Sunday, November 23, 2014
Don't bike drunk
A video made the rounds last year showing a woman riding a Divvy bike on Lake Shore Drive.
We stood around the newsroom and shook our heads—how stupid, exactly, can a person be? Taking a bike on the busy highway? Having ridden Divvy bikes all over downtown, from Roosevelt Road to Logan Square, I tried to answer that:
I can see how something like that happens, I said. You go off course. Once I was heading to the Aqua Tower, which I'd normally cab or walk but, since I was on a bike, I pedaled east on Kinzie, which made sense, then took a right at Michigan, which made sense, but ended up on Lower Michigan, waiting in the intersection to take a left onto Lower Wacker Drive, which suddenly didn't make sense at all: a busy, dark, dangerous intersection where nobody expects to see a bike.
This is a bad idea, I thought, riding like mad to get out of there.
A similar thought might have snapped through the booze-soaked brain of the 24-year-old mope who took a Divvy on Lake Shore Drive about 2:45 a.m. Saturday, weaving across lanes, eventually getting involved in a serious crash that severed his foot and left him in "very critical" condition.
According to news reports, the cyclist was riding at 3100 N. Lake Shore Drive, when he swerved into a 2008 Mitsubishi, being driven by an Uber cab driver, and got clipped by the side mirror. He fell. When that car stopped to help him, another car hit them.
There's nothing really to be said that isn't obvious: don't bike drunk. While not quite as dangerous as driving drunk, at least to other people, your reflexes and judgment are still impaired and you risk doing something stupid, such as biking Lake Shore Drive at night—extra stupid because there's a bike path right there, nearby, along the lakeshore.
No one has gotten seriously injured on a Divvy bike before, and as someone who enjoys riding them, it's a shame to see that unblemished record broken in such a tragic way by a reckless individual. I'd like to say this doesn't count. But I suppose it does. I don't see how you can blame Divvy, though he'll probably end up suing the bike share service, if he lives, for allowing him access to a bike when he was impaired. You wish a person who does that would be able to say, "This was my fault" but that takes rare honesty. As it is, he'll probably be missing a foot, as a reminder of his folly.
And this tragedy should remind those who drink, particularly with the holiday season upon us, to plan ahead of how they're getting home, so they don't go home in an ambulance. And a reminder to those of us who don't drink that, though we might miss out on a bit of the fun, there's a whole boatload of misery that we also avoid, and that's a pretty good deal. As Upton Sinclair wrote: "Not drinking is no easy passport to happiness, no automatic assurance of a good and happy and creative life. What it does do is to increase the odds enormously."