Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Only Jerks Ride Their Bikes on the Sidewalk


The video PSA is meant for New Yorkers, but applies to Chicago and to Hyde Park as well, where any number of adult douchebags do this.

Note: it's against the law. Further note: when you do this, in addition to being a blatant douchebag, you are a hazard to pedestrians -- especially small children. So your fear is not an excuse. Don't like the road? Get off and walk it.

Further note: These people need to be ticketed. In some cases, they should (and can be) arrested. The last 4th Ward Alderman agreed, but pointed out that the way to make it happen was to raise the subject at a CAPS meeting. I'll see you there.

Furthest note: got video of a douchebag like this in HP? Send it to me.

-posted by chicago pop

25 comments:

Lilithcat said...

It's not just riding on the sidewalk. It's blowing stop signs, not signaling turns, wearing earbuds (and/or talking on the phone) and, my personal recent favorite idiocy, cutting in front of a car from the right to make a left-hand turn.

Jen M. said...

There is a lot of neighborhood education that needs to be done on this issue on all sides though. I've had multiple drivers in Hyde Park actually SCREAM at me to ride on the f**king sidewalk (this seems to be a particular problem on the blocks immediately S and N of 53rd St.). So, I'm not surprised that people get intimidated into doing exactly that.

chicago pop said...

Good points on both counts.

@ Lilithcat: all those behaviors are stupid and hazardous and I see them too, but they are hazardous above all to the cyclists themselves. The same is not true of riding on sidewalks, where the cyclist is an indisputable hazard to pedestrians. And when they are (blowing through cross-walks, say), they should be busted. In some cases the offenders are regular and on a schedule. They should be ticketed. The only cop I know by sight rides around all summer long on a 4-wheeler giving parking citations. If they can keep a guy on his posterior doing that four months of the year, they can stop a rogue cyclist once in a while.

@ Jen: there's no doubt that there are some Neanderthal drivers out there who are not only needlessly aggressive, but also deeply ignorant of the rules of the road. However, if it's so bad that you need to bump your bike up onto the sidewalk, you are effectively doing unto others as has just been done to you. And you are also slowing down enough so that you should probably just walk.

In all cases, of course, I think the neighborhood education that we seek would be facilitated if any of this douchebag activity were filmed and shared with the world.

I know I'm keeping a flip cam handy for just that.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Can we also mention cyclists riding at full speed (for exercise) around the Point, which is not a bike path, and riding at full speed under the pedestrian tunnels? (I don't mind people tooling around the Point or under the tunnels at a near-walking pace.) P.S. Barking "on your left" doesn't magically make it legal.

chicago pop said...

Same thing applies to the tunnels at the Point as to HP sidewalks in general -- and there are posted signs to that effect on either side of that tunnel: GET OFF YOUR BIKE IN PEDESTRIAN ZONES, LANCE ARMSTRONG.

This said from someone who is a serious cyclist himself.

Andrew said...

The best way to get cyclist to show some respect on the road is to show them that they are being treated equal to automotive traffic. In parts of Berlin there are bike lanes separate from both sidewalks and the street which have their only traffic lights. Of course bicyclists not obeying the traffic laws is wrong, but it is somehow easier when drivers give you no respect, and rarely drive curiously or legally themselves.

HP said...

Exemption - parents riding with kids under 12.

chicago pop said...

Absolutely.

TA said...

As a cyclist myself, I consistently will yell at idiots biking on the sidewalk if they go by me. Of course the biggest spot for this right now is the 57th St. viaduct because of the silly one-way traffic rules and exacerbated by the construction. I actually haven't really blamed bikes doing it right there (although I don't do it myself) as long as they get back on the street after.

At the same time, it is amazing how aggressive cars in Hyde Park as well. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost gotten run down on my bike or walking through the intersection at 56th and Hyde Park Blvd by cars blowing through the stop sign to make the light at MSI. I wrote a note to Alderman Hairston complaining about this spot last week, but haven't gotten a response.

Greg said...

The bike messengers in the Loop are insane and think they own the road. I can't tell you how many ti8mes I've had the right of way when walking across a street only to be barely missed by a biker hauling ass and then cursed out for not getting out of their way.

Redag said...

I'm a casual cyclist. I'd like to describe my own behavior in an attempt to understand how it relates to how others understand appropriate and inappropriate bicycle behavior.

The majority of my riding is on my short commute to and from work. In the morning I pull my bike out of the basement, walk it to the alley north of my exit by residential building-length, hop on, go through the alley and merge into vehicular traffic via a left-hand turn when I emerge at the end of the block.

I then bike south to 55th, when I do so I pass several stop signs, slowing to just a little bit above the point where I have to put a foot down. If there's competing traffic, I do stop and put a foot down.

I turn onto 55th, obeying traffic signals. I usually, but not always, assume that hand-signalling braking when approaching stop signs and lights is superfluous as all traffic should be doing so as well.

From 55th I execute a lane change in order to make a left turn onto a north-south campus street. Appropriate hand signals are made.

I arrive at campus, and here's one of two on-topic transgressions, I mount a quadrangle sidewalk, adopt a speed so that I am not overtaking pedestrian traffic (unless I'm literally lurking behind somebody and feel like I'm being a creeper for it) and take about 200 feet to arrive at my destination bike rack.

On the way back, cutting through the alley where I start out, I check for foot traffic, assuming there is none I crawl my way that one building length before putting my foot down and taking my bike back inside my building and basement.

I feel like my actions are commensurate with the compromises that even conservative automobile drivers make with the letter of the law, and that I mitigate risk very reasonably, even for the high standards that apply to mitigating risk incurred unto others. I'd like to know and understand the opinions of those with whom I share a neighborhood, however.

Richard Gill said...

Require bikes to have license plates. Anonymity encourages douchebag cycling behavior. As for car drivers, a June 23 article in the online Wall Street Journal says that there is a correlation between aggressive driving and vanity license plates. DOUHVEM?

Jerry said...

I'm a lot more concerned about what seems like a huge problem on the south side which is rolling through STOP signs. I watch a good 70% of cars simple slow and roll through many intersections. A chronic problem.

chicago pop said...

That's a big problem, too, but a separate one. We'll tackle that in another post.

deb said...

I pull out of a driveway onto 57th St. Full stop, loud horn (the neighbors must love it at 7 AM), creep over sidewalk, creep into traffic (right turn, would not even think of a left turn).

I used to worry mostly about other drivers and getting into traffic. NOW, I worry about hitting sidewalk cyclists wearing earphones. They move faster than pedestrians so I can't see them and they won't hear me.
You know who will be found at fault if there's an accident.

Jerry said...

Ugh, I can't stand honkers. I prefer to simply creep forward slowly over onto the sidewalk and pedestrians are sure to see me. Honking is absolutely obnoxious especially if you happen to live on an alley. Imagine how many times a day you have to listen to car horns.

Marc Monaghan said...

Check this out:
http://vimeo.com/24572222

Andrew Cone said...

I am an avid cyclist, and I do not ride in the sidewalk. However, given how bikes are treated by cars and the police, I can not fault other cyclists for doing so. Drivers routinely yell at bikes to get into the sidewalk. I have even had a CPD officer tell me to ride in the sidewalk. This happens most of all when I heed traffic laws by staying centered in the lane and heeding stop signs, as mandated by illinois law.

On july 4th, I was hit by a driver who left turned without yielding from 31st onto vernon ave. I got a huge bruise on my leg, and both my wheels and one brake were destroyed. The driver parked, got out of his car, and told me he wasn't going to talk to me. He then started walking away, so I called the cops, who said that I could fill out a report, but that they didn't see why they should send a squad car after the guy. I protested vehemently, and eventually they sent a car. The policeman initially told me that nothing could be done, but I said I wanted the guy cited, so the policeman grudgingly cited him for reckless driving (and subsequently driving without a license and without insurance, for which he was arrested).

The entire time the policeman acted like because I was a biker, my injury and property damage were inconsequential. This is how bikers are used to being treated by both drivers and law enforcement. So it should come as no surprise that we don't take the finer points of the law too seriously.

Anyway, the emphasis on safety here seems misplaced. When I'm walking, it certainly pisses me off when a chrome bag wielding indie band member zips past on his insuffrable bianchi. But this is at most an annoyance: I've never seen or credibly heard of anyone actually being hurt by this. Cars, meanwhile, hit pedestrians and cyclists all the time, and such accidents are a leading cause of death in the US.

Pedestrian safety would be better served by a similar jeremiad inveighing against crappy drivers, and the more-or-less nonenforcement of stop signs and urban speed limits.

SR said...

FWIW, I was hit by a guy riding a bike at a pretty fast speed on the sidewalk about a week ago. I turned to go into a building, and whammo, I guess I turned into his path. Fortunately I wasn't injured, but it was jarring.

He shouted an apology over his shoulder instead of stopping to make sure I was okay or anything. (Thanks a lot, spikey-mohawk guy.)

beautype said...

Until city streets provide adequate bike lanes, how can we blame people, especially the young and the aged, from using sidewalks to have less chance of dying violently from overexposure to cars?

Also, the crass name-calling in this post significantly degrades the quality of discussion. If points are worth making, they should rely on strength of the point and not slinging of mud, which actually does disservice to any argument.

chicago pop said...

LoL. I guess the crass name-calling disqualifies me for a Pulitzer. Shoot.

SR said...

I wonder, has any city ever tried putting bike paths on the sidewalk? Sidewalks on most major streets in Chicago are wide enough for a pedestrian and a bike lane, I think, and it would only cost the city some paint and a few days labor instead of street-widening construction. You could make sidewalk riding legal for bike lanes only.

susan said...

Competent and quick cyclists with good reflexes don't belong on the sidewalks. But there needs to be some leeway for adult re-entry cyclists, including older adults.

Chapel Hill Air Hockey Tournament said...

Chicago has its own PSA for "Don't Ride on the Sidewalk": http://chicagobikes.org/video/index.php?loadVideo=sidewalk

Richard Gill said...

While we're talking about bicycles on the sidewalk, let's talk about skateboards IN THE STREET.

This afternoon (Aug. 5), some jerk riding a skateboard on 56th Street avoided rear-ending a car only by bailing out at the last second. The car was at a stop sign for Hyde Park Boulevard. The board skittered down the street and the rider stumbled across the curb, somehow managing to remain upright.

The car moved on, the driver apparently unaware of the near collision. The skateboarder was no kid; he was definitely of drinking age which may have been the problem.