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Kass Pens Another 'Little Bike People' Column

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 10, 2013 7:30PM

Photo Credit: Matthew Hardman

We know when Tribune columnist John Kass writes a column about bicyclists he’s trolling and yet we can’t turn away, such is the power of his ignorance and the heavy handed nature of his argument.

The Teabagger of the Commuter Class was in rare form in his Thursday column, where he initially crowed that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed fine hikes for bicyclists who break traffic laws was a sign of the chickens coming home to roost. (As always, Kass’s columns are best read aloud with a voice similar to Looney Tunes’ Abominable Snowman.)

I tried to warn you months ago, but you didn't listen. Instead, you got your bike shorts tied up in knots. You made with the personal insults against me. You ridiculed my waistline and said I'd look terrible in spandex shorts.

Happy now?


I figure that's only the beginning. And this is how it will end: with bike tolls, bike registrations, bike transponders and bicycle vehicle stickers. And they'll all cost you.

Had Kass stopped there we may have ignored it and moved on. But he went on to opine on the proposed increase in fines for motorists involved in doorings. And that’s where he crossed a line.

If we dare open our doors when a bicyclist is approaching, and said bicyclist hits the door, the driver could be fined up to $1,000.

And this after Emanuel configured miles upon miles of streets to allow for bike lanes. The worst example is Dearborn Street, a one-way street going north. The way he's set it up now, there are bike lanes on the farthest west side of Dearborn going both ways. Just to the east of the bike lanes is a parking lane for cars.

If you park in the parking lane on Dearborn and open the driver's side door, it could reach into the bike lane. The mayor's proposed new ordinance allows for bicyclists to ride two abreast. So chances are there could be more Little Bike People ramming into car doors. And whose fault will this be?

The fault of the Little Bike People?

No. It'll be the fault of the drivers of legitimate vehicles. And they will pay.

That passage set Chicago magazine’s Whet Moser off.

(Dustin) Valenta had the tragic luck to be doored by a "legitimate vehicle" into the path of a car, though he was lucky to survive, unlike Clinton Miceli, who was killed on LaSalle Street when he was doored into the path of a car. But even a dooring alone can be terrible—one of my friends, whom Kass would consider among the "Good Little Bike People who follow the law and wear yellow shirts and spandex," who knows the local cycling laws back to front, got doored. She broke her collarbone, passing out from the pain as she was being hauled into the ambulance. She couldn't do much with her arms for awhile, and re-fractured it later.

Kass’s trolling continues to place the onus for accidents involving bicyclists solely on them while absolving the motorists of blame, when the truth is culpability is most likely shared. These fines, like the ones currently on the books, won’t mean a thing without enforcement and education to both motorists and bicyclists on the rules of the road. This means that motorists should know opening their doors into traffic without looking could have fatal consequences. So can biking at night without headlights, tail lights and reflective clothing, or realizing a stop sign means stop (at least until Illinois becomes a “soft-stop” state.)

Bike accidents have increased 38 percent in the past decade as more lanes have been designated for cyclists and doorings have become more common. (Check out WBEZ’s map of the 250 doorings in Chicago last year.)

Or maybe Kass hasn’t had the privilege of being stuck in rush hour traffic in his sport utility tank at Grand, Milwaukee and Halsted for four light cycles behind 20 single-occupant cars, all with bumper stickers reading "I could have biked today but didn't."