WBEZ | bikes http://www.wbez.org/tags/bikes Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How strictly do Chicago police enforce bike traffic laws? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-strictly-do-chicago-police-enforce-bike-traffic-laws-112992 <p><p>If you ride a bike, ask yourself: Do you stop at every stop sign? How about every red light? If the answer is no to either of those, well, technically you&rsquo;re breaking the law.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s the more egregious behavior from cyclists &mdash; weaving through cars, cutting people off, running red lights despite oncoming traffic &mdash; which our questioner,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-strictly-do-chicago-police-enforce-bike-traffic-laws-112992#lowy"> Chicagoan Ron Lowy</a>, sees all too often.</p><p>Sometimes he&rsquo;s even looked on as cyclists bike the wrong direction down a bike lane, no hands on the handlebars, while text messaging. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not making this up,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Lowy is a cab driver, usually considered the sworn enemy of bicyclists. But here&rsquo;s the thing: Lowy is also a dedicated cyclist. He commutes by bike almost everyday and rides for pleasure and exercise. But what he sees around him, at times, looks incredibly dangerous, enough for him to ask Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How strictly do Chicago police enforce bike traffic laws?</em></p><p>Getting an answer to Lowy&rsquo;s question matters because, for one, Chicago streets are not as safe as they could be. <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-bike-deaths-illinois-met-20141027-story.html">A 2014 safety report found that Illinois</a> had the fifth-highest number of bicyclist fatalities in the nation, a total of 29 in 2012, a steady increase from previous two years. In Chicago, the number of deaths of bicyclists has<a href="http://www.redeyechicago.com/news/local/redeye-fatal-bike-crashes-chicago-20150111-story.html"> surged in the past two years</a>, from three in 2013 to eight in 2014. It&rsquo;s a troubling shift the city&rsquo;s transportation commissioner calls &ldquo;significant.&rdquo; If one aim of bike traffic law is to prevent dangerous behavior on the part of bicyclists, it&rsquo;s fair to ask how often police nab offenders.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s another reason to consider how strictly the city enforces its bike rules: The city&rsquo;s encouraging residents to ride bikes and even commute by bike. If those long-term plans pan out, Chicago could see more and more bicyclists on the road, competing with cars and pedestrians for space.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Measuring enforcement</span></p><p>First, some bad news. Ideally, it would be best to answer Lowy&rsquo;s question with precise figures about how many bicyclists are on Chicago streets, then follow with an apples-to-apples comparison of how often police ticket riders versus how often they ticket motorists. The data we have in hand can&rsquo;t tell that story, but &mdash; and here&rsquo;s the good news &mdash; we did obtain data on how often the city enforces bike traffic laws and what types of behavior attract tickets.</p><p>Responding to<a href="http://llnw.wbez.org//bike%20laws%20CPD%20FOIA%20response%201.pdf" target="_blank"> our Illinois Freedom Of Information request</a>, the Chicago Police Department reports issuing 13,150 traffic-related tickets to bicyclers between 2006 and August of this year. &nbsp;(<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-strictly-do-chicago-police-enforce-bike-traffic-laws-112992#trends">Here are the trends</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-strictly-do-chicago-police-enforce-bike-traffic-laws-112992#type">breakdown by ticket type</a>)</p><p>What to make of this figure, though? Have the thousands of tickets issued by the CPD translated into an awareness of bike traffic enforcement?</p><p>To get a better sense of this, we head to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoCriticalMass">Critical Mass</a>, a monthly mass ride through downtown Chicago that doubles as a rally for greener modes of transport. There, we ask folks their impressions of bike laws and how the city enforces them.</p><p>Among the crowd, we ask a cyclist named Lily whether she&rsquo;d ever gotten a ticket on her bike.</p><p>&ldquo;No, you can get a ticket? I didn&rsquo;t know you could get a ticket,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>When asked what she thinks might warrant a ticket for a traffic violation, she provides a short list: &ldquo;Improper crossing? Improper turning? Running stop signs. Running over people?&rdquo;</p><p>(Yup, yup, yup, and yup. These are all ticketable.) &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TICKET%20DUO%20FOR%20WEB.png" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Michael Gilewicz got a $70 ticket at the intersection of Addison and Clark streets and carries it around with him. (WBEZ/John Fecile)" /></div><p>At the same Critical Mass event, we manage to find Michael Gilewicz, who got a $70 ticket at the intersection of Addison and Clark streets. The ticket is such a novelty to him that he carries it around, almost like a trophy. Whipping it out, he explains that he&rsquo;d gotten pulled over for speeding, biking against the flow of traffic and disobeying red lights. Michael says when the judge read off the list of infractions, he looked at her and laughed.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I was,&rdquo; he laughs.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org//bike laws indesign.pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rulestobikeby.png" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Continue to see our own version of Chicago's bike rules" /></a></div><p>The apparently low level of awareness of tickets or ticketing comes as no surprise to Ron Burke, the executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, a local organization advocating for better biking, walking and transit.</p><p>&ldquo;There is too little enforcement of traffic policies across the board in Chicago and even in the suburbs,&rdquo; Burke says. &ldquo;Whether that&rsquo;s the case for people driving, walking and even riding a bike.&rdquo;</p><p>Burke says that while well over 90 percent of traffic injuries and fatalities are caused by motorists, bike behavior factors in, too. It&rsquo;s important, he says, that we encourage good behavior across the board. And that, he adds, is done by enforcing the road rules and issuing hefty fines for those who don&rsquo;t follow them.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><a name="type"></a>When city police enforce bike laws, what are they targeting?</span></p><p>In Illinois, traffic laws apply to cyclists, so when CPD targets cyclists, it&#39;s for those state statutes as well as city ordinances that apply to bikes.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Number_of_reported_bicycle_violations_by_type%2C_2006-2015-__chartbuilder.png" style="height: 299px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Within the 9 years of CPD data available to us, &nbsp;the most frequent violation is <a href="http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Illinois/chicago_il/title9vehiclestrafficandrailtransportati/chapter9-52bicycles-operation?f=templates$fn=altmain-nf.htm$q=[field%20folio-destination-name:%279-52-010%27]$x=Advanced#JD_9-52-010">9-52-020, &ldquo;Riding bicycles on sidewalks and certain roadways.&rdquo;</a> (The ordinance covers riding on certain non-bikeable roads like Lake Shore Drive, but the vast majority of infractions involve sidewalks). Similar data obtained from Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Administrative Hearings show that over the past year, tickets for riding on the sidewalk are way up. In fact, between 2013 and 2014 sidewalk-riding violations more than doubled, to 4,467 from 2,082.</p><p>Burke says that while enforcement is lacking everywhere, when cyclists do get ticketed it&rsquo;s usually the riders who are doing the most dangerous types of riding.</p><p>&ldquo;Riding fast on a sidewalk in a crowded pedestrian environment,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Blasting through an intersection and potentially hitting a pedestrian.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><a name="trend"></a>A trend in Chicago&rsquo;s bike enforcement</span></p><p>In recent years, as the number for cyclists rise, Chicago and other cities around the country have started to ticket more frequently.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Number_of_reported_bicycle_violations_by_year%2C_2006-2015-_Amount_chartbuilder.png" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;" title="" /></div><p>The Chicago Department of Transportation and city police have been conducting stakeouts around the city, targeting intersections with high crash rates. There, they crack down on risky behavior of bicyclists and motorists.</p><p>CDOT and the police are conducting more and more of these safety stakeouts. According to CDOT data, they&rsquo;ve already hit a record so far this year: 126 stakeouts, with more than 2,000 warnings given to cyclists. The first year the city began recording the events, in 2011, they conducted just 62 such stakeouts. &nbsp;</p><p>Incidentally, some Chicago-area suburbs are seeing the same trend in enforcement. Several North Shore communities have also started cracking down on group cycling. This summer, from late July and into August, the <a href="http://www.cityhpil.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=429">Highland Park Police Department joined forces with four other city police departments</a> to conduct enforcement and education stops for cyclists and motorists. The action came after the departments received numerous citizen complaints about cyclists&rsquo; behavior along several well-traveled North Shore paths.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Fostering a cycling culture</span></p><p>As Chicago ramps up its bike enforcement, it&rsquo;s also encouraging more residents to bike. It&rsquo;s busy building a better cycling infrastructure with two-way bike lanes with their own traffic lights. It also launched <a href="https://www.divvybikes.com/about">the bike sharing program, Divvy</a>, and placed bike borrowing stations across the city.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr-chicago%20bicycle%20program%20infrastructure%20making%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago bicycling infrastructure is improving, but cyclists are often confused about bike laws. (Flickr/Chicago Bicycle Program)" /></div><p>Still, all this momentum raises the question: If the city is investing so much in a better biking culture, shouldn&rsquo;t it be even more explicit and consistent about what type of behavior it expects from cyclists?</p><p>Burke says it should and he credits the city for conducting the high-profile stakeouts. He says he&rsquo;s impressed with how much the city has increased them while at the same time including the ATA and their <a href="http://chicagocompletestreets.org/your-safety/education-encouragement/ambassadors/">Bike Ambassador program</a> in the stakeouts. This approach, he says, makes these enforcement actions educational as well.</p><p>But Burke also predicts that over time, more and more cyclists will follow the rules of the road. He chalks it up to &ldquo;pack mentality.&rdquo;<a href="http://www.ucdenver.edu/about/newsroom/newsreleases/Pages/More-cyclists-on-road-can-mean-less-collisions.aspx"> As more people bike, they are more likely to comply</a> with common sense safety and less likely to be influenced by the few rogue cyclists who choose to ignore the law.</p><p>&ldquo;You get more people on bikes. You actually start to get better behavior on average of cyclists,&rdquo; Burke says.</p><p>What&rsquo;s more, data suggest that<a href="http://www.cpr.org/news/story/some-cyclists-obey-laws-some-dont-cu-denver-researcher-wants-know-why?utm_source=Facebook&amp;utm_medium=Social&amp;utm_campaign=FBCPR5434"> better biking infrastructure also builds more complaint riders</a>. Just six months after the city built the two-way protected bike lanes on Dearborn Street, complete with their own traffic signals, compliance with red light traffic laws<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-10/classified/ct-met-getting-around-0610-20130610_1_cyclists-signals-bike-traffic"> was up 161 percent</a>, according to the city.</p><p><a name="lowy"></a>Our questioner, Ron Lowy, says he thinks despite the shiny new bike lanes, some folks will always choose to break the law. That is, until Chicago takes a stand.</p><p>&ldquo;They ride carelessly because they know they&#39;re not going to get fined for it,&rdquo; Lowy says of reckless cyclists. &ldquo;But the bottom line is you can&#39;t blame anybody but the city of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker%20FOR%20WEB_0.jpg" style="height: 394px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Questioner Ron Lowy at WBEZ. " /><span style="font-size:24px;">About our questioner</span></p><p>A self-described &ldquo;man about town dude&rdquo;, Ron Lowy is a musician, cab driver and bicycle advocate.</p><p>Lowy lives in Uptown, but drives his cab all around the city. And over the years, he&rsquo;s seen quite a few accidents of bicyclists hitting cars, cars hitting cyclists, cyclists hitting pedestrians. &ldquo;A majority of them,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;was not the car&#39;s&rsquo; fault.&rdquo;</p><p>Lowy agrees with the ATA&rsquo;s Ron Burke; more enforcement would make cyclists, pedestrians and motorists safer. But he is also more nuanced about whether bikes and cars should be treated as equals&mdash;subject to all of the same rules of the road.</p><p>&ldquo;Depending on the situation, bikes are a different story than cars,&rdquo; Lowy says. He believes crowded and highly trafficked thoroughfares should be tightly enforced. But side streets, during off peak hours when there is little traffic, not so much. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;d be lying if I said I never disobeyed the law,&rdquo; Lowy says. &ldquo;[But] I don&#39;t run red lights. I&#39;ll run neighborhood stop signs, but I slow down dramatically and look&hellip;common sense is a big part of this.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Meribah Knight is a freelance journalist in Chicago and reports for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow her at<a href="http://meribahknight.com"> meribahknight.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://www.twitter.com/meribah">@meribah</a>.</em></p><p><em>Curious City intern John Fecile provided research and reporting for this story.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-strictly-do-chicago-police-enforce-bike-traffic-laws-112992 New rules of the road possible for Chicago pedicab drivers http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.37.11 AM_0.png" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago pedicabs could soon have to follow new rules of the road, much to the dismay of many drivers. The City Council is set to vote Wednesday on a slew of new rules and regulations for bicycle rickshaws popular around Wrigley Field and downtown. It would be the first time the city sets any regulations on the growing industry.</p><p>Many pedicab drivers say they&rsquo;re for some regulation, but argue that the ordinance put forth by Ald. Tom Tunney (44) goes too far. Tunney&rsquo;s measure is years in the making, and requires pedicab drivers to get $250 annual licenses for their cabs, to buy insurance, post fare schedules, apply for &ldquo;chauffeur&#39;s licenses&rdquo; to drive the pedicab and other changes.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s the ban on driving on the downtown portion of Michigan Avenue and State Street, and rush hour restrictions in the Loop that has caused the most protest from drivers. At a joint City Council hearing Tuesday with the committees on License and Consumer Protection and Transportation and Public Way, many drivers testified that the bans would put a big dent in their finances, as downtown is not only where many of their patrons are, but it&rsquo;s where they want to be dropped off.</p><p>&ldquo;What health risk to pedicabs pose? What causes more traffic congestion - a double parked limousine? A 50 foot bus making a turn? Or a pedicab in a bike lane? Pedicabs should be part of the solution and not banned from downtown,&rdquo; Chicago Rickshaw owner Robert Tipton said.</p><p>Nikola Delic, owner of Nick&rsquo;s Pedicabs, is one of many drivers that argued that the ordinance discriminated against pedicab drivers.</p><p>&ldquo;If the horse carriages and cab drivers can pick up their fares in the downtown district, I don&rsquo;t see why the pedicabs wouldn&rsquo;t be able to do the same thing,&rdquo; Delic said. &ldquo;Because horse carriages are blocking the same amount of traffic as one pedicab [and] they&rsquo;re moving slower.&rdquo;</p><p>Drivers submitted a petition Tuesday with over 500 signatures. It requests that aldermen take the entire street restriction section out of the ordinance.</p><p>Tunney has said that he&rsquo;s open to changing portions of the ordinance, but the street ban is off the table.</p><p>&ldquo;The ordinance, I believe, will help legitimize the industry, increase public safety and improve the flow of traffic on our congested streets,&rdquo; Tunney said at the hearing. &ldquo;There are...many good and safe operators but we&rsquo;ve certainly had a few problems that this ordinance is designed to address.&rdquo;</p><p>Commissioner Luann Hamilton from the Chicago Department of Transportation said the department would support reducing the restrictions, and they aren&rsquo;t concerned by pedicabs riding on those streets.</p><p>Another sticking point for drivers is a rule that would cap at 200 the number of registered pedicabs allowed in the city. Drivers contest that this rule will kill off jobs, and that 200 is an arbitrary number, as there&rsquo;s no official measure for the number of pedicabs driving around the city. The ordinance would allow for the number to be changed by the licensing commissioner.</p><p>The ordinance sailed through the joint committee vote, with only two &quot;no&quot; votes from Ald. Ariel Reboyras and Ald. Brendan Reilly. Penalties for violating the act could range anywhere from $100 to $5,000, depending on the violation or number of infractions.</p><p>Other pieces of the ordinance:</p><ul><li>Drivers would have to get a doctor&#39;s note stating they&rsquo;re capable to operate a pedicab and pass a geography exam before receiving their &ldquo;pedicab chauffeur license&rdquo;</li><li>All drivers must be 18 or older</li><li>Pedicab operators must have a valid automobile driver&rsquo;s license - from Illinois or another state</li><li>Pedicabs aren&rsquo;t allowed on sidewalks</li><li>Pedicabs are only allowed to carry four passengers</li></ul><p>Tunney&rsquo;s ordinance does not set fares for pedicabs, regulate where they are able to park or designate certain places they can hang out and wait for fares.</p><p>If the ordinance passes the full City Council Wednesday, the new rules and regulations would take effect by June.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-23d1776b-b381-d33a-af9d-cc36336fa4bd"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 Is biking in Chicago a risky proposition? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/biking-chicago-risky-proposition-108762 <p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F112494856" width="100%"></iframe>Motti Pikelny would fall in the group of people who are maybe less averse to risk than others. He used to pilot glider planes in competitions. Yet, the Oak Park resident won&rsquo;t commute to work by bicycle because he </span><em>thinks</em> it&rsquo;s too risky.</p><p>So, Pikelny turned to Curious City with this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How dangerous is it to bicycle commute in the city?</em></p><p>Pikelny would like to commute by bike for economical and environmental reasons. In fact, he has competed in century rides &mdash; 100-mile bike races &mdash; when he lived in Oregon. But the safety factor stops him from pedaling to work.</p><p>He wanted us to approach the question from a statistical viewpoint. He wanted to know the dangers of biking in Chicago as compared to other modes of transportation (i.e., motorcycles) or recreational activities (i.e., skydiving).</p><p>We talked to a lot of experts, all of whom said the same thing: This question is impossible to answer, but they all gave different reasons for why. Some say there&rsquo;s not enough data. Others argue quantifying danger is subjective. Along the way, we learned how the decision to bike or not bike can be a heavy one &mdash; with or without key stats to help.</p><p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">There are data, but are they the </span><em>right</em> data?</strong></p><p>Many municipalities, including Chicago, as well as the state of Illinois, record bike injuries and deaths involving crashes with motor vehicles. In April 2010, the city of Chicago began tracking &ldquo;dooring&rdquo; incidents (fatal and non-fatal), as well. That&rsquo;s when a driver or passenger opens a car door in the pathway of a biker and a crash occurs.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s some recent data from the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding bike injuries and deaths involving crashes with cars in Chicago.</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>2011: 1,302 bike injuries and seven deaths</li><li>2010: 1,583 bike injuries and five deaths</li><li><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">2009: 1,402 bike injuries and six deaths.</span></li></ul><p>In 2011, there were 336 dooring crashes in Chicago.</p><p>This kind of data is important but it doesn&rsquo;t go far enough, said Jen Duthie, a researcher at the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research. Duthie is a bike commuter and gathers bike data.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">What&rsquo;s unknown is the number of bikers on the road and how far they travel, said Steven Vance, author of </span><a href="http://chi.streetsblog.org/">Chicago Streetsblog</a>, a bike advocate and local data wizard.</p><p>Also, no data are collected on pedestrian-versus-bike crashes in Chicago or incidents where bikers collide with other cyclists.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m more scared of hitting a pedestrian on the phone than getting doored,&rdquo; said Thea Lux, a Groupon employee who commutes daily during the summer months.</p><p>Often, Lux said, people are talking on a cell phone and not paying attention as they walk into intersections.</p><p>Researchers and policy makers can make generalizations about biking danger on a per capita basis by looking at the number of crashes that occur and Chicago&rsquo;s population. But it&rsquo;s not an accurate reflection of bike safety here. Vance said it&rsquo;s impossible to say how likely a person is to crash on their bike.</p><p>Plus, Duthie added, near misses are not recorded, even though avoided crashes shape opinions on whether biking in Chicago is safe.</p><p><strong>When data don&rsquo;t help</strong></p><p>&ldquo;In my personal experience, it&rsquo;s slightly dangerous but mostly harrowing mentally,&rdquo; Vance said of biking in Chicago. &ldquo;The likelihood that you&rsquo;ll get into a crash, I believe, is quite low but I don&rsquo;t have data to prove that.&rdquo;</p><p>Harrowing, that is, because of all the near misses that scare bikers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TouringCyclist.jpg" style="float: right; height: 324px; width: 370px;" title="Bike infrastructure may be placed in areas that are most convenient instead of areas that are most dangerous to bikers, suspects Steven Vance. (Flickr/TouringCyclist)" /></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">Vance launched a blog in May called </span>Close Calls, which allows Chicagoans to record their near-crash biking experiences.</p><p>But Vance, ultimately, doesn&rsquo;t care how dangerous it is to bike in Chicago. Unlike Pikelny, he&rsquo;s already decided to commute by bike. That&rsquo;s not a question, in his mind, at least. What&rsquo;s more important to Vance is identifying specific intersections or stretches of roads that are the most dangerous &nbsp;&mdash; and fixing them.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">His other outlet, </span>Chicago Streets Blog, pre-ordered a counter to track the number of cars and bikes passing through certain intersections. The city tracks that information in some cases, but he says his blog purchased the counter because the city wasn&rsquo;t getting him the data when he asked for it.</p><p>Vance wants to make the data available to the public, with the ultimate goal being to identify the most dangerous intersections and stretches of road in Chicago. He finds that bike infrastructure is often constructed in areas that are convenient, but not necessarily areas that bikers consider the most dangerous.</p><p>But even with all the bike data in the world, determining danger &mdash; or in this case, risk &mdash; is still impossible.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">David Ropeik, instructor at Harvard and author of </span>How Risky Is It Really: Why Our Fears Don&rsquo;t Always Match Our Facts, says risk is subjective.</p><p>&ldquo;We delude ourselves about some risk that is higher than they actually feel by saying, well, my general feeling about this from my experience, from what I&#39;ve heard and read is that this won&#39;t happen to me,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>What that means is that biking in Chicago may seem dangerous to one person but may seem less to another.</p><p>And sometimes impressions change.</p><p><strong>What once seemed safe</strong></p><p>Catherine Bullard never thought that biking in Chicago could be fatal.</p><p>That was before Bullard, a biker, received an urgent Facebook message late one night from her boyfriend&rsquo;s roommate. It said please call when you can.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2953269838_fc23f067a8_z.jpg" style="float: left; height: 241px; width: 360px;" title="This is an example of a ghost bike, which memorializes bikers who have died on the road. (Flickr/rocketlass)" />&ldquo;Without even thinking about it I knew that Bobby had been in a cycling accident, but I didn&rsquo;t think for a second that he was dead,&rdquo; said Bullard, who recounted her story to us while standing near the intersection of Larrabee Street and Clybourn Avenue &mdash; the same spot where her boyfriend, Bobby Cann, died biking home from Groupon where he worked. Cann, Bullard said, was an avid, safe cyclist.</p><p>Cann was struck around 6:30 p.m. by a driver who was allegedly drunk at the wheel. Cann was wearing a helmet.</p><p>&ldquo;He was so, so safe,&rdquo; Bullard said. &ldquo;He knew hand signals I didn&rsquo;t even know.&rdquo;</p><p>Bullard hasn&rsquo;t biked to work since Cann&rsquo;s death. She&rsquo;s conflicted about biking now. She never used to worry about getting hurt on a bike.</p><p>Now she wonders: How is it that something that once seemed safe &mdash; especially for those who followed all the rules &mdash; now doesn&rsquo;t?</p><p>She wants to get back on the road. And she will. She&rsquo;s determined. Except, for now, biking just seems too risky.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of it is being afraid of what might happen, which I hate,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I hate that that is an impulse of mine and he would hate it, too.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Perspective from a biking community</strong></p><p>Again, the hard comparative data that our questioner Motti Pikelny wanted isn&rsquo;t available, so we reached out to riders to get qualitative perspectives. The goal was to get some perspective from bikers on the ground. What do they see? What do they experience? Riders we spoke with agree that Chicago is becoming more bike-friendly in the sense that biking is gaining a higher profile and the city&rsquo;s adding new bike lanes.</p><p>We found one particularly interesting set of riders at the Chicago headquarters of Groupon, the daily deals service. The office, located on the near North Side, has a robust biking community; among other things, it&rsquo;s a regular participant in the annual Bike To Work week. According to the &nbsp;Active Transportation Alliance, the event last year had 7,000 participants citywide.</p><p>As Groupon editor Sandy Kofler told us, just several years ago she was nervous about riding her bike on some downtown streets &mdash; enough that she would put her bike on the train, ride one stop, and then get off and resume her ride.</p><p>The addition of bike lanes since then has helped a lot, she said.</p><p>Today Kofler bikes to work, taking one of two routes to work from her home in Humboldt Park; the one she frequently rides has fewer bike lanes than the other, but at least she can avoid having to make two scary left turns.</p><p>When it comes to biking in Chicago, she said, &ldquo;The safe ways are safe but they take longer.&rdquo;</p><p>To get even more perspective, we recently solicited volunteers from Groupon to&nbsp;<a href="#GrouponLogs">log their bike routes</a> for three days. Consider these logs as anecdotes of what its like to pedal in the bike lane &hellip; or in some cases, the shoulder of the road.</p><p><strong>The takeaway</strong></p><p>I reported my findings &mdash; the limited data, the wealth of anecdotes &mdash; back to Pikelny, who wasn&#39;t that surprised that there&rsquo;s no answer to his question. It is, after all, what he suspected after he finished his own surface research.</p><p>That being said, though, he hopes for better data collection in the future. That would be good, he said, for him as well as others who are contemplating whether to bike commute at all. And that would be helpful, too, for people like Bullard, who could at least lean on firm data to help decide whether to put her feet back on the pedals.</p><p><em>Chelsi Moy is a Curious City intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/chelsimoy" target="_blank">@chelsimoy</a>.</em></p><p><a name="bike logs"></a><a name="GrouponLogs"></a><font color="#04B4A"><strong>*Click on a person to view his/her bike log.</strong></font></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="1300" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/September/Bike+Safety/BIKE+CODE+4.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Correction: A caption misspelled the name of a Chicago blogger and developer. The correct spelling is Steven Vance.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/biking-chicago-risky-proposition-108762 Chicago's unwritten rules http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/chicagos-unwritten-rules-107481 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr%3AKevin%20Zolkiewicz.jpg" title="CTA passengers board the Pink and Green Line trains at Morgan. (Flickr/Kevin Zolkiewicz)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">A recent <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/unwritten-rules-everyone-needs-to-follow" target="_blank">Buzzfeed</a>&nbsp;article, &quot;33 Unwritten Rules Everyone Needs to Follow,&quot; reads like the internal dialogue that causes many of us to roll our eyes and shake our fists at the sky on a daily basis.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For example, Rule 15: &quot;Put things back where you found them,&quot; a common courtesy that I found woefully lacking when I was restocking bookshelves at Borders every night until the break of dawn.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Also, Rule 19: &quot;Hold the door when you walk in after someone,&quot; which surprisingly few people bother to do.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now that I live in Chicago (and no longer <a href="http://www.city-data.com/forum/shopping-consumer-products/640193-share-your-stories-nightmare-customers.html" target="_blank">work in retail</a>,&nbsp;hallelujah!) I have noticed a particular set of &quot;rules&quot; to city life that most people follow without thinking, such as sitting in the window seat of a train or bus during peak travel times and calling out &quot;On your left!&quot; before passing other cyclists on the lakefront path.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">However, an aggravating few remain&mdash;like the guy who stands on the left side of the escalator when you&#39;re already late for work, or the woman who rolls her shopping cart full of groceries into the express lane&mdash;to blatantly defy such rules whenever they can.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>So without further ado, here is my list of Chicago&#39;s unwritten rules (some inspired by the comments on a Facebook status from WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift" target="_blank">Afternoon Shift</a>&nbsp;producer Justin Kaufmann in relation to this article, and others drawn from my own experiences as a city-dweller):&nbsp;</p><ul><li><a href="http://www.styleforum.net/t/275016/subway-and-public-transportation-etiquette-the-people-we-encounter" target="_blank">Let people off the train</a> before you get on, keep your bags off the seats and move to the back of the bus <em>before</em> the driver has to yell at you. &nbsp;</li><li>Do not talk on your phone or listen to music&nbsp;on full-blast while taking public transit. Everyone will hate you.</li></ul><p><em>&nbsp; Note: The <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130121/chicago-citywide/voice-of-cta-actor-from-milwaukee-chicago-legend" target="_blank">CTA voice</a>&nbsp;tells us many of these things; but apparently, people do not listen to him.&nbsp;</em></p><ul><li>Walk with a purpose. Getting stuck behind a <a href="http://jezebel.com/5967553/fuck-you-slow-walkers" target="_blank">slow walker</a> is the worst. Also, do not take up the whole sidewalk by linking arms with your friends. This isn&#39;t the Yellow Brick Road.&nbsp;</li><li>Look out for bikes before opening your car door.</li><li>If you <a href="http://peopletakingpictureswithipads.tumblr.com" target="_blank">hold up your iPad</a>&nbsp;to take a picture, expect another person to take a picture of you on their phone and then post it on Instagram to make fun of you.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/11/26/video_why_you_dont_put_ketchup_on_c.php" target="_blank">Never ask for ketchup</a> on your Chicago-style hotdog.</li><li>Pick a team. You can&#39;t root for the White Sox and the Cubs. You must choose.&nbsp;</li><li>Remember that the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.billygoattavern.com/legend/our-history/" target="_blank">Original Billy Goat</a> is hallowed ground. They will never serve fries there, so please stop complaining about it.&nbsp;</li><li>Do not ask for a &quot;tall&quot; at an <a href="http://dannierae.hubpages.com/hub/Coffee-Shop-Controversy-Starbucks-vs-Indie-Shops" target="_blank">indie coffeeshop</a>. The baristas will know that you meant &quot;small,&quot; but they will still judge you.&nbsp;</li><li>Tip your bartenders well on the first round. They will remember you.</li><li>If you secretly like LeBron James and the Miami Heat, do not say so in public.&nbsp;</li><li>It&#39;s called the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/12/sears-tower-to-be-renamed_n_174258.html" target="_blank">Sears Tower</a>.&nbsp;</li></ul><p>What are some other &quot;unwritten rules&quot; that you believe every Chicagoan should follow?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/chicagos-unwritten-rules-107481 Global Activism: World Bicycle Relief http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-world-bicycle-relief-107526 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/world bikes bigger.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On our Global Activism segment we meet Frederick &quot;F.K.&quot; Day and Leah Missbach Day of World Bicycle Relief, which they started after the tsunami in 2005. F.K. is now the organization&#39;s president, and Leah is its official photographer. They have seen how bikes can bring access to healthcare, education, and jobs. World Bicycle Relief has put 127,892 bikes into the hands of people who need them. Their goal is to transform people and their communities through the power of bicycles.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F92533588" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 10:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-world-bicycle-relief-107526 Ask Me Why: Cars vs. bikes http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-cars-vs-bikes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Andrew Ciscel photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Only around 1% of Chicago residents bike regularly for transportation. Some cyclists see themselves as an embattled minority, fighting for a safe space on roads that were not designed with them in mind. Some drivers see cyclists as a nuisance, flouting traffic laws and putting themselves and others at risk. But do cyclists deserve the same rights as cars on the streets of Chicago? That&rsquo;s the question in this next installment of <a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a>, our series of recorded conversations that explore the personal experiences and stories that shape our beliefs. Each installment of <em>Ask Me Why</em> pairs two people who know each other and disagree on some issue, asking them to share what's at the root of why they believe what they believe.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In this case, Dan Schleifer and Rich Beckmann are friends who met through their shared interest in cooking. They see eye to eye where food is concerned, but they disagree on their preferred modes of transportation. Dan sold his car when he moved to Chicago from rural Virginia and bikes to work daily. He&rsquo;s been hit by a car more than once and is angry that drivers so often disregard his safety. Rich sees biking on the street as inherently dangerous and drives to get around. He gets upset when he sees cyclists disregard the traffic laws he himself must obey.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the audio excerpt posted above, Dan and Rich share stories of what they&rsquo;ve witnessed and experienced on the streets of Chicago. Their conversation is a good reminder that not every difference of opinion can be resolved through talking, but that hopefully something good comes from trying to understand the other person&rsquo;s perspective.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Ask Me Why</em> is produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form <a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why">here</a>.</div></p> Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-cars-vs-bikes