By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
Driven in part (every pun intended) by the readership of the June 27 PRDude post offering strategies for the new Chicago electric scooter pilot program, I was prompted to address a similar topic: Thoughts on that other two-wheeled/non-motorized personal mobility mode — the bicycle.
Here, I put the focus on what I believe are three improper and downright dangerous cycling practices that need to be eliminated.
But first, a little history.
From the images that accompany this post, you can deduct that I am a cyclist. Not a daily bike commuter, just a weekend and sometimes-after-work cyclist. The road bike pictured here is a Raleigh Grad Prix I purchased with the money earned working at the Bravco health and beauty aids store in the early 1970s.
I obtained this 23.5 inch cycle from Turin Bicycles, which then was located on Clark Street in Lincoln Park. I recall the price was $115. It’s still a sweet machine and all original except for the seat, fork, gears, tires and rims. Okay, so the frame, brakes and handle bars are still original. But I have very fond memories of the miles logged on this bike, even the falls that resulted in a broken nose, a broken wrist and large gash on my right shin.
Now to my suggestions.
- The Overly-Connected Rider. There’s a time and place to check that email, Instagram or Pintrest account. Riding a bicycle is not one of them. What would compel a cyclist — or a motorist for that matter — to divert attention to a hand-held device while riding around town is beyond puzzling. It’s downright dangerous. Furthermore, the practice is stupid. If you need an incentive to put that handheld away while cycling, consider this: It’s illegal to talk on the phone or text while bicycling and the penalty is $20-$500.
- “Look Ma, No Hands!” Yes, it may appear really cool to ride with no hands, but only until you need to brake or swerve to avoid a pothole or another road impediment or getting “doored.” I’ve witnessed “no hands” cyclists peddling along quiet side streets and busy arterial thoroughfares like Western Avenue. And, I’ve observed a “hybrid” of sorts: The no-handed rider engaged with a handheld. Why is this practice considered acceptable?
- Put the Brakes on Fixies. As I understand it, a fixed-gear or “fixie” bicycle has no freewheel component — meaning one can’t coast on a fixie. And, some lack brakes. Let me repeat: Some fixed gear bikes don’t have hand brakes, requiring the rider to skid to come to a stop. Please explain how this type of cycle, which is designed for a velodrome, should be allowed on a public right-of-way.
If fellow cyclists need to refresh safe cycling practices, the Illinois Secretary of State produced this excellent “Bicycle Rules of the Road” document.
On this spectacular Sunday in Chicago, we’re planning to hitch our bikes to the car rack and bike one of the North Shore trails. Will be alert for a no-handed cyclist on a fixie checking his or her handheld.