Thursday Things

1. This half-assed post is brought to you by the case of food poisoning (or something similar) I came down with on Tuesday. My stomach hurt when I woke up, but that’s not entirely abnormal, and usually breakfast solves the problem. Well, it most certainly didn’t on Tuesday, and after two and a half hours at work I called it a day and drug myself home, where I spent the remainder of the day shuffling between the couch and bathroom. My temperature got up to 101.9, which is the highest I’ve seen it ever in my adult life, and my symptoms were also worse than I ever remember them being during a stomach bug. So, you’re getting what I pre-wrote on Monday (and this). Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon, though it sure is hard to believe that when I’m in the throes of it.

2. There was an accident during the Chicago Triathlon, and the whole situation makes me so furious that I could punch someone.

You can read about the accident here (or here, or here, or any other local news site…it’s all pretty much the same), but basically, there are four northbound lanes and fourth southbound lanes on this portion of Lake Shore Drive. During the Chicago Triathlon, the inner two lanes are closed to vehicular traffic (separated by cones), and the outer two lanes are reserved for cars. Some idiot, apparently in far too much of a hurry to worry about any other human, decided she was too important to sit in traffic, pulled into a coned-off lane, and hit two participants in the process.

I knew four people racing on Sunday, so this was particularly close to home for me. One of the people I knew watched the whole thing happen about 100 feet in front of them and nearly got hit themselves. I actually didn’t even recognize them on the bike, because they had given up their tri jersey to serve as a pillow for the man who was hit. Fortunately none of my four racers were injured, but my blood is still absolutely boiling.

I’m outraged beyond WORDS at the driver for being so senselessly reckless. It’s incredible to me that no one died in this–a triathlete talking to his girlfriend or sister or best friend or whoever it was spectating him at the finish line also witnessed the accident, and told her that the man’s bike helmet was completely cracked–but they’re certainly going to have a very long and very expensive road to recovery. I’m also livid that the driver only got two citations. I rarely cheer for ambulance chasing lawyers, but since this accident has certainly gotten a decent amount of publicity, I hope an injury lawyer gets in touch with both of the athletes and gets the freaking book thrown at this woman. It upsets and terrifies me when cyclists get hit while biking on the road, but at LEAST that is almost always a result of drivers (usually drivers) and cyclists doing an exceedingly poor job of respecting the other person’s right to be on the road. This accident was more like someone pulling off Lake Shore and onto the Lakefront Trail, or getting out of the car lanes on Dearborn and into the bike-only lane–an entire lane, mind you, not just a painted stripe on the road–and driving there to “avoid traffic.” It is one hundred percent, inexcusably, unequivocally UNACCEPTABLE, and two tickets doesn’t even come CLOSE to justice as far as I’m concerned.

I also sincerely hope that this forces the City of Chicago to reconsider its “close down Lake Shore Drive entirely” threshold. I don’t remember where I heard this number, so I could be wrong, but if I remember correctly, you need 10,000 participants in an event to close Lake Shore Drive (if someone knows the actual number, if there is an actual number, please correct me). The Chicago Triathlon only (“only”) has 7,000 racers on Sunday, so they get half of the Drive closed, but not the whole thing. I certainly understand not closing Lake Shore Drive for a running event with 7,000 participants. The Lakefront Trail can accommodate those numbers (not comfortably, especially in areas where the Trail is thin, but it’s possible). Cyclists, taking up far more space and traveling at much higher speeds by virtue of being on a bike instead of two feet, can’t fit as easily onto the Trail in those high of numbers as runners, so I firmly believe that the city should allow the Triathlon to close Lake Shore down entirely on those grounds alone, even if it’s not the same area of Lake Shore closed right now. You could send the cyclists south, or split up the course so it goes both north and south, but not as far in each direction, or maybe you say for seven hours on Sunday morning, drivers can only travel north (or south) on Lake Shore Drive, and the other half of the road is closed to traffic entirely and turns into the bike course. You would think, with Rahm Emanuel, a former Chicago Triathlon participant himself, being the mayor of this town, that he could do something about this with DCASE to amend their permitting process, because I’m (not) sorry, but inconveniencing drivers super early on a SUNDAY morning, when traffic on Lake Shore, I would imagine, is at its absolute lightest, seems like a pretty small price to pay to make sure 7,000 people aren’t at risk of dying. (Though, as I’ve ranted about before, the car is king, all hail fossil fuel burning, climate destroying hunks of metal, blah blah blah).

At the absolute very LEAST, I sincerely hope Lifetime does more to make sure something like this can never happen again. If they can’t get the city to let them close Lake Shore Drive, fine, but then they had BETTER provide better protection to the athletes who paid them hundreds of dollars to participate in their race. Cones are quite clearly not sufficient, and ponying up to line the entire bike course with French barricades, once again, seems like a pretty small price to pay to keep your participants alive. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that 15 miles worth of French barricades, while expensive, are probably not lawsuit-from-the-family-of-a-dead-participant-accusing-you-of-not-providing-adequate-protection expensive. Don’t have money for 15 miles worth of French barricades? Then don’t put your cyclists on Lake Shore Drive for 15 miles.

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8 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. When I was running on the LFT on Sunday, I could see the Triathlon bikers riding alongside the speeding cars on LSD (separated by cones) and thought to myself, “it’s only a matter of time before there is an accident”. Little did I know there had already been one earlier in the day. Too bad they can’t put all the cars on one side of LSD and the triathletes on the other. Anyway, I’m all for closing the entire road down to cars for a few hours. Maybe charge the triathletes an extra $10 each and give it directly to the city for their trouble to shut down LSD?

    • There’s got to be some way to get the city to close the road all the way down. Clearly the current setup isn’t safe enough for cyclists, and something has to be done to change that. I’m really interested to see what happens next year in light of the accident this year.

  2. I cannot believe that woman only got two citations. What a crock. I wonder in the future they can shut down one side of LSD for the cyclists and have 2-way traffic on the other side, but I’m sure that comes with its own risks for the drivers not accustomed to a one-way suddenly becoming a 2-way.

  3. Two citations is a joke. A car is a deadly weapon. Also it seems apparent that she has a total disregard for the rules as she purposely crossed the line and didn’t even have insurance. I think they should have thrown the book at her.
    I could go on an hour long rant about cars and drivers but I will just say one thing – drivers who think they own the road really piss me off.

    • Exactly. I can’t imagine that she makes it through this without getting sued, which still doesn’t really feel like justice, but at least it’s something. But seriously, if you want to discourage drivers from killing or maiming other humans with their cars, two citations doesn’t exactly say, “Don’t ever do this, or there will be major consequences!”

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