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Ride respectfully: Don’t give bike critics ammunition

You may have seen Mark Konkol's recent rant against crazed cyclists in the Chicago Sun-Times and my response in today's paper.

src=http://www.activetrans.org/sites/default/files/Kinzie-Bike-Lane-CDOT.jpgWhile his tone and broad-brush attack on cyclists is way off base, he raises a legitimate point: Too many people riding bikes are blowing through stop signs on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane.

Yes, these stop signs apply to cyclists, too, the same as if there was no bike lane on Kinzie. This means people on bikes should yield to people driving cars who get to their stop sign first. And, of course, people biking always must yield to pedestrians entering or in the crosswalk.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has taken steps to discourage stop sign disregard on Kinzie by painting the word STOP on the bike lane pavement, deploying bike ambassadors to educate cyclists, and working with police to issue warnings. But it’s still pretty common, in part because cyclists are confused.

For example, the lane's physical separation gives people on bikes the sense that they are not part of the street and, thus, not subject to the same traffic rules. CDOT inadvertently added to the confusion by posting Bikes Stop for Pedestrians below the stop signs to emphasize the importance of yielding to pedestrians. You might think that means stop for pedestrians, and ONLY for pedestrians. Incorrect.

With so many cyclists using the Kinzie lane, it’s easy to “follow the herd” and blow through a stop sign because the people in front of you did. Sure, it would be fantastic if the Kinzie lane was a straight shot with no stops signs, but that’s not the case. So set a good example for your fellow cyclists on Kinzie and people riding bikes everywhere: Ride respectfully. Doing so will make cycling more enjoyable and safe, and give bike critics less fodder.

Image courtesy of CDOT