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article imageOp-Ed: Chicago police crack down on bicyclists

By Jennifer Ramirez     Jun 7, 2011 in Politics
Chicago - As children, bicycle riders are taught to obey stop signs and traffic signals as part of basic safety. But many green commuters and riders on bike paths in Chicago are flaunting traffic rules.
Many is the time I've slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a bicyclist who sped through the intersection, completely unannounced and without slowing to check for passing vehicles. But after the Chicago Department of Transportation reported a staggering average of 1,300 crashes involving bike riders each year, the Chicago Police Department finally decided to take a stand.
Chicago Police, working in conjunction with the Chicago Department of Transportation and the City of Chicago's Bicycling Ambassadors Program, set up a sting operation Tuesday at one downtown intersection for two hours during the morning commute. Officials stated that they chose the location for the high number of cyclists who pass through each day, their flagrant disregard for red lights in that intersection and the number of accidents and close calls that occur there on a regular basis.
During the two-hour sting operation, police issued 240 warnings, one ticket for a red-light violation and biking on crosswalks meant for pedestrian traffic only. With each warning issued, police stressed the importance of following the rules of the road. They stressed that unsafe practices while biking put pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers at risk. Many bicyclists said that they did not realize red lights applied to cyclists and agreed to obey traffic signals in the future.
Police officials stated that the operation went smoothly. The one ticket issued was to a cyclist who, according to police Sargent Patricia Maher, stated he "didn't like [the police] being out here." Other bicyclists cited the need for better bike lanes and stated that they occasionally bike in crosswalks when it appears too dangerous to share the road with drivers.
Have the unsafe bicyclists learned their lesson? This crackdown may stick in the minds of several bicyclists as one of their more memorable morning commutes, but as with driving and anything else, there will always be someone who is in too much of a hurry to follow the rules created with our safety in mind.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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