Beware the Divvy tourist

Beware the Divvy tourist

Maybe it’s just me, but I think Divvy has worsened the already tenuous relationship between cars and bikes in Chicago. It seems to be the worst downtown and on the lake, so I’ve decided to blame the tourists. You see one of those blue bikes and you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a completely unpredictable situation.

Don’t get me wrong; bike sharing is good, in theory … less pollution, more exercise, etc. But this is Chicago, not some town in the Netherlands. Drivers here are not that bicycle-friendly. Add tourists to the mix, and the Divvy situation becomes downright hazardous.

For starters, tourists are thoroughly unaware that the lakefront path is more like the Autobahn, or a circus, rather than a good place for a leisurely ride. I suppose you can’t really blame them, since it is a bike path, but what about those who pedal down Michigan Avenue? They really should know better. You’re expecting to dodge cabs and busses on Michigan Avenue, but not a Divvy tourist. And then there are those who ride on the sidewalks, or down Lake Shore Drive. It’s not only stupid, but it’s against the law.

Chicago has pretty clear bike laws, which apply to both drivers and cyclists. Cyclists have to yield to pedestrians, use hand signals when turning and walk bikes on sidewalks. They have to follow all the traffic rules that cars have to follow. They can’t text or talk on the phone. And they’re supposed to ride single file. If you’re a daily bike commuter in Chicago, these things are probably common knowledge, or at least (hopefully) common sense.

Tourists don’t know Chicago bike laws. Technically, that’s no excuse and you can get ticketed even if you didn’t know you were doing something illegal. But there has to be a better way to keep everyone safe. The bikes are so tempting – they’re everywhere and they look fun. That was probably the point. So of course people visiting Chicago are going to want to ride them around.

I used to laugh at the Segway tours, but now I see their brilliance. They have tour guides, use low speeds and even provide helmets. Now that’s a good way to take in the sights of our great city.

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