Is it time to license bicyclists?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Arlene Jones


I was driving eastbound on Montrose the other day. I stopped at the stop sign for Ravenswood Avenue and then slowly began to ease forward. There was a truck that was parked pretty close to the stop sign, which obscured my view of the one way southbound street. As I prepare to turn onto it, from out of nowhere a bicyclist riding northbound suddenly appeared going at full speed, ignoring any consideration of traffic signs, and made an angled left turn onto westbound Montrose. Had I not braked suddenly while the bicyclist at the same time swerved, we would have collided. And that collision would have been fatal for him. Because in the rules of the world of physics: car vs bike — car wins. Truck vs. car — truck wins. Train vs. bus — train wins. Train vs. train — tie!

When an accident between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist occurs, everyone likes to blame the motorist. The motorist is licensed to drive. The motorist has taken the time to study the rules of the road and to pass the test to be given the privilege of driving. The same cannot be said for a bicyclist. They purchase a bike and because this city has been on a concerted effort to put bike lanes on the same road with vehicles, those riding bikes act as if they don't have to obey any rules of the road or display that they even have knowledge of them.

In the news recently, two incidents involving bicyclists either led to their injury or death. One bicyclist was traveling alongside a dump truck. I cannot understand what would possess a bicyclist to even considering traveling along the side of a truck. Both of them stopped at a stoplight, but when the light turned green, the truck made a right turn and the bicyclist who wanted to go straight was caught in the truck's blind spot. The bicyclist ended up dead, caught under the wheels of the truck. 

In another incident, a bicyclist heading westbound on 87th Street was hit by a car traveling northbound. Bicycle advocates were quick to point out about the need to have protected bike lanes. But there's no protected bike lane within an intersection. And I bet that bicyclist was traveling against the traffic light!

As I look at all the bike lanes that have been created in Chicago, I wonder what logic or illogic was used to put so many on major thoroughfares where cars and trucks must travel? And when snow comes, are those bicycles going to be traveling in those protected lanes? Because there's no way to shovel them!

It is time for all individuals over the age of 18 to have to wear a visible, reflective city of Chicago license when biking here. Bicyclists will need to take a test (which can be done online), to prove they know the rules of the road in regard to their biking behavior. If we have suburbanites who are biking into the city, they'll have to buy a city of Chicago bike license as well (can you say revenue?). Motorists who buy a city sticker will get one free license.

And since there are more motorists than bicyclists, we motorists need to protest against so many bike lanes being put on busy main streets. Let the bicyclist travel up the side streets.

Full disclaimer: I have been a bicyclist all my life. I have two bikes. But I also have enough common sense to know that the illusion of all these bike lanes is not a substitute for the use of common sense when traveling with vehicles that, upon collision, can kill me!

Love the News?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Austin Weekly News and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

1 Comment - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Josh Stillman from Chicago  

Posted: December 2nd, 2019 12:43 PM

Victim-blaming about the Carla Aiello and Lee Luellen bike fatality cases is extremely distasteful. Shame on you.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Austin Weekly News 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Austin and Garfield Park.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad