Today’s Headlines

  • RTA Chair Says Proposal for 1 Transit Supergency Is a Nonstarter (Sun-Times)
  • RTA Recommends Metra Renegotiate Deals With Freight Railroad Partners (Tribune)
  • RTA Sues 3 More Towns Over Alleged Sales Tax Scams (Crain’s)
  • Hearing About Washington/Wabash Super Station Tonight at Cultural Center (RedEye)
  • Police: 89-Year-Old Man Collapsed in Road, Dragged 3 Miles by Semi Driver (Tribune)
  • 5 Hurt in Bronzeville Crash (Tribune)
  • Woman Files Lawsuit Against Uber, Driver for Sexual Harassment (RedEye)
  • CPD Plans Drunk Driving Crackdown in Lakeview, Lincoln Park This Weekend (DNA)
  • Is Drinking Alcohol and Bicycling a Dangerous Mix? (HuffPo)

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  • Is drinking and biking unsafe? Only if you spill your beer! ::rimshot

    I think it probably makes sense for it to be illegal to prevent rampant abuse but I think it would be appropriate to have elevated levels allowed. If driving is 0.08, biking should have a limit of, say 0.15. (I know nothing about BAC levels, so if 0.15 is fall down drunk, then make it 0.12, or whatever a couple of drinks an hour would be). Or better yet, make driving zero-tolerance and biking 0.12 or whatever.

    Either way, i don’t think the laws for biking and drinking should be the same for driving because of the fundamental advantage of biking… a drunk a-hole on a bike probably can’t cause too much damage to anyone but himself. A drunk a-hole in a car can kill a lot of people and damage a lot of property. (A principle employed by South Dakota, according to the article.)

  • Chicago and Illinois already have rules that the police can enforce if they believe a person is bicycling drunk.

    There’s “public drunkenness or disorderly conduct”. John answered this question in Time Out a few years ago.

    http://www.mybikeadvocate.com/2010/09/time-out-on-drinking-and-bicycling.html

  • Thanks for the link. Who would have thought that Illinois would actually have a reasonable law regarding biking on the books?

    (Also, any article that uses the term “pickled pedaling” is a good one.)

  • rohmen

    I’m not advocating for classifying drunk cycling as a DUI (especially at a .08 level), but “public drunkenness” and/or “disorderly conduct” charges are a pretty nebulous offense to enforce and prove in relation to controlling drunk cycling. A person can be fairly intoxicated/impaired without demonstrating the type of observable conduct that would result in either of those charges.

    And while I agree drunk cycling is a much better alternative to drunk driving, the harm caused by a drunk cyclist getting in a collision is much greater than just damage to the cyclist alone. The person involved in the collision with the drunk cyclist also has to live with the effects–which can be dramatic if the cyclist is seriously hurt or killed.

  • Thanks! In the time since I wrote that piece, in which a bartender recommends throwing your bike in a taxi trunk instead of cycling home schnockered, the city’s bike-share system launched. If you’re planning on doing some serious drinking, the responsible thing to do is Divvy to the bar, then catch the CTA, a cab, or a ride with a friend home.

  • CL

    Yes, as a driver I feel I have a strong interest in not sharing the road with drunk cyclists, even though I’m not the one who would be hurt in a collision. The state also has an interest in preventing people from killing themselves, whether a drunk driver crashes into a tree or a drunk cyclist plows into a car. The penalty for harming others should be much worse, but just because the cyclist is the only victim, it doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal if drunk cyclists get hurt.

  • CL

    I’m glad the passenger did something about the sexual harassment she experienced. It sounds awful. I have been sexually harassed and asked out by cab drivers. but you always have the safety of being in the back. Being fondled by someone when he’s driving just sounds like a terrifying experience.

    This story is also good reminder that taking a cab doesn’t guarantee women’s safety. Women often get scolded when they want to take public transit home at night — I’ve had men beg me to let them call me a cab “for my safety” because they didn’t want me to take the bus or walk at night. But there’s no method of getting home that is 100% safe.

  • David Altenburg

    The HuffPro piece does one of my least favorite things: take a problem, describe that problem in the context of bikes, and now that problem is linked to bikes in people’s minds. The problem, in this case, being alcohol-related accidental deaths.

    It cites a study indicating that over nearly 25% of all cyclists killed were intoxicated. That indicates that drunken cycling must be a really big problem, right? Consider, however, this study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10339681) which finds that intoxication contributes to over 30% of all nontraffic related accidental deaths. In other words, intoxication (by the cyclist) is less likely to have played a role in a cycling death than in accidental deaths in general.

  • rohmen

    MADD’s statistics indicate drunk driving in Illinois played a role in 30% of traffic-related deaths in 2011, and 34% in 2012. Utah saw alcohol-related traffic deaths as low as 16%. Several states see alcohol-related traffic deaths at or very near 25%: http://www.madd.org/blog/2013/november/2012-drunk-driving-fatalities.html

    We treat drunk driving very seriously as a society (and with good reason IMHO), and the percentages appear to be really not all that far apart (assuming the 25% is a valid number, and I have no idea if that’s the case; nor do I have any idea in how many cases intoxication of the cyclist can be said to have played a role in the incident that lead to the cyclist’s death).

  • David Altenburg

    Understood, and I agree that’s it’s good to treat drunk-driving very seriously as a society. I do think that there’s a difference in drunk-driving in that you’re far more likely to harm others.

    The truth is, though, being intoxicated is an inherently dangerous state, and the author fails to make the case of why drunk cycling should be treated any differently than drunk walking (for instance).

  • Anna Schibrowsky

    I was always told, “Don’t get into a car with a stranger.” I feel a lot safer walking or biking under my own power or riding public transit with a fixed route and a bunch of other passengers than getting into a car … with a stranger.