Chicago bicyclists face daily perils on crowded streets

Mary Pat Fabeck agonizes over the last minutes her 22-year-old son Tyler spent after being struck by a car while riding his bike in the Logan Square neighborhood a year ago. Full Story
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“come, pet my scorpion”

Since: Oct 08

Fort Wayne, In.

#328 Apr 20, 2009
I rode a bike to work, nine miles each way, all year round for ten years in Chicago, part of that time before bike lanes existed. I never got into trouble with any motorist unless I pushed my luck. I have seen instances of sheer stupidity on the part of cyclists, but only a small minority who were obviously completely inexperienced in city riding.
I routinely rode through stop signs, after making sure that there was no cross traffic, yet always stopped at red lights because if you don't do that during rush hour you will get killed.
When I see these posts from motorists who state that they see bike riders always blasting through red lights, I wonder where this is happening. To these motorists I would say that they shouldn't worry about these cycling daredevils because they won't be around very long.
Any bike rider that thinks he can survive a crash with a two ton vehicle is demented and if he routinely places himself in the path of one of these behemoths, he is certifiable.
Like riding on the wrong side of the street, ignoring red lights is a death wish personified.
pnovotny

Chicago, IL

#329 Apr 20, 2009
Just out of curiosity, I would like to hear the answer to this question from all of you "die hard" cyclists who ride year round. Why do you think you have the right to disobey traffic signals? I have no problem with you breaking the law as long as you don't expect drivers to adjust or feel sorry for you when you get killed. After reading 282 posts I have yet to see one cyclist explain why this behavior is acceptable.
middleclassguy

Bloomington, IN

#330 Apr 20, 2009
The guy was killed while turning into an oncoming car? He was careless. That is it. The only way to change is to get rid of the cyclist right of way law. This law was passed when there were more bikes on the road that cars. If cyclists no longer have the right of way, they must abide byt the rules of the road; like they are supposed to anyway.

No pity, no sympathy.

“come, pet my scorpion”

Since: Oct 08

Fort Wayne, In.

#331 Apr 20, 2009
pnovotny wrote:
Just out of curiosity, I would like to hear the answer to this question from all of you "die hard" cyclists who ride year round. Why do you think you have the right to disobey traffic signals? I have no problem with you breaking the law as long as you don't expect drivers to adjust or feel sorry for you when you get killed. After reading 282 posts I have yet to see one cyclist explain why this behavior is acceptable.
You obviously do not ride a bike. It is a human-powered vehicle posing little or no danger to pedestrians and other traffic. When riding on city streets, especially those streets with stop signs every two blocks, it is impractical to power down, stop, and then pedal back to speed if there are no cross-traffic cars in the intersection. You will also see that the preponderance of drivers do not stop completely for stop signs.
Obeying regulations regarding stop and go lights, one-way streets, and proper (right) side of the street are followed because to disobey these laws puts the rider at risk. Drivers who state that they see riders always ride through red lights are only seeing the riders with a death wish.
Of course, there are any number of ignorant cyclists out there who persist in riding through red lights, riding the wrong way on one-way streets and riding on the wrong side of the street. These people will either learn to change their ways, or become extinct as they are routinely removed from traffic via Darwin's inescapable law of survival of the fittest.
Laws are for everyone

United States

#332 Apr 20, 2009
Carl wrote:
As a person who rides their bicycle everyday and obeys traffic signals, I understand the frustration of motorists.
However, cyclists are vulnerable on the streets because of the way our streets are engineered, and a large amount of drivers who believe all cyclists are foolish.
Traffic calming, bikeways, protected bike lanes and other infrastructure improvements will help make cycling more attractive and ease traffic congestion for motorists by encouraging more cyclists to ride in safe conditions.
Streets are public space for people, not just cars.
My sincere condolences to Tyler's family. Please continue your efforts to improve cycling so the rest of us remain safe. I'm glad this tragedy will create a positive change.
Carl, thank you for your calm, reasoned post about this issue. I totally agree that many cyclists do not obey the traffic laws, as do many motorists (the most major and dangerous infraction being failing to yield to pedestrians). This issue has to be addressed on many fronts, improved infrastructure, education and enforcement of the laws pertaining to motorist, cyclists and pedestrians.
I would also like to offer my condolences to Tyler's family. No matter who was at fault for his death, his death still leaves grieving family and friends to mourn his loss.
Winterbiker

Springfield, IL

#333 Apr 20, 2009
john wrote:
The police need to start ticketing careless and reckless bicyclists and pedestrians. Think of all the revenue.
Police do ticket bikes now. It would be nice if they, or Dept of Revenue would also start writing them for bike lane violations by cars.
DCL

Chicago, IL

#334 Apr 20, 2009
lissenup wrote:
<quoted text>You obviously do not ride a bike. It is a human-powered vehicle posing little or no danger to pedestrians and other traffic. When riding on city streets, especially those streets with stop signs every two blocks, it is impractical to power down, stop, and then pedal back to speed if there are no cross-traffic cars in the intersection. You will also see that the preponderance of drivers do not stop completely for stop signs.
Obeying regulations regarding stop and go lights, one-way streets, and proper (right) side of the street are followed because to disobey these laws puts the rider at risk. Drivers who state that they see riders always ride through red lights are only seeing the riders with a death wish.
Of course, there are any number of ignorant cyclists out there who persist in riding through red lights, riding the wrong way on one-way streets and riding on the wrong side of the street. These people will either learn to change their ways, or become extinct as they are routinely removed from traffic via Darwin's inescapable law of survival of the fittest.
Well said. This post and your previous one. I'm convinced people here crying about others riding their bikes through side street intersections (where not all but the vast majority of stop signs are) without coming to a complete stop at each and every one, haven't ridden bikes since at least their childhoods. However as you note, traffic LIGHT intersections, and the arteries they control, are different stories, and I am not on the side of those who bike through those with no regard for the traffic around them. Not only is that plain rude no matter what mode of transport you're using at the moment, it's also plain asking for it in this city.

While the standard anti-biker gripes here are disingenuous, in a basic sense they have merit. Many (not all) bike riders in fact need to change their style up if they want to help further solidify this form of transportation as a widespread legitimate mode to coexist with everyone else. But they aren't the only ones who would have to change in order for this to happen.
Bob

Chicago, IL

#335 Apr 20, 2009
some good common sense posts, and of course the usual litany of bike-hating goofballs.

I am chiming in only to point out that as a regular & long time cyclist and driver in the City (20 years+ for both), Chicago saw a massive influx of cyclists last year due to gas prices, and it would seem that 10% of them at best understood the rules of the road are for everyone.

I am with the cyclists who say that stop signs at empty intersections on side streets can be blown through. Frankly, that's not a lot different than how drivers treat these things - you know what they say about yuppies in Chicago, they bring loads of new stop signs into their neighborhoods and then ironically enough ignore all of them.

But red lights? Everyone needs to stop, period. I've seen roving gangs of idiot cyclists on Milwaukee Ave riding in huge packs, taking up an entire lane, ignoring red lights, etc. They can take that hipster-nonsense back where they came from, nobody who grew up in Chicago learned to ride like that.
wow

Fort Wayne, IN

#336 Apr 20, 2009
wow
DCL

Chicago, IL

#337 Apr 20, 2009
Bob wrote:
I've seen roving gangs of idiot cyclists on Milwaukee Ave riding in huge packs, taking up an entire lane, ignoring red lights, etc. They can take that hipster-nonsense back where they came from, nobody who grew up in Chicago learned to ride like that.
l.o.l. Good point.
Brian

Chicago, IL

#338 Apr 20, 2009
as if bicyclists are the only ones on the road that sometimes break traffic rules? Everyday I see drivers not use signals, roll stop signs, speed, change lanes in intersections, reverse all the way down a block to get a parking space, and more. There are people on both sides of the argument that don't follow the "rules of the road" but to mock and belittle the deaths of bikers of by saying they "deserve it" or that it "serves them right" because a certain percentage of them may be rude or scoff at certain laws is just hypocritical and downright cruel. As someone who knew Tyler, it makes me sick to read many of these comments.
Selfish Cyclist

Santa Clara, CA

#339 Apr 20, 2009
Brian wrote:
as if bicyclists are the only ones on the road that sometimes break traffic rules? Everyday I see drivers not use signals, roll stop signs, speed, change lanes in intersections, reverse all the way down a block to get a parking space, and more. There are people on both sides of the argument that don't follow the "rules of the road" but to mock and belittle the deaths of bikers of by saying they "deserve it" or that it "serves them right" because a certain percentage of them may be rude or scoff at certain laws is just hypocritical and downright cruel. As someone who knew Tyler, it makes me sick to read many of these comments.
Sure, it does you self important douchebag.

Get over yourself.

What's "cruel" is what his bike riding did to his parents and other loved ones. Just like suicide, suicidal bike riding is "ALL ABOUT ME"...just like your post.
mdo20

Skokie, IL

#340 Apr 20, 2009
I bike 120 miles weekly to and from school, year-round across the north suburbs. Chicago has done a fine job in its attempt to make the streets safer for cyclists. The state and county is another story. Individual suburbs may have bike routes, but they are rarely interconnected, and they generally do not traverse obstacles such as the Tri-State Tollway or Des Plaines River.

Regarding riders, I ride as if I am invisible to motorists (despite wearing neon yellow clothing and having five lights on my bike). The vast majority of motorists see me and extend extra courtesies; with my attitude towards riding, I am able to avoid a collision with those who don't see me.

I have little patience for rider snobs who believe that they don't have to obey traffic laws (I get passed frequently at red lights), and think that the it's the motorist's responsibility to avoid them. The cyclist has much more to lose in a collision, so the onus is upon him/her to make up for any motorist's inattention.
Eric Loukas

Saint Paul, MN

#341 Apr 20, 2009
Drivers need to wake up and learn that they are not the only ones on the road. Once this happens, there will be fewer accidents.

My love goes out to the Tess and her family
Steve

Joliet, IL

#342 Apr 23, 2009
My heart goes out to the family. I am in a wheelchair and was almost struck by a bicylist last week blowing through a red light while I crossed on my green!!! Cars do have an unfair advantage...but so bicyles over pedistrians...We ALL must look out for each other!
iyieldtocyclists

Tinley Park, IL

#343 Apr 27, 2009
As someone who lost a friend in a bike accident almost exactly one year ago, I have to say that the lack of sympathy for this guy and his family is astounding. How would you feel if it was someone important to you? It's not just an issue of cyclists following the rules. Drivers need to know the rules too. And I say this as someone who doesn't bike at all. My friend always talked about her frustrations with other drivers on the road and because of those stories and the close calls with cars, I have changed my driving habits around cyclists. I give them more space than they need probably and am extra, super careful, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I could never live with myself if I knew that I had taken someone's life.
Not happy

Cicero, IL

#344 May 18, 2013
You guys have missed mentioning another MASSIVE peril Chicago bicyclists face; SHOOTINGS!!! Roughly 75 percent of Chicago proper, including Downtown as well as the entire lakefront from around Lawrence Avenue (4800 north) all the way south and east to the Indiana Dunes, is all endless ghetto, and all endless bad neighborhoods. Whatever area is not over run by street gangs is over run by Flash Mobs. And both groups are known to attack innocent people, especially people on bicycles. East of Cicero Avenue, the entire area south of Lawrence Avenue is all endless ghetto, all the way south to Will County, and east all the way through Gary, Indiana. And that very seriously means streets such as Pulaski Road, Central Park Avenue, Kedzie, California, Halsted, State Street, Lake Shore Drive; All of those streets from Lawrence Avenue all the way south to Will County are endless, nonstop crime and violence neighborhoods. North of Ogden, the ghetto extends even farther west, to Austin Blvd!

In the extreme vast majority of those neighborhoods, getting whacked by an opening car door is the LEAST of your worries. In the extreme vast majority of those neighborhoods, those gangsters and mobsters will literally shoot you for your bicycle. In the extreme vast majority of those neighborhoods, cyclists are not even safe on the sidewalk. In the extreme vast majority of the entire ghetto area, if cars and car doors do not get you, flying bullets will. And while a helmet can protect your head from most impacts, no bicycle helmet in the world will EVER protect you from flying bullets. In the extreme vast majority of that entire area, gangsters and criminals don't tell you to give them your bicycle; they simply open fire on you, and they keep firing their guns at you until you fall to the ground bleeding, then they take your bike and leave you for dead.

Additionally, within the ghetto area, locking your bike will do very little if any good, as many Chicago criminals are so desparate for your bike that if they can not steal it, they'll vandalize it! And for many cyclists, it is no different having your bike stolen than to find your locked bike still attached to whatever you locked it to, but with it's wheels bent and knocked out of shape (including "tacoed" wheels), spokes snapped, tires sliced to ribbons, seat broken, cracked weld points, dents all over the frame, and other nasty stuff.
Benselys best

Nashua, NH

#345 May 20, 2013
Boston and other cities all have problems with bikers & city traffic.

American cities are congested with aggressive sometime inexperienced drivers in a hurry to get someplace add bikers who sometimes bend or just ignore the rules of the road and you have a prescription for disaster.

Everyone meaning drivers and bikers thinks they should go first or have the right of way.
That simply doesn't work.

the only sensible solution is to create bike paths on the city streets. The problem however is most cities don't have the room in crowded environments to create bike space.

Bike riders just don't belong on busy city streets with very heavy traffic unless they are willing to yield the right of way to the bigger heavier car.

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