Tale of Two Cities: Bicycling in Chicago and Los Angeles

richard_daley.jpgTwo news stories came across the wire yesterday that highlight vast differences in the way U.S. cities treat the use of bicycles for transportation. First, there was this story out of Chicago:

Chicago bicyclists, Mayor Daley (pictured right) knows your pain.

The mayor introduced an ordinance Wednesday that would slap fines ranging from $150 to $500 on motorists who turn left or right in front of someone on a bicycle; pass with less than three feet of space between car and bike; and open a vehicle door into the path of a cyclist.

Daley, an avid rider, said he personally has been involved in unhappy encounters with motorists, providing them with "a few choice words" and "salutes" that he said were delivered "in the Chicago way."

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Los Angeles:

Last night, a group of cyclists from throughout the LA area delivered the Bicyclist Bill of Rights to the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee and asked the members to deliver it to the Mayor and City Councilmembers.

After leaving the meeting (10:30 pm) the cyclists were riding on Virgil and approaching Melrose when four cyclists executed a "vehicular left turn" on the approach to a red light. The car to the rear and left continued to accelerate toward the red light and only yielded to the cyclists in control of the lane at the last moment, causing him to stop suddenly. The cyclists were riding in pairs throughout the left turn maneuver. Behind the cyclists was an LAPD Sgt. who looked at the incident and decided that the cyclists were impeding traffic, all on the approach to a red light.

He pulled over the cyclists, let the motorist go, called for backup and tied up an additional three squad cars and a helicopter while he lectured the cyclists on everything from "impeding" to pedal reflectors to the difference in weight between a bicycle and an automobile….

…As Enci told the Committee
members, "I was born in a Communist country with limited freedoms and
rights. When I moved the United States of America, I set foot on this
ground and I immediately took possession of basic rights and freedoms.
Why is it that when I climb on a bicycle I become a 2nd class citizen
and get treated as if I have no rights?
Those days end now and I’m
claiming my rights!"

Photo: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley unabashedly takes a spin on a Velib public bicycle in Paris, France.

  • and to think I left Chicago 6 years ago.

  • The story of cyclists being harassed by police is hardly a unique one here in LA, just check out the forums at midnightridazz.com where there are stories on cop harassment it seems almost daily.

  • in kansas it appears that bike hate is so strong that the petroleumers have resorted to building sculptures to express their feelings.
    http://platial.com/search/bike+hate/kansas (click on the first result)

  • Imagine the cognitive dissonance people must feel who have spent their whole life buying into the myth that paying hard earned cash to roll around inside some padded metal cage is freedom when they actually see people on bicycles who have it. Try to empathize with the anguish they must feel and Ride on! An FYI for all y’all in 16 years of cycling in the Inland Empire of SoCal, the 909, smog alley (thanks to LA automyopians) I have never once been stopped by an officer of the law for practicing effective cycling on my daily commute. Mayor Daley’s moves are fantastic please post a link to the statutes and we can get them adopted locally – and don’t forget to support these cool sites.
    http://www.bikeleague.org
    http://www.yieldtolife.com

  • ben

    Goes to show you need a voice for every transportation modual not and not go by the mojarity.

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