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  1. #1
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    Lakefront Bike Path Safety

    Hello,
    I am lucky enough to regularly commute to work by biking 15 miles along a beautiful bike path next to lake Michigan in Chicago. Now that the weather is nice, however, the amount of traffic (bike, rollerblade, pedestrian) gets heavy, and at times is out of control on sections of the path. I am always amazed by the lack of courtesy and judgement shown by many of the folks who use this great resource. By the beaches, volleyball players congregate on the path to stand around and talk (even though the beach has plenty of room); rollerbladers, pedestrians and bikers tend to ride 2-4 people next to each other (partially or completely blocking the lanes); tourists gape at the beautiful skyline views and snap pictures from the middle of the path (rather than step onto the grass next to it); and through all of this, serious bikers with fast road or racing bikes go speeding through, passing and yelling and acting like the path is meant for them and them only.

    I wish that there were more police on bikes who cruised around, kicking loiterers off of the path, asking people to ride single file when crowded, giving out safety brochures and, yes, making sure that folks slow down on crowded sections of the bike path.

    On my way home yesterday, the path was blocked by an ambulance on a particularly busy section (north beach, by the volleyball courts). Lying face-down on the ground was a guy with a banged-up road bike and a woman in rollerblades whose eyes were closed. She was not moving at all, and the paramedics were kneeling over her. I only hope both people are OK, but it didn't look good. Earlier that day, a group of tourists blocked the path and wouldn't move even after repeated loud requests (that were polite -- at first) by myself and three other bikers attempting to pass. Eventually one of the bikers fell over after not getting her foot out of her clips in time, knocking over another biker. Instead of apologizing, the tourists laughed. I also barely avoided crashing into an unsupervised kid who decided to race his friend across the grass and directly across the bike path at the bottom of a small hill with a curve at the bottom. He apologized, but obviously these people just have never been told that there are rules to using the bike path, just as there are rules to the road.

    And this was just one day.

    Anyway, I just want to say that the way I see it, this IS a road of sorts, not a sidewalk nor a speedway. Yes, rollerbladers take up more space and pedestrians are slow, but it's important that serious bikers also take responsibility for sharing the path by doing things such as NOT biking fast on crowded sections even though you may be in training or trying to get to work or whatever. . .

    I hate to think that people are incapable of taking responsibility for their own behavior, but maybe there need to be stricter (and better enforced) laws for using bike paths. Just a thought.

    Happy (and safe) trails!

  2. #2
    Bike Happy DanFromDetroit's Avatar
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    I don't know this path, but from what you say, it sounds like a place I would avoid on a bike. To me it sounds like a walking path no matter what they call it.

    As far as cyclists just behaving as if the place is a bicycle track, when they can plainly see that it is not, that's needlessly dangerous and just plain rude and wrong. Cycling primates are no better than motoring primates.

    The pedestrians and volleyball players are something that you just have to adapt to, I guess. There is downtown area of a suburb here in Detroit (11 and Main in Royal Oak for those familiar with the area) that fills up with the restaurant and bar crowd every weekend evening. Traffic is at a standstill on the road. Pedestrians are almost shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk and spill out into the street. There are small railings surrounding tables for streetfront coffee shops and bistros narrowing the sidewalk further. No one pays any attention to traffic signals and most are oblivious to what is going on around them. When I head to downtown Royal Oak I always bike because parking is terrible for autos. When cycling through this kind of mess, you have to behave more like a pedestrian than a cyclist. I spend most all my time out of the saddle, pedaling in quarter turns, going 3mph or less. It also helps to talk to folks as you move through the crowd. This wakes them up and alerts them to your presence. Given a chance, almost everyone will attempt to accomodate you if you approach them politely on their terms.

    This kind of situation is an object lesson in why bicycles belong on roads.

    No amount of regulation, legislation, or marketing can enforce courtesy and common sense. Folks either get it or they don't. This bunch sounds like they don't.
    Last edited by DanFromDetroit; 07-25-02 at 06:53 PM.
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  3. #3
    bac
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    Originally posted by Chicagobiker
    I hate to think that people are incapable of taking responsibility for their own behavior
    Think it - learn it - live it!

    Unfortunately, this seems to be the rule, not the exception. It is somewhat of a downer that you have such a good resource (trail) to get to work, and it may be as dangerous @ the road! However, you've got it right - when the path is crowded, you must slow down, and be VERY aware of potential bone-heads! Good luck!

  4. #4
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by bac
    Unfortunately, this seems to be the rule, not the exception. It is somewhat of a downer that you have such a good resource (trail) to get to work, and it may be as dangerous @ the road!
    In all honesty, I've not yet seen any bikepath anywhere that wasn't more dangerous than the road anyway.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  5. #5
    Lovin' my Fixie bikeman's Avatar
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    My city has a beautiful set of parks and parkways that surround the city. Many of the sections have "multi-purpose" paths that are used extensively by skaters, kids on bikes with Mom and Dad and some bike riders (notice I didn't call them cyclists) and of course walkers and joggers.

    It is just too crazy to use them as a cyclist moving at faster speeds and I've only used them as a walking path. Instead I ride on the road that runs parallel to the paths. It is legal to ride the road of course, but not in the eyes of the car drivers. We are often yelled at to "Get on the Bikepath you jerk!" as we ride on the road. Of course this often turns into a shouting match. Because there IS a path all drivers seem to think that cyclists should only use that and stay off "their" roads.

  6. #6
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    This sounds typical of a bike path. Most of them are a danger to life and limb for cyclists and no place to be if you want to go more than five miles an hour. The bike paths here are typical. Last week, a family of huge, obese people was waalking on it and when I called out to them, they just looked dully at me. Then there are bladers, pedestrians, kids, people walking dogs, pushing strollers, and people on bikes who are just total morons and have no clue. Twice last week, I yelled at people going in the opposite direction because they weren't looking where they were going and were wobbling into the lane right in front of me! I called out to one stupid bimbo and her boyfriend made obscene noises at me. Another time I got stuck behind two bimbos on roller blades pushing a baby buggy up a hill!So I avoid bike paths whenever possible, taking them only when necessary, like to avoid rush hour traffic. If anyone yells at me to 'get on the path' I think 'they wouldn't be sayng that if they'd ever been on that path'.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  7. #7
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by wabbit
    If anyone yells at me to 'get on the path' I think 'they wouldn't be sayng that if they'd ever been on that path'.
    No, they'd probably yell "that's what the f***ing footpath is for", like that jerk I heard in the Olympic City (Murwillumbah) today.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  8. #8
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    Biking through the heart of the Chicago Loop is much more relaxing than using the Lakefront path. Predicting which direction a cab is going to dart next is far easier than predicting which direction a toddler child will dart next. Also, the Loop has a lot of one way streets, which adds predictability to traffic flow.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

  9. #9
    Junior Member Guillermo's Avatar
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    I use the bike path for most of my rides, and simply try to avoid peak times.

    Lately, disobedient children have resorted to feigning to jump in front of me, or tossing their basketball so it just barely misses my wheel. Today, a kid coming the other direction on a little bike swerved right at me at the last minute, and made some sort of derogatory comment. As you can imagine, this is pretty aggravating. I have a hard time holding in my frustration sometimes.

    Don't these kids have anything better to do?

  10. #10
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    I see kids like that too. Kids are so cocky and rude nowadays, because their moron parents don't dare say NO to them or deny them anything. We are really living in an era of the worst parenting ever. Kids are treated like kings and queens and think the world is their oyster. Not a ride goes by that some little brat endangers my life: running out into the street without looking, careening right into my path on a bike or skateboard, etc. It's like not once has anyone ever told them what the right thing is- certainly not their parents!
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

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