a pass for one oversight once a year, you get a few oversights (on aggregate) here and there on a daily basis. A lot of industries take this into account when looking into performance forecasts unless we are dealing with automated robots.
  • Since we are not dealing with automated robots, it might be worth considering that calling people idiots usually does not resolve a problem. If anything, it creates more friction. I've found that people are not usually idiots. More likely some are uninformed, others are having bad days, and others simply think they know-it all (sounds familiar?). I think the best course of action is to level with people; inform the uninformed, tolerate mistakes, and remind those who are seasoned riders that certain habits may hurt the cycling community collectively (both being a douchebag and running red lights in an equal manner).

Thanks for being a perfect cyclists though. I don't mind if people are part of the solution, as long as they are not part of the problem :)

I agree and like your points.

I am not perfect. No one is. 

I've done things in the past that I am not happy about, that is, when I reflect on them. 

When I see these things happening, I want to say something. But most often I can't since its happening too quickly and I have a place to get to. 

Plus, I still smell like campfire smoke from camping this last weekend in them Michigan woods. 

We heard "on your left" and "coming through" and simply compiled since we were not racing anyone, just enjoying the day.

Awesome scenery and pair of Surlys there! If only the daily commute looked more like that (sigh) I'll retire to a place like that one day, I hope.

True, that's why one has to go camping away from the city now and then... or a day trip to the woods somewhere. Helps mentally. 

Tell me about it... this past two weekends its been the same routine: 

Hells yes!

Thoughtful response, Marcelo; I think you have the right attitude.

Shux, people are people, and they shouldn't be expected to see the "light" just because they are riding a bike.

All cyclists don't follow the rules and those that don't may give the others a bad rep, but on the same note, all drivers aren't upset with cyclists on the road, but I don't often hear cyclists praising drivers for their courteous behavior.

True about the light... but then there's those who choose to ignore it. 

I'm not speaking to the traffic light, but the "light" that assumes that all cyclists are somehow different than the rest of humanity.

Ah, gotcha!

Heh. Couple of years ago I biked to work, office used to be on Hubbard near the Merchandise Mart. I hop off my bike and walk it across Hubbard in the crosswalk, when suddenly one of my coworkers zooms by on his bike within about a millimeter of me....oh, and going the wrong way. I saw him a bit later in the break room, and I said, "WHAT THE HELL, MAN?!?" "What?" "YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!" He laughed. "Oh, that? Come on, I know what I'm doing! I knew I wasn't gonna hit you!"

Yeah...this is the same guy who asked me why I bought my bike brand new when I could have gone on Craig's List and gotten one for $50 like he did. I said, "Well, for the warranty, the support, knowing it's fresh, and knowing it's NOT STOLEN." He said he considered the possibility that he bought a hot bike but didn't care. He'll run red lights and stop signs, go the wrong way down one-way streets, and ride on the sidewalk if traffic is too busy. And he flat out said, "I just don't give a s**t." I said "Oh, so you're a douchebag." He laughed and said, "Yeah, I guess I am!"

And with all that crazy pedaling he helmet. Man, I'm not a "helmet nazi" (the term I saw in this forum), but seriously? If you're going to be EFFING STUPID and increase the risk that you're going to be killed, at least protect yourself! Nope: this guy will argue that it's more dangerous to wear a helmet than it is to not.

Oh...and he recently became my boss. heh.



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