The Active Transportation Alliance is very active when it comes to bikers, but not walkers and people who use public transportation

The Active Transportation Alliance is very active when it comes to bikers, but not walkers and people who use public transportation
Photo/Chicago Tribune

In honor of Bike the Drive this morning, Channel 7 had someone on from the Active Transportation Alliance.

This group bills itself as advocating not only for bikes, but for walkers and public transportation users, too.  Sounds nice, huh?

But I’d like to know this:  where’s the evidence that walking and public trans are on their agenda?  It sure wasn’t this morning.

For me, someone who hasn’t driven their own car for the last 16 years–it broke, I didn’t fix it, I decided I really didn’t need it and there it sits in the garage, a relic of the past–I’d like a true advocate for me and others like me.

But I guarantee this group isn’t for that.

This morning, all that was talked about is how wonderful it is to bike in the city.  How more and more of the streets are given over for biking exclusively. Nothing about how piecemeal it is, how dangerous it is, how the bike lanes clog the traffic–and how truly overwhelming the Chicago bike culture is for those who are doing the right thing:  walking and using public transportation.

The Active Transportation Alliance says most bikers are drivers, as well–so they see world from that perspective, too.  But are they walkers?  Are they seeing the world from that perspective?  I see no evidence they see anything from any perspective other than getting on their bikes, donning their helmets and other protective gear for themselves.  And damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, let the walkers beware.

It has become impossible to walk a block in the South Loop without bikers high-speeding along the sidewalk, dangerous as all get out for those of us in our walking shoes.  And often, they ride on sidewalks right alongside their denoted bike lanes in the street.  It’s enough to drive the average citizen crazy.

But what fun is it to use the denoted bike lanes when there’s a nice safe sidewalk adjacent?  In the bike lane, a car might veer over and scare you!

Then there’s the bikers who are constantly looking sideways to see the sights, the beautiful buildings in Chicago, the interesting little businesses along their way, the interesting people wearing interesting outfits.  They don’t look ahead to see the pedestrians in their paths.  In fact, more often than not, they give walkers dirty looks for getting in their way.  The ultimate danger, the ultimate insult, the ultimate flouting of the ordinance.

Bikers are hard to see and hard to hear–perhaps impossible, on both counts–before it’s too late.  Are they aware of that?

I think not:  they are clueless scofflaws who ignore the fact that it’s against the law for them to be on the sidewalk at all.

And the bike lanes have become dangers to pedestrians, too.  Who realizes–unless they learn the hard way–that on a one way street like Dearborn, the bikes go both ways on the other side of parked cars on only one side?  Two lanes for bikes that come out of nowhere as a walker approaches the curb.

The new raised bikes lanes are just as bad.  Collisions are inevitable as walkers approach the curb, unaware that bikes may be approaching the curb perpendicularly, sharing exactly the same path with the pedestrians. Human beings are subliminally aware of others approaching from the side and how long it takes.  But not so bikes.  That’s a new one that takes tremendous concentration and awareness.    If walkers aren’t aware and concentrating on the possibility of a bike down the way to the side, the bikers are not going to care.  They’re bikers!  Kings of the urban jungle.

All I’m asking is this, Active Transportation.  Don’t just pretend that you care about walkers or public transportation users.  Be our advocates, too.  Talk about us wherever you go.  Concentrate on advocating for us?  I’ve seen nothing of the sort so far.  It’s all bikes all the time.

Where’s the crackdown on bikers who use sidewalks and terrorize the rest of us?  How about an answer, Active Transportation Alliance?  Ask your pal Rahm to think about us because we outnumber you and we are even better for the environment than the bikers.  We want safety.  We want consideration.  We want you to live up to your name.

You bikers want a lot of real estate devoted to your passion.  And you’ve gotten it.  But you want all the real estate, don’t you?

Is this how you really feel?  Walkers, get into the health club and use the treadmills.  Or better yet, walk in place in the Red Line aisles.  Leave the great outdoors to us.

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