To Bike or not to Bike

I have long pondered the possibility of bringing my bike from Iowa and riding it around Chicago to and from work and whatnot. It would not only be quicker than walking, but it would be economical and great exercise. However, a few main things have kept me from doing this:

  1. The wicked winter weather
  2. I can’t store the thing in my apartment, so I’d have to pay to have it stored elsewhere
  3. Bikes (or parts of them) get stolen all the time, no matter how many safeguards you have
  4. It is really dangerous in Chicago

This last point may be emphasized by some recent events. A biker was hit and killed outside our building a couple of weeks ago. Skip and Cassidy were out for a walk and witnessed the horrible aftermath of the crash. He was only 22.

I have had one friend who has hit a biker, and another friend who has been hit by a car while biking. And just yesterday, as I was returning from my internship, I was wondering why on earth traffic was so bad at that particular moment, when I heard sirens all around me and saw a fire engine pull up and stop in front of me. It was then that I noticed the man lying in the middle of the road and the bike beside him. I think he was okay in the end, but it reminded me of just how dangerous it is to bike the roads of Chicago.

But the question remains–is it the drivers who are dangerous, or the bikers themselves? After observing for almost three years, I have to say it is both. Drivers are impatient (especially taxis) and think they can whip around a turning car whenever they want without checking their mirrors. But bikers think they own the road on their small skinny two wheeled contraptions. Few wear a helmet and even fewer actually abide by the rules.

I drive every day this summer to and from my internship, and I have been so nervous about these bikers. I am constantly watching out for them, but they are so small and quick. One minute they’re there, the next they’re gone. One’s driving at you, one beside you, and one crossing in the middle of the road. The next is weaving in and out of cars at a stoplight and crossing, though he should know he is considered a moving vehicle and should be abiding by the same laws as cars.

When a biker is hit, who is usually suspected first? The car driver. But the more I witness, the more concerned I become about these bikers putting their own lives at risk. If you are a driver, please be aware of bikers’ presence and always check blind spots! If you are a biker, please remember you are not the only vehicle on the road and stick to the rules.

And so I continue to remain bikeless in Chicago. Maybe someday when I live in the country…:-)

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by tie.crawler on July 11, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    I know what you’re talking about. Bikers HAVE to pretend they’re cars, or they get cocky and dart out in traffic and get dead. Gotta ride like you’re invisible.

    Reply

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