Today’s Headlines

  • Claypool Pooh-Poohs Proposal to Combine Transit Agencies Under One Board (Sun-Times)
  • How’s the Red Line Running? (RedEye, DNA)
  • Signal Problems Briefly Stop Red Line Service at 63rd (Tribune)
  • Emanuel Calls for Higher Fines for Parking Infractions, Car Towing (Tribune)
  • Couple Killed in Glenview Garbage Crash Owned Korean Restaurant in Chicago (KoreAm)
  • Metra Trains Running After Semi Pulling Trailer of Cars Struck in Bartlett (Tribune)
  • Honorary Street Naming for Bobby Cann This Friday (Tiny Fix)
  • Divvy Spokesman Discusses the Company’s Winter Plan (CBS)
  • RedEye Calls for More Helmet Use by Cyclists, Rather Than Less Recklessness by Drivers

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Fred

    Less reckless driving doesn’t prevent wet leaves, sewer grates with wide openings, potholes, railroad tracks, etc. Wear your helmets, kids.

  • Anne A

    Helmets only go so far in protecting us from crashes with reckless drivers. We need to be discouraging reckless driving, not continuing to accept it.

  • They have wet leaves in the Netherlands and Denmark as well, and streetcar tracks are a major hazard in Amsterdam. In those countries, almost nobody wears a helmet for biking, but their bike injury and fatality rates are a fraction of ours. If we’re serious about reducing the number of people injured and killed on bikes, we need to follow those countries’ leads and not waste time nagging cyclists about helmet use, although it’s certainly a good idea under current Chicago conditions. We should instead nag the powers that be for better bike infrastructure and street conditions, education and enforcement of drivers, and bike-friendly traffic laws, which is the status quo in nations where cycling is safe and commonplace.

  • That RedEye piece about helmets is annoying and the superior attitude of you-must-wear-a-helmet is frankly getting old. This morning I took Divvy from the red line at Jackson to my office and I do not want to carry around my helmet for that short trip. On a longer trip I may wear my helmet. I don’t even understand my own logic behind when I put it on, but it’s usually when the roads are slick.

    How about a RedEye piece where they go around taking photos of drivers talking on their phones and other such dangerous behaviors and start addressing that behavior? Certainly a little more provocative than telling people to put on a helmet instead of addressing the reasons why people aren’t feeling safe on a bike in the first place.

  • Fred

    We’re never going to agree on this, but I’m going to keep posting it and you’re going to keep posting the same rebuttal.

    Screaming for better bike facilities is great. Ignoring the current reality is stupid. Why should’t we scream with helmets on?

  • Screaming for better bike facilities with a helmet on is fine. Screaming at other cyclists for not wearing helmets is not. That’s essentially what this RedEye piece is doing, calling riding a Divvy without a helmet “The dumbest thing on two wheels.” Certainly, if you’re going to ride without a helmet, a heavy, upright, slow, stable, highly visible Divvy bike is the best cycle to do it on. It’s a completely different type of riding than the speedy, aggressive “Premium Rush”-style pedaling the author says she fantasizes about.

  • Chicagio

    Anyone else kind of fearful about the CTA being combined with Metra and Pace? I think we saw with the Illiana that metra and pace don’t really know what they’re doing. I’d hate for that mentality to permeate the CTA. For all their shortcomings, the CTA has the hardest assignment and does it better than the other two.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I think Forrest Claypool noted that, if Chicagoans don’t like what the CTA is doing, they can vote out the mayor. Not so if the CTA is governed by a regional body.

  • CL

    At least this time they’re admitting that they’re trying to extract more money from drivers because of budget problems. $250 for a parking ticket is insane. Avoiding tickets is like a part time job, it takes so much vigilance and education. It’s very easy to mess up, and it shouldn’t cost more than a hundred dollars.

  • The $250 is only for parking in a disabled spot. That’s a pretty difficult thing to do by accident, and a true d— move.

  • Joseph Musco

    It’s nice to know that Claypool thinks Purple & Yellow Line riders should have no say in how CTA is run. It’s obvious that CTA leadership doesn’t actually take the CTA but has Claypool ever so much as looked at a CTA map? I guess disenfranchising 140K people is OK if those people interfere with your toadying.

  • CL

    It’s easy for a non-disabled driver to avoid parking in those zones by accident, but I’ve heard of disabled drivers parking in those zones because they thought their disabled placard qualified them to park there. It recently happened here in Rogers Park — a disabled woman didn’t realize the zone was assigned to a specific individual and not to any disabled person.

  • OK, that seems like a pretty specific, unusual situation, and I assume it would be pretty easy to successfully contest that ticket.

  • CL

    You must not have contested a parking ticket recently. “I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to park there” is definitely not an accepted defense.

    And I can’t imagine she is the only disabled person who has been confused — I’ve never lived in a place where the handicapped parking spot was assigned to a specific person until I moved here.

  • Peter

    even better… how about pictures of people riding their bikes and talking/using their cell phones? Those are the real winners :-)

  • I could be wrong here, but I’m guessing they cut some slack for drivers with disabilities.

  • Which would you rather be struck by, a cyclist talking on the phone or a driver?

  • I get that “premium rush” thing too, because it can be fun to get speed, although I’d argue that behavior is far more dangerous that not wearing a helmet while riding slowly on a Divvy bike. Those things are slow! I almost always feel safer on Divvy because I can’t go fast. It makes it easier to see more that’s going on – opening doors, cars coming out of alleys, etc. that can’t be seen when speeding down the street.

  • Anonymous

    I feel like the “Reserved parking permit xxxxxx” under the handicapped symbol makes it pretty clear that you need a specific permit in order to park there. I can understand the frustration of the person that had to pay the fine, but the situation also sucks for the handicapped person that relies on it and went through the trouble of having that space installed and pays $75 for the first year and $25 for each year after that so the space is maintained. While I have no data to back this up, I imagine the increase of $250 will punish drivers who aren’t confused and just parking there because they are lazy d-bags far more than it will punish legitimately handicapped people who fail to read the sign closely or don’t understand what “Reserved parking permit xxxxxx” means.

  • Anonymous

    It really doesn’t sound like you two are very far apart on the helmet issue. I think John’s main beef is with what the media considers “newsworthy”…and I wholeheartedly agree with him there.

  • CL

    I don’t think it’s clear at all, especially if you’re not familiar with how parking works in the city. If you’re not expecting it to be assigned to one person, you could read it as a type of permit and not “reserved for Fred Smith and nobody else.” It’s an easy mistake to make.

    And even if the signs were more clear, I think the current fine of $200 is more than enough. The woman who parked here by mistake (I just know about this because we had a big discussion about it on Nextdoor) was unemployed, and that amount was a hardship — she had just been trying to visit her sister in the city, and she didn’t understand the signs. $250 is even worse.

  • Fred

    Bikes should be impounded for using a phone while riding.

  • Judging from past discussions, Fred and I have a fundamental difference on this issue. He apparently feels that cycling is a fundamentally dangerous activity and that, even if dangerous drivers aren’t a factor, and you’re only cruising around at a moderate 10 mph commuting speed, one should always wear a helmet. I respect his opinion on that, just as I wouldn’t have a problem with someone wearing a helmet for their car commute, which, statistically speaking, might make more sense.

    However, in countries where there is good infrastructure for cycling, bike-friendly drivers ed and traffic laws, lots of cyclists on the road providing a safety-in-numbers effect, and other factors that make serious crashes unlikely, they have 17 times our mode share, few people wear helmets, and yet their injury and fatality rate is a mere fraction of ours. For that reason, I believe that when you take dangerous driving out of the equation, casual bike commuting is a safe activity and helmets aren’t necessarily needed.

    That’s why I’d much rather people focus on creating safer streets where helmets aren’t necessary than scolding other cyclists for not wearing helmets.

  • Let me know if you witness a bicycle using a telephone, and I’ll call Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

  • Fred

    A person using a phone while riding a bike should have their bike impounded.

    Better?

  • There you go. I might be willing to go along with that if we could have the same rule for motorists although, as I implied above, people using a phone while driving is a much, much, much bigger problem. 117 people were killed by drivers in Chicago in 2010. I don’t think anyone’s been killed by being struck by someone on a bike here for decades.

  • Fred

    I’m in for cars, too. You can now have your car impounded for throwing a cigarette out the window, so why not for the far more dangerous act of using a phone?

    Talking on a phone while riding may not be dangerous to other people, but it can be dangerous to yourself. How long until someone on a bike talking on a phone disobeys a traffic law and get clipped by a car and dies? I’d be shocked if the clock weren’t ticking on that one. Sadly I believe it will take a death to finally end the practice.

  • Peter

    I don’t think the issue is being struck by a bike…. i believe the issue is the person on the bike who is riding in la la land because they are on their phone. They swerve into traffic, they run stop signs (when it’s not an opportune time), and are all over the place (similar if not worse than you see with a car). I’m not saying i condone this behavior out of vehicle drivers either, just pointing out observations. Are you saying you would prefer to see a car accident caused by a car swerving to avoid a nin-come-poop biker on a phone? I’d prefer to see no one struck at all by anyone..Come on man…

  • I endorse the ordinance against cell phone use while pedaling – it’s had a positive influence on my own habits. I can think of one local case where talking on the phone while biking was a factor in the death of a cyclist: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-09-13/news/0709120692_1_cell-phone-cyclists-accidents

    However, as Randy Neufeld pointed out in this article, the cyclist’s cell phone use didn’t cause the crash. The death might have been easily avoided if the driver of the multi-ton garbage truck has been using more care and/or not speeding when turning right.

  • Anna Schibrowsky

    If Kate Bernot had bothered to do a little Googling, she could’ve written a positive article calling on bike-share users to demand a system like Boston’s HelmetHub vending machines instead of that piece of cyclist-shaming tripe.

  • I pointed out to her on twitter that BC has a helmet law and Vancouver’s upcoming bike share program will have machines that dispense helmets, and that’s the only NA system with such plans since they’re mandatory. But that solves a small part of the bigger problem which is that helmets do nothing to *prevent* the injuries/deaths in the first place, they just *might* make it better if it happens.

    She can write all she wants about helmets, but it’s an easy piece to write. I see that article as a bit lazy, personally.

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