Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chicago compare and contrast

Or turnabout is fair play. First there's this by Cate Plys: Dear bicyclists: Next time, think of us motorists.
Yes, yes, we know. You're better than us. You care about the planet. In your vast wardrobe of colorful biking outfits, you imagine you look like you're racing up an alp in the Tour de France rather than the gentle slope of a paltry Lake Shore Drive overpass.

You assume the people you leave in your two-wheel wake are marveling at the reds, greens and oranges—envying you.

We're not. We're thinking that most of you are a bunch of smug, self-satisfied, frequently dangerous jerks. We're thinking you should lose about 10 pounds before subjecting the world to those bike pants again.

Then Dan Korn in Chicago wrote his own letter: Dear motorists: Next time, think of us cyclists.
Yes, yes, we know. You're better than us. You're really trying to get somewhere. In your vast array of colorful cars and trucks, you imagine you look like you're racing around a curve in the Daytona 500 rather than a residential street.

You assume the people you leave in your four-wheel wake are marveling at the engine, power and spoiler—envying you.

We're not. We're thinking that most of you are a bunch of smug, self- satisfied, frequently dangerous jerks. We're thinking you should get on a bike and lose about 10 pounds before subjecting the world to those pants again.
Update: See also Danielo's commentary.


  1. It's very easy as a motorist to end up hating almost everyone, four-wheeled, two-wheeled, ten-wheeled or eighteen-wheeled. Roads are our most-shared space. We come face to face with discourtesy, greed, aggression and thoughtlessness countless times a day. Cyclists just make an easy target.

  2. Too true cafiend, cyclists are simply easier to pick on and who hasn't been inconvenienced by inconsiderate wrong-way rider? But compared to the life threatening car, truck, SUV, I prefer the mistakes made by knuckleheaded cyclists.

  3. That one was my favoritest response. I declined to respond given the comment "everybody who has a problem with the letter isn't from Chicago" and that I didn't even want to dignify it.
    Oppressive cultures tend to justify their behavior by projecting attitudes on their oppressees. They talk a bout it amongst themselves and it's a heck of a lot easier than facing the fact that they're stooping below civil behavior. If they all agree that we deserve it, it must be right, right? Ask any bully. They only hurt people who are asking for it.

  4. Please let me know when a cyclist falls asleep, crosses two lanes of traffic and runs over and kills two people driving SUV's. Until then motorists need to STFU.

  5. I will never quite understand this rabid mutual animosity between cyclists and motorists in America.

    When viewed from afar, it's hard to see the difference. There is little difference in tone, attitude or militant opinion.

  6. @gttim: Agree completely. Yours is a much more succinct version of my sentiment.

  7. With all due respect, I think some of you need to read the entire commentary by Ms. Plys. She says she's a a cyclist, but she finds it difficult to come to the defense of cyclists who constantly disobey the rules of the road.

    In the commentary, she also advocates European-style grids of bicycle paths.

  8. You know a neighbor of mine started off an anti-cycling speech in front of my county commission, with "I want to start by saying that I am a cyclist and a runner." I have lived next to the lying SOB for two years. I have never seen him bike or run. I have seen him purposely swerve into the bike lane almost hitting two cyclists to scare them. When anybody starts any argument with something like I am a cyclist, I am a liberal, I am a black man and argues against the position you would think they might normally hold, I always assume they are lying. I think that writer was lying, or her idea of "being a cyclist" is owning one when she was a kid. I would bet money she does not actively cycle, unless maybe she rides with her kids in a subdivision.

  9. I did read the entire commentary, but was put off almost right away by the sentence "Bikers decided en masse years ago that traffic rules are only for fossil-fueled geeks." If her purpose was to convince more cyclists to obey the traffic laws, this was not the way to do it. If her purpose was only to whip up the cycle of inflammatory victimized ranting and accusations between the "cagers" and the "bikers," then it worked perfectly. Yes, she had some good points, but they were lost in the noise, leaving us all rather peeved at what appears to be her main one. And it's just more of what we don't need around here.

  10. As a denizen of The Windy City, I've been following this current debate since it started with Matthew Manger-Lynch's death during The Alley Cat. It happened on the worst 3way intersection possible, he had no helmet, and no one in their right mind would blow a red light for a jersey and bragging rights.

    Yes, cars are generally more dangerous than bikes.

    Yes, there should be more bikes than cars on our streets for all kind of practical and principled reasons.

    HOWEVER, this guy got himself killed in the middle of my neighborhood. And it's made my daily commute rather hellish.

    Some bikers now think they need to blow the light just to prove they can do it and some cagers feel they have a right now to hurl abuse at me while I'm waiting for the light...