How do you know when your local administration has gone too far?
10 years ago last July marked 10 years since I had first seen Chicago. I came here for a 2-day event with only 1 goal in mind, to see the band LYCIA. I fell in love with Chicago, her people and all of her beauty. It was so clean, and families were rollerblading in the streets downtown and bicyclists were everywhere. I knew that scorching hot Sunday, Chicago was going to be my home. It took 3 years to make the move, but it wasn't going to be something I was going to do overnight. It would take some planning and seed planting.
So as of 98’ I was here. And the environmentally local government pleased me even more.
Well Mayor Daley has been getting lots of negative press over the last couple of years due to some rather "shady" choices of his administration. That press has snowballed massively as of late. And who in the long haul has paid that price? The commuter.
Think about it. The CTA our wonderful public transit system rates have hiked. Tolls have doubled, and the Chicago Police spend countless man hours driving the opposite way up one way streets running every license plate to find out who has the dreaded 3 outstanding tickets resulting in the cursed “boot”. Lately though, it has gone from ridiculous to simply ludicrous. The city has hired uniformed city "officials" to run plates in our cities parking garages, and the parking lots of the Midway and O'Hare airports.
So, scofflaws they may be, yes I agree. However, I think our tax dollars should go towards the manpower to make this city safer. As a bicycle enthusiast myself, I cheered when Chicago passed a law making it a movable violation to talk on your handheld cell phone while driving. It makes perfect sense considering how many times I've been hit and knocked off my bike by someone on his or her cell phone when they should be paying attention. That law passed this past summer hasn't stopped many. I still see car after car being driven by someone who is talking on their phone when they should be more attentive to what they are doing.
But I highly question the most recent executive decision made by the powers that be. The police are now ticketing bike riders who run red lights or stops signs, those who ride the wrong way down a one-way street and those who are not basically adhering to the laws of the everyday car driver; Including being on your bike on a city sidewalk. Okay, some standards are in place for a reason, and as much as I think a good many drivers are more dangerous to innocent citizens, I think the muscle of the boys in blue are being pumped a little too hard.
For example, two weeks ago on a Thursday evening I was biking around Lincoln Park and doing some shopping. I crossed the street and was taking my bike up on to the corner and coming off the seat. From out of nowhere a bike cop comes up to me and asks what I'm doing. I tell him I'm going into a particular store to buy a shirt. He warned me that if I had not been off my bike when I took it to the sidewalk I would get a ticket. I told him I am very aware. I mean really, I'm a self admitted news junkie, I know every new rate hike and moronic law passed by this city by now. So believing he was satisfied I walked my bike to where I parked it and he actually followed me into the store to see if I was really buying the shirt I had mentioned. GIVE ME A BREAK, BIKE NAZI!
Oh, it gets worse from here, yes it does. The weekend of the Air and Water Show I was biking through the park on one of it's many bike paths and traffic was bumper to bumper. It was evening and everyone wanted out of the city. You can bet these people will never lower themselves to take public transportation. There are cops everywhere trying to direct traffic to insure an even flow out of the park and out of the city. I'm trying my best to get downtown when I suddenly hear commuters yelling at somebody calling him a fucking asshole. The next thing I know a guy driving a BMW crosses through traffic going the opposite way and he's coming at me on the bike path while talking on his cell phone. He blasts his horn and I'm off into the grass yelling at him, "What's wrong with you asshole?" WHERE WAS HIS TICKET???? This was not only against the law but extremely dangerous as far as I am concerned. I wanted so badly to throw something at his car. ANYTHING. But then I would have been the one being arrested while he got away.
To add salt to the wound, while taking an afternoon walk last Sunday my girlfriend and I see the new sign. NO BICYCLES PERMITTED ON SIDEWALK / VIOLATORS SUBJECT TO ARREST. ARREST! Isn't arrest a little extreme? What about that guy on his cell phone or the prick who was driving at me on the bike bath last month, or those pulled over for speeding? They are never subject to arrest. I believe "subject to arrest" is a lot extreme.
But the real clincher was yesterday. I had my bike chained to the fence off the sidewalk outside of my girlfriend’s apartment. I retuned to find a city warning sticker that my bike was subject to be tow/ impounded due to illegal parking. I'm dumbfounded. Extreme?
I think excessive is the word.
Citizen of Chicago