Letters & Comments, August 13, 2009 | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Letters & Comments, August 13, 2009

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Two Wheels vs. Four Wheels

Re: "Bikers Beware of Thing-Throwing Jackasses" by Whet Moser, from the Reader blog, August 5

I have two stories that I defy anyone to blame on me being an "annoying biker."

I was waiting at a red light—yes, waiting at a full stop with my foot down, not track standing or circling or inching into the intersection—when the passenger in a contractor's truck threw a half-full 16-ounce bottle of soda at me and struck me in the lower back hard enough to bruise. My crime? I was in the right-hand lane, and the truck wanted to turn right, despite several signs reading no right turn on red. (In the absence of such signs, I make sure to stop far enough to the left that drivers can pass me to the right to make their turns.)

It gets better. While riding on the lakefront trail—a bike path, not even a road that I'm obligated to share with motor vehicles—I was shot at roughly a dozen times by the passenger in a car coming down the Lake Shore Drive exit lane near Montrose. Fortunately he missed every time—moving platform, moving target—and only knocked some twigs out of the trees around me, so I didn't get to find out the hard way whether the rifle he was using was a pellet gun or a paintball gun. But I don't think there's any arguing that this is some messed-up shit.

Whatever irritating bad behavior cyclists exhibit—and I commute by bike every day, so I see a lot of it—it doesn't justify straight-up assault. And drivers who bitch about cyclists tend to overlook a very simple fact: If we fuck up, we get killed. If you fuck up, we get killed. It ain't exactly a level playing field. —Philip Montoro

I have been riding off and on in the city for around 10 years. Also, I am from the Southwest side. When I first started riding my bike around, as I had no car, I would drive down Archer Ave (pre-gentrification) and get things tossed out windows at me all the time. I would be yelled at, cursed at, told to get off the rode, bikes have no place, etc. Now, things are better and I feel slightly safer. I now have a car and I am more aware of bikes on the rode. But I understand the aggravation of some drivers toward a few errant bike riders. Now, I go through red lights when there are no cars around and yes, sometimes I roll through stop signs, but on my bike, I am not doing anything different than most people in cars. In fact, the most dangerous thing I witness by drivers is passing on the right. I witness it everyday on my bike or in my car, and it is so DANGEROUS. Yet, the police do nothing. I would be willing as a bike rider to adhere to every rule of the road if the police actually tickted drivers for their bad behavior. —NateChi79

I was at a full stop at Wrightwood & Halsted, waiting to make a left turn on 7/19/09. A guy ran up to me and yelled out "It's ok cuz you're wearing a helmet!" and punched my head.

Last night I was riding north on Sheffield just north of Irving when a car drove up and a passenger threw something that hit the side of my face. I looked at the car which was now in front of me, the backseat passenger had opened his door to look at me and confirm I was hit. He laughed and the car sped off.

Last year, two women trying to hail cabs kicked me while I was riding north on Halsted too. All this violence is unacceptable. They have all put my life in danger and all I did was ride a bike. We need more laws to protect bikers. —Jed

May I suggest that Critical Mass also plays a role in "Bike Rage?" Having to be delayed once a month so a bunch of hip 20 somethings can tell you what an evil detriment to society you are just because you drive a car certainly damages the diplomacy between car people and bike people. I am in no way suggesting that the event justifies vandalism or assault, I am just trying to pinpoint causes of seemingly unprovoked throwing.

More generally, I think motorists in Chicago are just an angry lot. I see almost as many car to car altercations as I do car to bike. —soaked

I think the main problem is that the bicycle lanes in Chicago are shit. They are barely visible to drivers, and do practically nothing to protect bicyclists. At intersections, they force bicycles and cars together when they end right in the middle of a turn lane.

At the very least, they should be fully painted with a high contrasting color to make them more visible. To make them actually effective, they should be separated from the street by a curb, allowing the parking lane to go on the outside of the bike path. Perhaps at some time in the future our "green" city could implement this feature. —Mr. P

For every bad driver there are a hundred good ones who are polite and careful with cyclists. Thanks to them, I've never been hit and the only thing that's been tossed from a window at me was a kiss. —happybicycles

Dump the Motherfucker Already

Re: "Mr. Big Spender: As the city faced a gaping budget deficit, the Daley administration closed out Chicago's oldest and fattest slush fund by spending every last cent in it—and then some" by Ben Joravsky, August 6

Kick Daley's ass out of office. As Dan Savage says, "DTMFA." —Abe Lincoln

They Don't Know What We Know

Ben Joravsky's incessant vitriol that maligns, vilifies and demonizes Mayor Daley is bombastic and only resonates with nihilists, atheists and anarchists. Conversely, articles in National Geographic, Time magazine and Vanity Fair that have lauded Daley for being a green mayor have resonated with ecologists, environmentalists, conservationists, nature stewards, horticulturists and botanists. Being green is more constructive than venting spleen. —Brien Comerford

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