Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Righteous Indignation

This morning I had another encounter with Alberto's Guy. He sped past me on the Green Bay Trail in a different Alberto's get up. He slowed after a while and I caught up to him in Wilmette. He came to a dead stop at a stop sign on Poplar and I zipped by him. I didn't bother greeting him this time because I doubted I'd get a friendly one in return. I continued south on Poplar to Lincoln in Evanston where Alberto's Guy probably turned at Isabella. Part of my pannier detached from my rack and I had to stop to reattach it.

Upon continuing along Lincoln I saw Alberto's Guy up ahead turning from Ashland. Further on the light was red at Ridge and he stopped again. Figuring "what the hell" I said "good morning" as I slowed and crossed Ridge. Nothing yet again. However about a quarter block later I thought I heard him yell something. After turning onto Sherman, Alberto's Guy passed me again but this time berated me for ignoring the red light and such behavior leading to hatred from motorists. So that's his beef; my casual disregard for the rules of the road. A red light at Foster provided a chance for us to discuss the matter further. I sputtered something in the neighborhood of admiring his stance but not willing to change mine all the while snaking through the red again. He shouted some other stuff at me while we biked on but the only things I could make out were "no justification!" and "stupid!" Thankfully another red light at Church Street blocked his path. Having no problem ignoring this one too, I was finally free of his proselytizing.

At first Alberto's Guy got me feeling guilty, thinking my lawlessness was contributing to mass bicyclist hatred. But then I thought, "does everyone hate jay walking pedestrian's too?" The only one I'm putting in danger is myself. And I don't make a habit of putting myself in danger in the first place since I'm not the type to thread myself through busy intersections. I actually do wait out reds if there is cross traffic. But once it clears, I'm gone. Illegal? Yup. Am I rationalizing? Possibly. But frankly who cares? Further, in my experience, Alberto's Guy is also in the minority. Not that it justifies running reds and stop signs. But it seemed he was militant on the issue strictly for my benefit. And If I remember correctly, he blew right through the four way stop intersection at Lincoln and Ashland after our paths diverged.

Biking on Clark in Chicago, Biking Mike once again caught up to me. It is very strange for me to encounter the same bicyclists so frequently. But I welcomed a friendly face. But Mike is much more casual with traffic laws than I am. So I can only imagine the dust up between him and Alberto's Guy. We came up to another bicyclist on a mountain bike wearing a jersey from a local bike racing team. The three of us biked together to Sheridan Road and I asked the guy if he'd raced in Evanston the past weekend. He said he hadn't but wished he had. Once on the Lakefront Trail I learned he was a Category 2 racer. I was feeling pretty good about myself being able to keep up with him. But around Diversey a roadie passed us and he shot off in pursuit. Biking Mike wryly remarked that it was nice of him to have taken it slow for our benefit.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3423.4 miles
Price of gas: $3.46

8 comments:

J said...

Here's my take on red lights - if I could safely cross them walking, I'll do it on the bike. The people who give cyclists bad images are the people who just blindly wander into intersections, or are just spacey when it comes to such things.

On a different note, one day I swear I'll get a good photo of you zooming down the lakefront path closer to the museums - I'm usually training in the mornings during weekdays and by 7AM, I'm climbing the hill on the lakefront path just north of Roosevelt (going north). I wonder if I could time it properly... hmmm...

Steve said...

J,
I'm not sure if that is me you're referring to as I probably don't get to that area until 7:15 to 7:30 am. But if the guy you are thinking of wears a junky gray helmet, a dark blue jersey, rides a black bike, and is panting and frothing at the mouth, then that could be me after all.

Chezhed270 said...

I should start by saying, I enjoy reading your blog. Part of this is because I lived and biked in Chicago for a couple of years and enjoyed heading down Harrison to the Buckingham fountain and catch the lake bike trail heading north to the beaches and Lincoln Park. However, you really should obey traffic laws whether you agree with them or not. If you think riders should only yield to red lights, then lobby to have the ordinances changed. Your indifferent attitude is part of the problem we have in society nowadays. You are unwittingly making it more difficult to get equal rights for bikes on the road.

Sean
Chezhed270@yahoo.com

Walter said...

Oh, THAT Alberto's guy. I've gotten the lecture, too.

Love the blog, keep it up.

Walter.

Steve said...

Chez,
First off I agree in principal. There is absolutely no justification for breaking the law. However in practice I do it because it makes my ride more tolerable and I get away with it.
I further rationalize by the fact that I do my best to not endanger or interefere with fellow bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

I have a 24+ mile ride with a loaded bike. If I came to a complete stop for every stop sign and red light it would make my commute intolerable and probably age my knees (my bike's shifting has historically been awful).

If or when I get ticketed I will gladly pay the fine. However when cops along my route turn a blind eye it only encourages my lawlessness.

If my actions set back the bicycling movement I apologize. Thanks for your kind words.

J said...

We probably totally pass each other - if I get off work later, I'm usually not up to the little hill until 7:20. You should buy that USMC jersey - then I'll recognize you. Haha. Of course I'm usually totally zoned out and starting to huff / hit anaerobic mode so I'm not really paying attention but cracks in the pavement and the insanity of errant rollerbladers.

If you see a guy in a six13 that's probably me. Reference:

http://media.bluemaggottowel.com/~hose/images/DSC_0532_346859.jpg

A Midnight Rider said...

Traffic lights are for control. If there is no traffic, there is nothing to contol and the worst thing that can possibly happen is that you upset another rider. My guess is that Alberto's guy posts on bikeforums.net. Lots of ediquite police there.

Kelvin Mulcky said...

I think that running red lights is a privilege earned by commuting by bike. Most people understand. People break traffic laws everyday, a lot of them do it habitually: using the bike lane for passing, passing cyclists without 3 feet clearance, not yielding when driving in a shared lane. These types of things happened daily during my commute.