Meet Logan Square Driver, the Steven Colbert of the Safe Streets Movement

alg_angry_driver
This man is *not* Logan Square Driver.

Last week I noticed an odd comment on my post about Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to tweak the universally despised parking meter deal, including the introduction of free Sunday parking in outlying neighborhoods in exchange for longer metered hours downtown. After a River North resident wrote in to complain that parking rates are already high in his district, someone responded calling themselves Logan Square Driver, with a “Stop the War on Cars” stop sign for an avatar.

“Agreed,” LSD wrote. “Even though I don’t live there, my friends in River North moved there for the abundant parking and ease of car-ownership. If they had wanted a walkable neighborhood with abundant public transit and bike-friendly streets, they would have moved to some communist country!” After scratching my head, I responded that I assumed LSD was being ironic, since River North, located a stone’s throw from the Loop, actually is a walkable neighborhood with great transit access and several streets with bike lanes.

On closer inspection, Logan Square Driver appears to be a brilliant send-up of cranky pro-car, anti-bike types like local columnists John Kass and Mark Konkol, as well as auto-bound Chicagoans like the folks who made so much noise at last week’s meeting on the Milwaukee bike lane proposal. Much like political satirist Steven Colbert’s absurdly conservative TV persona skewers the Right, LSD is lampooning self-centered motorists who think convenient driving conditions are more important than safe streets for pedestrians and bicyclists.

LSD has been been tweeting sporadically since September at @LoganSqDr. Here’s a typical tweet:

Last week LSD launched a new Tumblr blog that further showcases his or her Jonathan Swift-like wit, as well as what seems to be a thorough knowledge of transportation history, urban planning issues and other topics near-and-dear to Streetsblog readers. In the five wickedly clever essays posted so far, the author raises a call to arms to “True Warriors,” AKA motorists, against the fictional bike, pedestrian and transit menace. LSD suggests strategies like ridiculing young people who are too foolish to choose an “adult” transportation mode, and railing against the dangers of scofflaw cyclists, when everybody know autos are to blame for the carnage on our streets. Here’s a sample:

Decades ago, we set aside road space and said, “This space belongs to automobiles”. We decided the pedestrians are free to use that space, as long as they defer to cars – as long as they “look both ways before crossing the street” and refrain from crossing when cars are approaching. We enshrined this decision into law, designating pedestians who would ignore it “jaywalkers”. “Where did bicycles fit into this?”, you may ask. Don’t be silly. Bicycles were and are for children and triathletes. The idea that somone on a child’s toy, dressed like a superhero, would expect to be the equal of an adult who has paid for his own automobile, is so absurd that we did not even coin a term like “jaywalker” for those who would try to undermine the chosen order.

I don’t know for sure who Logan Square Driver is, but I’m confident it’s someone well-known in Logan Square’s burgeoning transportation advocacy community. Hopefully the author will unmask herself or himself at Wednesday’s Streetsblog Reader Meetup, 5:30 – 9 p.m. at Haymarket Brewing, 737 West Halsted.

  • Dan Sinker in another guise? ;)

  • Guest

    Reminds me of Streetfilms’ Veronica Moss: http://www.streetfilms.org/meet-veronica-moss-auto-lobbyist/

  • Very disturbing.

  • ICYDK, Dan Sinker wrote the clever @MayorEmanuel twitter feed during the last mayoral election: https://twitter.com/MayorEmanuel.

  • I don’t think this is his area of expertise, although he is a good writer.

  • Jakub Muszynski

    If this guy turns out to be serious and not sarcastic, let me refer you to a reckless driver I encountered and video recored today.

    http://youtu.be/i7Jr37KjyxU

  • CL

    Obviously I am biased since I drive and don’t bike — so okay, I’m the target — but I don’t think the Logan Square blog is funny, or that it’s a fair representation of how drivers think. Some people have come to resent cyclists, but it’s because of people like this who portray drivers as evil and careless. There really is a “war on cars” — and you can argue that it’s a good thing, but it’s not stupid for people to be concerned about a movement to make their chosen mode of transportation unaffordable and inconvenient. One could write a similar parody of how cyclists talk about drivers, and it would be just as unfair. I just really don’t think this helps at all. But whatever, if he wants to spend his time doing this, it’s a big internet.

  • Brian

    I always laugh when someone says bikers dont pay for their bike lanes. Where do their taxes go then? Its not a great argument.

    Each side has a small percentage of their population that drives/bikes terribly or selfishly that gives the entire group a bad image resulting in both sides constantly attacking each other over those few people.

    Sure, cars have had it pretty nice for a long time. I do believe that we should take away some parking and road space and transfer it to bikers and pedestrians. Remember, driving is not a right, it is a privilege. That also mean, every driver does not have the right to a parking spot.

    Please do not get me wrong when I talk about rights and privileges, biking is not a right, it is a privilege. This war on cars is obvious on both sides. Car receive major projects annually that are very expensive, and often only improve transportation to make it marginally more convenient. When a road experiences a road diet to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, it is viewed as an attack. Then with bikers, when they dont stop at a stop sign, ride ‘too far’ away from parked cars and too close to cars in the travel lane, a verbal battle ensues.

    Safety should come before convenience when debating whether or not to install a bike facility that might remove some parking. There is no stopping people from biking in cities. And there is no stopping people from driving in cities. We need to be able to give and take a little to create a safer environment to ride a bicycle and drive a car in that will limit auto-bike interactions. This will create less stress drivers experience when getting annoyed at biker and vice versa. Not to mention a safer environment for bikers, pedestrians, and automobiles.

  • single occupancy automobile usage does need to be made more inconvenient and unaffordable, though. the government already subsidizes it heavily and pedestrians and transit users bear an uneven burden to repair road damage caused by unnecessary car usage.

  • CL

    I do see those points, and agree that we need to move in that direction. But I also think it’s understandable that people who currently don’t find the other options feasible have concerns about the movement to reduce driving through sticks (making it unaffordable and inconvenient). It doesn’t mean they’re selfish idiots who fit the stereotypes in the Logan Square blog.

  • Choosing an extremist lunatic is not representateive of the anti-bike lane side. A more balanced commentary questioning the bike lanes is found on the Second City Cop blog. The coppers there believe the protected bike lanes will be ripped up by snowplows and the six figure price tag per block seems expensive for use by a few they say.

  • Would anyone watch Steven Colbert if his onscreen persona offered balanced commentary?

  • Fbfree

    I’d like to think of Logan Square Driver not as a personage, but as the personification of a set of ideas or shallow perceptions that we can fall into the trap of believing. I find LSD quite funny and I’d probably find a similar parody of “cyclists” funny. We do have to be careful not to apply this caricature to an actual person.

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