Mark Dawson makes a fair point [Letters, September 28] regarding bike riders’ behavior on city streets (and sidewalks). The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation feels that bike riders are safest when operating their vehicle within Chicago’s traffic laws and ordinances. But we feel his burdening of bike riders with driver frustration is overstated.

Automobile drivers get angry because the car in the city fails to deliver on its promise: speedy, comfortable, spontaneous travel. That alluring promise convinces people to pay tens of thousands of dollars in purchase price, and tens of thousands more in usage. And that promise is totally inconsiderate of everyone and everything outside of the car.

Including other people in other cars. Ironically, the popularity of the car causes most of the stress and frustration of driving one. Even with no numbers to cite, I’ll say confidently that many drivers made victims of aggressive behavior were not targeted because they broke a traffic law. Stopping for pedestrians before turning, not turning against a No Turn on Red sign, obeying the speed limit, can throw someone’s plan to make it home before game time into a lurch. The promises made by the automobile break down. People get mad.

In the same way, a bike rider, obeying the laws and ordinances as all vehicles should, can cause all sorts of frustration for drivers asking their cars to give them what they feel they’ve paid for. In that sense, you can blame all bike riders’ behavior, legal and unlegal, for inciting drivers to acts of road rage.

In the city, the car makes a dishonest case for its purchase and use, its promise way out of whack with reality. The source of drivers’ frustration with bike riders is not the bike riders’ behavior, but how riding a bike in the city exposes cars as a sham.

Steven Buchtel



Chicagoland Bicycle