"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


I must sound jaded....

There's nothing like a good, long commute to work by bicycle to get me going on car-culture again.


The ride Wednesday was actually incident free, for me, anyways. The only scary moment came at the Golf intersection at Milwaukee. As I went through the light was a solid yellow, quickly headed to red. Up ahead I saw a pot hole, and I checked behind me before dodging. My sixth sense told me to do so, but it was probably just the assumption that someone would of course run the light, or maybe it was just the revving engine. So I hit the pothole and let the car pass, its driver on a cell phone, unaware of the shiny, blunt instrument of death that caged her and insulated her.

I said the day was incident free for me. But not for someone else. I don't know who that someone was, because by time I saw him - or her - the cops were zipping up the body bag. That unlucky soul had, not too smartly, been jaywalking across Milwaukee, just south of Oakton, and had been hit. Had the life knocked out of him by the quintessential American right to drive fast, to drive alone, and drive whenever and where ever we want.

I am not advocating taking cars away. Or taking our choice or free will. I am not a communist. I drive on occasion. Alone, and where ever I want. But cars are probably the ultimate act of selfishness in our society. We casually burn away 400 years of sunshine each with each mile we drive. The slaughter of kids, mothers, dads, and friends continues every day, taking more lives a year than any war in history ever had. And mostly because of self-entitlement and impatience.

And I am not blaming the driver for that person's death Wednesday. That person was jaywalking, patently unsafe for the conditions on Milwaukee at any time of the day. Yet we are a culture that laughs at alternative choices of transportation and marginalizes those who chose those alternatives. Rarely am I physically threatened on purpose while biking. Far more often I am not even noticed, and that is far more unnerving. So many people think it's OK to simply honk, and pass me with only inches to spare with 2 tons of steel because getting to Wendy's is far more important than having to wait 13 seconds for space to open up to pass me safely.

The point is that these people in their cars would not behave this way were we both on foot. The car insulates, deadens, and gives us a false sense of size and power. But remember. Your body isn't made of a V-6 engine. It's flesh and bone. That bleeds. And dies.

Just like my body.

Lastly, the article I reference above is ironic went presented in terms of our own struggles here in Chicago. After all, Daley is trying mightily to secure his place in mayoral history by making Chicago the greenest city in the world. Yet his own greed and corruption, nay the City's itself has made the CTA into a money-devouring monster with a broken backbone that can only shit out delays and disillusioned customers. Customers who want to be better citizens, who want to do their part to make the city a better place to live in, but will now say "fuck it. I guess I'm driving instead."

Sure there is the rest of the state also holding us hostage with massive highway subsidization demands. But if we'd given the CTA it's due - for that matter, public transportation as a whole, nationally - we'd not be in the situation we are in now. The rest of the world is leaving us behind to choke on the exhaust fumes and high gas prices.

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