How to Chicago: If you Bike, Wear White

Drawing by Wilson


25. Survive. Back in my sports radio listening days the renowned commentator Tony Kornheiser used to sign his show off with “If your’e out on your bike tonight, do wear white”.  Initially it struck me as a peculiar way to end a sports show. As time passed however, I began to really appreciate what I thought was a solid and unique public service announcement. Later I heard that it was more a tribute to the Rolling Stones tune “Something Happened To Me Yesterday”.

Blah, blah blah…..who cares. I’ve been observing bike riders during dusk, early and full evening for years now. I must continue to pass the advice on. If you are out on your bike tonight, do wear white. It makes a shocking difference in your visibility to drivers. Bike reflectors do not get the job done. It’s stunning how often I see people young and not young zipping around the neighborhood in black T-shirts and dark shorts. They appear from nowhere. Drivers cannot see you until they are figuratively on top of you. An easy way to keep that statement from going literal would be to throw on a white T-shirt before you head out on your high wheel. Give yourself a fighting chance.

Dedicated to Philando.

Fear is not an excuse for murder. 

How to Drive Chicago: No Texting in Turn Lane

14. Drive.   Ok. We are all going to check our phones when stopped at a red light. Better than doing it while moving. Listen for the honk behind you to let you know the when light goes greeen again. 

There is, of course, one exception. Waiting in the turn lane for the green, left arrow. There is no texting allowed in this lane EVER. 

EVER! 

The Chicago, left, green arrow is fleeting and like soldiers kicking in a door and entering homes in Kabul, we need to get as many troops through it as possible. Go. Go. Go. Any delay will result in several cars not making it through the light and I just can’t bear the thought of that. 

Do not grab your phone when stopped in the turn lane. 

How to Drive Chicago: The Cardinal Sin

Last tip for January…

4. Drive.  This one is simple. Do not block intersections. Sometimes it’s tough as we space out behind the wheel, but if you’re creeping along pay attention to more than just the car in front of you.  If you see traffic is stopped ahead try to leave 20 feet between you and the car in front of you so that cross traffic can get through if the stoplight changes. Getting stuck in the middle of an intersection when cross traffic gets the green light is the cardinal sin of city driving. Get the big picture.  Isn’t that what this blog is really about. Get the big picture! That may mean stopping at the intersection’s entrance even with a green light because you can’t get completely through it. I know, I know. You’re stopped at a green light.  It’s going to freak you out, but you can do it. Do not enter the intersection if you cannot get all the way through it!  

How to Drive Chicago: Crosswalk Common Sense

OK. Week 3 brings us to the first lesson for traveling on foot.

3. Survive.  When on foot and waiting for the “walk” sign to flash, do not stand in the street!  Stand on the sidewalks as far back as possible. Daily I see people standing at intersections with their toes over the curb, or worse yet, with 1 hoof in the street.. as if this will get them to their destination sooner.  I get it. You’re in a hurry.  That extra 5 feet is not going to affect your arrival time and chance are you’re in someone’s or something’s way.  I’ve seen buses nearly tear faces off.  I’ve seen delivery trucks dislocate knees.  Move back!

Not to mention the common occurrence of the 85 yr old who thought the accelerator was the brake and careened into a crowd killing or maiming men, women and children.  Likewise when a driver has a grabber or stroke behind the wheel. Give yourself a fighting chance.  I’ve taught all my kids to stand as far back from the curb as possible. It won’t make you late, but it may save your life.

IMG_3290.JPG

Rendering by my friend Wilson