Friday, August 13, 2010

Elm Park Bike Safety Clnic: August 21, 2010

Good idea. And one more thing: if you're riding a bike and are over 12 years old, please get off the sidewalk. It's the law.


Dustin J. Mitchell said...

In other neighborhoods and suburbs there are signs pointing out it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk. Could we get those here, too? At least on the sidewalks with the worst bike traffic?

SK Barnum, MD said...

i had my bike stolen last year.

chicago pop said...

@Dustin: the law in Chicago is clear. Bikes ridden by people over 12 years of age need to be ridden in the street. Pulling a trailer with kids? OK pass. Riding with preschoolers? OK again. But a 50 year-old man on 3-foot wide recumbent, or teenage jackass on a cellphone? Sorry. There is a standard sign that the City will put up at the request of your alderman. Preckwinkle is responsive as far as having signs installed. The problem is education and, crucially, enforcement. Cyclists in violation of this ordinance can be ticketed up to $250 and have their bicycles disabled -- but I have never seen nor heard of this happening in real life.

If you see egregious, dangerous sidewalk riding, take a picture of the offender and send it to HPP!

Dustin J. Mitchell said...

Interesting choice of words. If all of these folks are doing it, then I suspect the law is *not* clear.

chicago pop said...

It would become much clearer if cops started writing tickets.

The ordinance leaves some gray area regarding parents escorting kids, but it is clear as day otherwise. Adults need to ride in the street and not on the sidewalk. A few $250 tickets and word would get around.

george said...

You should talk to some of the residents in the DARE building on 55th. They've told me about having service animals hit by bikers on the sidewalk, and wheelchairs being pushed off the sidewalk by irate bikers.

I'm all for bike riding, but I'm also glad Timika is starting a "safety education" program as part of her efforts in Elm Playlot.

Lilithcat said...

And please obey the rules of the road, as well. If I had a nickel for every bicyclist I've seen blow a stop sign and nearly get hit by a car as a result, I'd retire.

Chicago_mom said...

Interesting comments re: biking, sidewalks, and so on. While I don't wish to defend law-breaking, I do wish to request a bit more nuance and context in these discussions. Hyde Park has some "bike friendly" features, but it sure has some pretty hostile ones too.

Consider east/west streets in Hyde Park--how many go under the Metra tracks? Would you like your 13 year old to bike alone on 55th Street to the lake? That is one crazy street. 56th street is kinder and gentler--but it is so full of potholes eastbound (when you want to stay in the left lane so you don't get run over by aggressive right turners at 56th and Stony Island) that this adult, not to mention, I'd venture, many children, has a lot of trouble staying upright on her bike. That sidewalk has lots of appeal on 56th between Lake Park and Stony Island.

And what about getting back from the lake, traveling westbound? 57th street is (in theory) one way east bound at the tracks, though I don't deny sometimes riding westbound there--or even being on that sidewalk by the Metra station/Istria. My preferred route is to use 56th to Lake Park, go south to 57th and then use 57th....but again, think about that traffic on 57th.....some kids could have trouble navigating there, as traffic is slow (good) but busy (double parked cars, delivery vehicles, etc.).

I don't have a good solution, really, other than encouraging bikers, pedestrians, and drivers to use common sense and be a bit more respectful of the other guy when you can. Hyde Park just has so many one way streets, dead ends, and potholed streets that are absolutely dangerous for bikers to really can be frustrating, even for conservative, play-by-the-rules bikers.

Dustin J. Mitchell said...

Bikers certainly have more leeway to "bend" the rules than cars do. Technically, if you do anything that violates vehicular laws, you should dismount, but in practice biking against traffic under the 57th street station is probably, as CP said, "OK pass".

My issue actually isn't particularly with the bikers on the sidewalk - it's with the cars that drive as if we *should* be on the sidewalk. I've had people yell "get out of the road" at me, which is totally bogus.

I got doored this winter on 55th street, so I certainly try to stay clear of that street when commuting. The potholes on 56th are pretty bad, but not insurmountable. 57th street has enough stop signs that traffic is nice and slow, and except for the viaduct, it's one-way. I prefer the 56th street viaduct anyway (but then, I live on 56th street).

chicago pop said...

It's true, bikers are usually caught between a car and a hard sidewalk. My heart goes out to anyone, especially Dustin J. Mitchell, who has been doored. Ouch.

chicago pop said...

Here's the tough but nuanced lesson I'd have with my 13 year old. Wear a helmet, ride with adults in the street where possible, and if it's not safe, get off and walk your bike on the sidewalk until it's safe again.

That's basically what I think adult bikers should do, and it's what I do. If it seems so scary/potholed/busy etc that you don't want to ride in the street, then get off an walk until it's OK -- don't colonize pedestrian territory.

I used to be a bicycle messenger in the Loop so I know what it means to terrorize pedestrians with two-wheeled vehicles. I could tell you some stories. But now I've come over to the side of the Force. Tangentially, I think 55th is the safest E-W corridor in Hyde Park chiefly because the sight-lines are clear and you can occupy a lane while allowing for traffic to pass. I ride it all the time. But there are some bikers that even I occasionally want to run off the road because, well, they're jackasses.

A lot of how motorists respond to you will depend on how you act on the road. Wear appropriate gear, act predictably, acknowledge right-of-way at intersections, signal turns, and don't be afraid to take up space, and motorists will respect you. It's counterintuitive, but the more you try to stay out of the way and hug the cars parked at the curb, the more motorists will be tempted to squeeze by in the margin of space you leave them, and the greater the likelihood that you'll eat a door. Make cars slow down or change lanes to go around you. Cyclists have a right to be in the street.

But even when they don't, as they inevitably won't, don't take it out on the next smaller guys in the food chain.