Category Archives: Harassing Driver

Bicyclist alerts driver to impending collision, driver avoids and revs engine

Location

4100 N California Ave, Chicago, IL
33rd Ward, Alderman Deb Mell

Type

Had to stop abruptly

What happened

Heading north on California Ave next to Horner Park and a driver abruptly decided to try and move into the parking lane in order to turn right into one of the Horner Park entrances. They saw me and I yelled and then told them to watch out, which the driver and 5 passengers didn’t seem to like, which led to the driver revving his engine while I continued in front of him north on California.

Suggested improvements

Repainting the shared bike lane markings would be nice. A protected bike lane would be better although I don’t know if the street is wide enough [it would be wide enough if you removed parking from one side, like the park side which has its own parking lots].

Something like California between Addison and Roscoe would be better (well defined lane, maybe buffered).

Nissan driver tells bicyclist riding on Franklin St. to “get the hell off the road”

Location

646 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL
42nd Ward, Alderman Reilly

Type

Passed closely

What happened

A driver in a gold/champagne-colored, early 2000s Nissan Altima passed too close to me (~1-2 inches of separation) northbound on Franklin, just south of Erie. I yelled “HEY!” when the driver got too close. We both stopped at the red light at Erie, at which point the driver rolled down his window, hung up his cell phone call, and told me to “Get the hell off the road.” I was pretty worked up, so when I angrily told him that he had to give me 3 feet at minimum, he insisted that he was right and I had to get out of his way and that bikes should get out of the street.

I asked (still pretty angrily and adrenaline fueled) him if he’d like to talk to a cop about it, even offering to show him exactly which law he violated with the Bike Laws app. He told me to fuck off and said, “I’ll turn you into one of those white bikes with flowers on them.”

When the light finally changed, the driver sped off straight, I chose to turn right on to Erie rather than deal with encountering him again.

Suggested improvements

Just any bike infrastructure would be nice, really. [There aren’t] even sharrow markings on that part of the street.

The road is also very narrow as it’s under the El tracks, so I think adjusting/removing parking along that part of the street would also help.

Cop right-hooks cyclist on Montrose and yells obscenity

Location

4632 W. Montrose Chicago, IL 60641

Type

Right hook
Harassing driver

What happened

Was traveling westbound on Montrose. Saw car come up on right, thought it was a cab. It was a Chicago police department car. It sped up to turn right in front of me. I had to brake a bit to avoid the collision. I said “Really?” loudly, and the officer stopped post-turn, rolled his window down, and told me to “fuck off.”

Suggested improvements

There is street parking just east of there, and the entrance ramp to the Kennedy west. Bike lanes would help on Montrose, but perhaps removing the parking or putting a dedicated turn lane for Knox might help. Many drivers get in the right lane just before Cicero as Montrose opens, only to have to bunch back up at the parking before Knox.

Bicyclist gets the horn and screaming treatment on Addison by Lane Tech High School

Location

2500 W. Addison St. Chicago, IL 60618
47th, Alderman Pawar

Type

Harassing driver
Passed closely

What happened

Driver in a minivan laid on his horn and screamed at me on Addison while I was traveling eastbound. This street has no shoulder at all and cyclists have no choice but to take the lane. Traffic jams when cars stop to turn left into McDonald’s. Once able to pass, the driver passed me with maybe a foot of clearance and proceeded to swerve towards me in a threatening manner several times before he was stopped by traffic and I was able to get ahead of him.

Suggested improvements

One lane of Addison between California and Western should be turned into a clearly marked bike lane. Traffic jams from left-turning vehicles could be resolved with green arrow cycles on the stoplights. A bike lane might also prevent parents from illegally parking their vehicles in the right lane to drop off kids at Lane Tech.

I wouldn't advise people to bike on Addison like this city sign doesEd. note: A sign installed by the City of Chicago several years ago recommends that people bicycle east on Addison from California through this area to reach Wrigley Field (see photo). As the development of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 continued it became clear that there are few comfortable routes to cross the Chicago River (and expressways).

I use Montrose or Belmont to cross the river and I would never use Addison or Irving Park. Belmont is very similar to Addison in that it has four travel lanes and no bike lanes, but for a much shorter segment. 

Taxi driver buzzes two cyclists, doesn’t understand rules of the road

Location

1600 N Clark St
43rd Ward, Alderman Michele Smith

Type

Passed closely
Harassing driver

What happened

The same taxi driver passed myself and another cyclist with about eight inches to spare two times in a row where both of us had to swerve into parked cars to get out of his way. Clark Street at this location is quite wide and there was plenty of space to pass safely.

When I pulled up next to him at Clark and North I asked him to roll down his window and requested that he not pass cyclists so close. His response was “This is not a bicycle path. It is illegal for you to bike here”.

I told him that legally we are allowed to bike on the streets and that the law was that he has to pass with at least three feet of space. At this point he started yelling at me “How much taxes do you pay? I pay taxes.”

I’m not sure where he was going with his class-based argument. Was he implying that people who pay more taxes are more entitled to public space? I informed him that I pay property tax, income tax, sales tax and though I rarely use it I have a car which I also pay tax on. At that point I could see I was getting nowhere and I was getting pretty steamed so I just left.

Do taxi drivers have to take some sort of test indicating that they understand road rules before getting a license? It seems that this guy really had no idea that cyclists are legally allowed to bike on the street.

Ed. note: Taxi drivers indeed take a public chauffeur course at Harold Washington College before the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will issue them a chauffeur permit. 

Suggested improvements

[None provided]

Bicyclist clipped by frustrated driver on Milwaukee at Grand and Halsted

Type

Passed closely
Harassing driver

Location

495 N Milwaukee Ave, at Grand and Halsted
27th Ward, Alderman Burnett

What happened

I was headed northbound on Milwaukee. The light was red at Grand, which has a green bike box in the front of the intersection. A driver was blocking the bike lane, but not the bike box, and there was another cyclist in the box in front of her. I rode around the driver and stopped in the box, next to the other cyclist and was shortly joined by a third cyclist. The driver rolled down her window and yelled “why must you stop directly in front of me!?”. Before we could point out the bike box, the light turned, and she screamed “Move!” and honked her horn. As we started to move, she accelerated quickly and passed us closely, clipping one of the cyclists.

The clipped cyclist later caught up to her (since traffic was heavy, she quickly got stuck in a line of cars), and she drive into the other lane (into oncomming traffic) to get away from him, eventually turning right on Elston.

Improvements

Real separation between cyclists and impatient, reckless drivers.

Driver tries to run Washington Street bicyclist off the road

Type and location

Harassing driver
200 W Washington Street, Chicago, IL

What happened

Your story: This enraged driver tried to run into me.

The pattern that has become more apparent to me now is, even on a triple wide street like Washington, drivers that buzz by in order to pass me up to get to the red light in front of me become more enraged as I pass them up again at the red when I take the lane once more.

As I passed he yelled “oh yeah! your’e on your bike”. When the light turned green he revved up and aimed his car towards my direction. I managed to veer off to the side. Mad that he was not able to get close enough to me, he yelled “pussy!” and sped off to the next red light.

It’s kind of flattering being called pussy. Those things can take a good beating and they come back for more.

Suggested improvements for this location: Actually extending the Washington bike lane into downtown might make it a little less of a harrowing ride. Putting in a protected lane would be tops.

Ed. note: The Chicago Department of Transportation will begin construction in Spring 2014 on the Central Loop BRT which will add a protected bike lane on Washington Street from Clinton (maybe Canal) to Michigan Avenue. This makes a gap of two or three blocks from where the bike lane ends at Desplaines now to Canal or Clinton, respectively. 

State trooper tailgates bicyclist and yells at them

Type

Had to stop abruptly
Passed closely

What happened

State police officer in a marked car followed me too closely, then swerved around me, cutting me off. He then yelled at me to “pick a lane”.

Suggested improvements for this location: Disallow private buses to park in the travel lane. The police officer was likely trying to get around the many buses in the area, causing him to swerve in and out of the travel lanes.

CTA bus driver honks at bicyclist and passes too close

Type

Passed closely
Harrassed

What happened

The driver of CTA bus #1417, southbound route 36, ran me off the road at 7:45 this morning. I was riding southbound on Broadway, passing Briar, as far right as safe and practical because of slush and ice near the parked cars and the curb.

The driver of CTA bus #1417 came behind me, blaring the horn. I was well aware the bus was there before the driver began blaring the horn, but it was not safe to ride further to the right because of slush and ice at the curb.

The driver of CTA bus #1417 passed within two feet of me on the left, cutting back in toward me to avoid running over the pedestrian crossing sign at Barry. I was forced into the slush as the bus came within 12-18 inches of me.

I skidded, which was what I was trying to avoid with my original lane position. Fortunately, I remained mostly upright and unharmed.

Suggested improvements for this location: There are lots of cyclists on Broadway but there is insufficient road space because of curbside parking. Barry and Briar are common routes to and from the Lakefront Trail, but where those roads meet with Broadway, there are dangerous conflicts points, made worse when road conditions are snowy.

The bus driver should know better than to honk at cyclists who have taken the lane. The bus driver should know better than to pass within three feet of a cyclist. That driver acted with absolute disregard for the most vulnerable road user

Bicyclist nearly clipped by cabbie on Oak Street

Type

Passed closely

What happened

Livery cab nearly clipped me by passing within one inch. I tapped on his hood to let him know I was nearly hit by him and he proceeded to chase me for a block down the street and yell “hey, you b***h!” at me.

Suggested improvements for this location: Protected lanes on Oak Street connecting Michigan Avenue (at the Lake Front Trail) to Wells. Many people use Oak Street to cut over from the Lakefront Trail to the buffered bike lanes on Wells – especially to avoid the curve in the LFT further south.