The State of Illinois Will Start Tracking Bike Doorings, But It’s Web Commenters I’m Afraid Of

An extremely modest proposal by the state of Illinois to start noting when and where bicyclists get doored by parked cars brings out the usual chest-puffing from the anti-bike brigade.

ghost bike chicago

I can’t help it. Whenever an article about some modest improvement in the lives of bicyclists is published, in this case news that the state of Illinois is going to start tracking when bicycle accidents involve doorings, the comments section will inevitably be filled with vitriol, and I can’t help but read it. There’s no other public forum in which people wish death on their fellow citizens like the comments to a story about biking. And I find it grimly fascinating, like a moral gapers block.

If they are dumb enough to ride their bikes in traffic, they deserve to get run over.

Also, if you are one of those parents that trailer your children behind you on your bike you should be sterilized and your kids should be turned over to the state.

Yes, cyclists have the right to put themselves in harms way and become organ donors.  Many people out there will thank you for your generosity.

I thought we were supposed to see how many we can clip by dooring. Glad I read this article. :)

I did however say that if they are dumb enough to ride in traffic, they should expect to be the one’s who get splattered.

I have absolutely NO sympathy or support for bike riders.  I have NEVER seen one stop at a Stop sign/light.  They deserve what they get…simple as that!

It’s just a data subset! Everybody calm down!

I’m always mystified by these supposed hordes of bicyclists blowing through stoplights and stop signs. Yes, it happens*. But I see more infractions walking a couple blocks north on Michigan Avenue by pedestrians than I do in a week or a month of riding along my fellow bicyclists: people constantly cross the east-west streets when the light turns green against the no-walk signal, stranding some driver who’s just trying to follow the turn signal.

Which, I have to admit, makes me slightly more sympathetic to the anti-bike brigade. Damn you, pedestrians!

By the way, credit should be given to local blogger, biker, and activist Steven Vance, who was on the lack of data about doorings slightly before the Trib. He’s regularly doing interesting work with bikes and public data, and is worth following if you’re interested in either.

* Perhaps my own version of the I’m-OK-You’re-Not-OK tendency is to blame bike messengers for this instead of commuters. Of which I think there’s at least circumstantial evidence:

Consider, for example, the chilling economy with which Culley, using the passive voice to startling effect, evokes the solipsistic interior world of the true sociopath: “We [messengers]…can penetrate a crowd like it was a puff of smoke. There is no fear.”

Mr. Culley: for your information, there is fear. You know those unhip, ungroovy, slow-moving bipeds, crowds of which you “penetrate like smoke” on your bicycle? They feel fear. Not that I’d expect a two-wheeled “rock star” like yourself to give a toss.

That’s in response to a 2001 Reader story about bike messengers and messenger/author Travis Culley, who received some notoriety for his book The Immortal Class. And who presented himself as the stereotype of the noxious biker: “An intersection burnt by a courier should herald cheers from cops, motorists and pedestrians alike. It is the clearest expression of a messenger’s technique.”

It’s worth pointing out here that this is no more representative of the average commuter biker than the taxi driver’s experience is representative of the average driver, yet in popular perception they’re one and the same. And I’m entirely willing to give bike messengers some space, since I’m in their workplace, just as much as I’m in the cabbie’s or the bus driver’s workplace when I’m walking, biking, or driving. But most of us are just trying to get around without getting killed.


Photograph: Payton Chung



3 years ago
Posted by DrNeato

Commuter biker here. I try and always pay attention to road traffic. I'll be the first to admit that I go though stop signs when there aren't any cars, or while 'shadowing' a car going the direction I am.

The only time I ever fear for my life is riding down the smaller streets (ie Southport Ave) where people are just not paying any attention at all. I ride year-round and for some reason as soon as rain falls no one looks out for us. I don't mind not really being seen while you (the car) is in motion too - I'd much rather folks learn to check if we are coming doing the miniscule space made for us while going to work (yes some of us have real jobs), going to a meeting, or going to a bar, etc.

Drive and ride safe, I hate to see car accidents just as much as I do bike accidents.

(also to Columbia College students - please pay attention to the cross walk on Harrison)

3 years ago
Posted by paytonc

They don't just "wish death on their fellow citizens," they wish cruel and unusually torturous death penalties -- akin to a medieval execution -- to be meted out for mere traffic infractions. I wonder whether these people had absent grandmothers.

That said, such penalties never seem to be called for wherever drivers widely flout traffic laws -- instead, such laws get repealed, even when that costs lives. I recently yielded to a pedestrian, who then proceeded to lecture me about why I should have stopped instead. I asked "oh, so I assume that you never speed, ever, right?," to which she began to get huffy and defensive: "Don't be a cop!" Whateverrr.

3 years ago
Posted by Dan Korn

Good post. I'm also continually surprised by the sheer volume of anti-bicycling sentiment, even if the number of anonymous Internet blowhards who post to those comment sections doesn't accurately reflect the majority.

I would change the sentence after the asterisk to: "But I see more infractions walking a couple blocks north on Michigan Avenue by motorists than I do in a week or a month of riding along my fellow bicyclists: drivers constantly speed, fail to yield to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and run 'orange' lights." On other roads, it's easy to find cars parked in bike lanes, running stop signs, and, of course, speeding even more.

This isn't to say that two wrongs make a right, or to turn this into a contest about who breaks more laws. As you say, despite all the sanctimonious vitriol on the Internet between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists, "most of us are just trying to get around without getting killed." But of between these three groups, only one is actually endangering the lives of everyone else, and themselves. And it's not cyclists.

We hear a lot of stories about "reckless" cyclists, but actual instances of cyclists causing injuries are exceedingly rare. I'm sure that doorings are much more common. But we need reliable statistics, not anecdotes and conjecture. That's why this is important, so that the discussion, and ultimately the policy, is based on facts.

Submit your comment