"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


From the Front Lines

Last night, I got into a bit of an altercation with a driver.

"So? Big deal?" you ask. Normally, yeah, arguments with drivers are as common as helmet visors at sprint triathlons. Except, this driver happened to be sitting behind the wheel of the Damen Avenue #50 bus.

(Side note: tough weekend. I had just gotten in from Madison after helping a friend relocate. I owed friend big for when I was looking for a job, but he'd not packed at all. At all. It was all I could do not to turn around and walk out the door. It seriously looked like a flea market in there. But, I really did enjoy spending the time with him, the break in routine, and seeing his awesome knew neighborhood. This is the pool two blocks from his place. This is a city park. No shit. Lesson to Chicago Park District: tax dollars really can go a long way. Awesome organic fair-trade coffee shop within walking distance too, as well as the idyllic gay couple next door, and we received eight unsolicited hellos from neighbors walking down the street. Plus he gave me a bottle of Dominus Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine heals all wounds.)

Anyways...asshole bus driver.

I realized I left my Rudys in friend's car so since I needed a ride anyways, I left on the hour round tripper from Logan to Roger's Park on my bike. I was on Damen heading north just past Lawrence when I first noticed the bus behind me, passing while speeding, and zooming into the next stop with no regard for my personal space whatsoever in the bike lane. It was though I was merely an obstacle.

I pass the bus at Ainsle, and as I am approaching Foster, where the Damen bus turns east, I sense the bus approaching at high speed again. I realize it is very likely this aggressive bus driver might attempt to turn right in front of me once past, so I look behind, signal, and take the lane, so he can position for his turn behind me instead.

He then honks, and we both come to a stop at the red light.

I turn around, and as I give him a dirty look for the honk and his aggressive driving, he opens his window and dresses me down:

"You need to be in the bike lane, man!"

I set him straight as to what the law actually states regarding bicycles in the right of way. I am immediately rebuked by the bus driver and told that I am the one who needs a refresher in traffic laws. I ask for his name and route number, and he then warns me that I "shouldn't cut off vehicles that are bigger than me."

I responded that I was taking that last comment as a threat and to expect a call from his supervisor.

I got home and sent an immediate letter to the CTA's Officer of the Attorney General, copying the BikeFed. I of course expected my plea for redress to go to the "ignore this hippie asshole" pile, so I added that I would write that office every single day until I received a satisfactory response.

Imagine my surprise and shock this morning upon receiving an actual reply from an actual person at the actual customer service office at the CTfuckingA! Completely professional, positive, and affirming the legality of my actions as I described them, they said the driver's supervisor would be informed immediately.

I plan on writing back to request I be kept informed as to the corrective actions taken against this particular driver. Not that I am seeking to have him fired, or take vindictive glee from his punishment in anyway, but that asshole needs to be shown the error of his ways. I'm abused on a daily basis by drivers, but to experience that from a public servant who's salary is paid by my fare card is something I will not stand for. Not from a professional driver. Not in this town where busses and bikes should be on the same team.

Public Transportation is part of the solution, and a bus driver who is not "on-board" is instead part of the problem.

Keeping on with the Fight for your Right.


Matt said...

Wow...good work.

Tamara Fraser said...

Dude! Way to keep your cool and actually do something constructive to address the problem! I need lessons.

The Car Whisperer said...

Thanks! [Sheepish grin] I normally would've just lost my cool, but I think with the uniform the course for redress was very apparent, and I was kinda tired from the weekend and I just didn't want the stress of getting in an argument at a stop light...but then the whole way up to Rick's and back (I did see him again going south and I gave him a big smart ass thumbs up as I flew past him!) I was thinking "should've said this should've said that" so by time I got home I was riled up but thinking clearly and luckily it correlated into a lucid, calm complaint.

Illinoisfrank said...

Well done.

Steven Vance said...

CTA employees are not public servants. No CTA employee was directly or indirectly hired as a result of public election.

Being paid partially by tax dollars does not make one a public servant.

The Car Whisperer said...

And your point is? He still shouldn't have even spoken to me.