Years back, I was an avid bicyclist. I used to bike from Belmont and the lakefront all the way out to 83rd and Ingleside where a good friend lived. That was before bike lanes and all the other amenities that have been put on the streets. The only benefit that existed was that Lincoln Park did have a bike trail that went from the North Side to the South Side. But once I got to about 67th street, I would have to move over to the streets. And though I would do that probably every weekend, I never had a major incident. Why? Because common sense was prevalent in my biking skills.
Bike versus any motorized vehicle … bike loses. Fast forward to today and the city has added so many bike lanes that the average person riding is only average in their biking skills. The common-sense skill sets that used to be developed are missing as people expect to ride a bike with motorized vehicles like they would on a bike trail with nothing else.
A couple of weeks ago I was picking up a package at Leavitt and Eastwood. Eastwood runs westbound but coming down the street eastbound at a rapid pace was a grown man on a bicycle and a little kid on a motorized vehicle who was less than 2 feet off the ground. What struck me initially is how fast that little vehicle went, along with the fact of how low it was to the ground.
Days later I read the news story about the little boy who was killed while riding, hit by a car. The driver of the car was not cited, which led me to presume that the folks I saw earlier were the same ones involved in the accident. And since the kid had no business riding in the street, it’s hard to fault the driver for the accident (and CPD did not ticket the driver).
That incident was followed by the one where the mother was riding her daughter on a bicycle. She came to a stop sign but then the information in the news report was not clear. A ComEd truck was parked blocking the bike lane. A semi- was also going down the road but it was unclear who had the right of way at the stop sign when both were going in the same direction. What is known is that somehow the mother lost her balance, the kid fell off the bicycle, and was run over by the truck.
Where is the common sense that would tell that parent to ride on the sidewalk even if you’re not supposed to? Especially in light of that being a dangerous and busy intersection? Especially when bicyclists can pick any street. They do not have to stick to a bike lane.
We need a more honest discussion about bicyclists and rules of the road. Tragedies that don’t need to happen should not be whitewashed by simply blaming the villainous motorized vehicles when the truth may lie more in parents who are using poor judgment.