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Chicago Bicyclist Pens Open Letter To Pedestrian Who Reportedly Shouted Death Threats To Her

By Jon Graef in News on Jul 6, 2014 7:00PM

[UPDATE: July 7, 10:00 a.m]: The Craigslist post's author has identified herself in the comments section as Gillian Wu.

A Chicago bicyclist wrote an open letter on Craigslist to a pedestrian who she says told her he hopde she would 'die on her bike' after he refused to step out of the bike lane for her outside of Big Star in Wicker Park.

The Chicago Municipal Code states that, "every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk shall yield right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway," a fact to which the bicyclist refers in the post.

Characterizing herself as a "diminutive girl with [a] light purple bike" and a "grey helmet", and the man as "an older gentlemen in business casual" with a "sense of self worth fueled by demeaning people," the post's author wrote she shouted for the older gentlemen and his friends to move out of the bike line. The bicyclists writes she was "met with a chorus of jeers."

Here's how the author characterizes what happened next:

I turned around, got off my bike, and politely asked that you and your friends and your wife, who was holding your beautiful, sleepy tow-headed child, if you could move your conversation from the bike lane to the sidewalk so other people on bikes wouldn't have to swerve around you into traffic, and so you wouldn't be at risk of getting hit by a less attentive cyclist.

I said please and thank you. I called you sir. You called me an entitled bitch and told me the world would be a better place without me and people like me.

Your friends laughed while tears of shame and anger burned in my eyes.

Your wife smiled and shrugged when you told me you hoped I got hit by a semi and splattered all over the street.

You told me that pedestrians have the right of way no matter what*, and that I was wrong, and that I would get what was coming to me.

Your child looked at me with big, round, curious eyes, and began the lifelong process of learning how to treat other humans like garbage.

The bicyclist then ends her post on a poetic note:

I hope you wake up tomorrow in your comfortable bed, a slight hangover creeping into your graying temples. I hope that you feel gravity wearing on your bones, every step to your bathroom sink a shuffling chore, the repetition, the mundanity of your life exhausting from the moment you wake up. I hope you splash your face with cool water and look into the mirror, bleary, and see your reflection, and see yourself as I saw you, your entitlement, your brazen lack of empathy, your inability to consider the implication of your actions. I hope your son clings to your leg, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, and begs you to give him a horsey ride even though now he is getting too big. I hope that you feel a pang of regret, even just a twinge, thinking about his bearing silent witness to your verbal abuse of a stranger.

I hope you tell him to try his best to be nice to people, even when they aren't always nice back, just like my father told me.

I hope he listens.

It goes without saying that this is a one-sided account of an alleged incident. No word should be taken as gospel. Nonetheless, the post presents a useful opportunity to brush up on the rules of the road.

Here's what the Municipal Code of Chicago says about bicycles:

(a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by the laws of this state declaring rules of the road applicable to vehicles or by the traffic ordinances of this city applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except as to those provisions of laws and ordinances which by their nature can have no application.

(b) The regulations in the traffic code applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon any roadway or public sidewalk or upon any public path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated herein.

(c) Whenever authorized signs are erected indicating that no right or left turn or turn in the opposite direction is permitted, no person operating a bicycle shall disobey the direction of any such sign unless he dismounts from the bicycle to make the turn, in which event he shall then obey the regulations applicable to pedestrians.

The Craigslist post also serves as a good reminder of frustrations many bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers alike face as they try to navigate city life. [Speaking of pedestrians: Chicago police are cracking down on drivers and bicyclists who don’t stop at crosswalks. So stop at crosswalks.]

People reading this no doubt are already sharing, or at least thinking about, their experiences with Chicagoans who flagrantly disregard the rules of the road and the well-being of their fellow city dwellers. While no one is immune to these dangers, bicyclists are particularly vulnerable, and face lots of anger for simply existing. Don't channel your anger onto a random person. It never goes well.

If nothing else, let this serve as a simple reminder to share the road, regardless of how you use it.