Monday, July 25, 2005

Can I live in the ‘hood?

I went to visit the Hub on Friday night, a greenie, bikey housing cooperative that was recently purchased by several of my friends. The neighborhood it is in is sort of dangerous, but not too bad. Several of the surrounding areas are bad–and you need to ride through them to get to the Hub.

This wasn’t a concern of mine, even though I have recently heard people telling nasty tales of being threatened, chased and assaulted while riding. Shortly before Jim and I left the Hub it became apparent that he was nervous about the ride home, and was actually somewhat grateful for my presence. He listed some of the possible routes–which I didn’t care about either way. Normally when people suggest routes the concerns are traffic and/or pavement conditions–but it dawned on me that safety from pedestrians was the issue here. Weird.

Our ride was damned fast and there wasn’t any incident besides a few people who yelled angrily at us from their stoops. Jim bitched that he was sick and tired of ghetto bullshit and was considering moving away from Chicago because of it. Nooooo! Jim is super-cool and the other fixie-riding attorney in town. Knowing that he exists makes me happy, and I don’t want him to leave the city. [As a side note: Jim has messenger envy, and rides like one. My chicken, traffic rule-abiding ass had to choose at many intersections whether to follow his scary riding style, or get left behind (or show my cautious dorkiness to a person I really admire). I followed and dodged cars in many intersections as I whimpered and braced for impact. Not Fun (but certainly exhilarating.)]

I realized that I really don’t have much experience at all with riding through ghetto neighborhoods–especially at night. When I lived on the Southside, I took the spooky, but mostly safe, lakeshore path back to Hyde Park. My routes have always included the risk of random violent individuals, but never the risk of true ghetto, no-holds-barred group anger and violence.

After pondering safety/ghettos/risk for a while after this ride–I don’t think I have the stomach for it. I didn’t enjoy being mugged and I don’t like the fear that leaps into my throat when I encounter a solitary questionable character. I don’t like being yelled at or chased and I really don’t like the idea of dealing with people who don’t value my life. So maybe I am a coward, maybe I am a hypocrite, but I am going to place a higher value on safety when I contemplate potential neighborhoods for the co-op building.

I guess I am a) becoming a girl, or b) getting old and more cautious about risk.


At 11:49 PM, Blogger equipoise said...

After visiting you, I subscribed to the Chicago Crit Mass listserve. So I've been reading the reports of confrontation in some of the worse-off areas of the city - kids on bikes playing chicken, groups of peds pulling people off bikes, putting sticks through spokes, anything to halt the biker, turn him/her into a ped and cause mayhem.

This really surprised me, since I really haven't heard of behavior like this from peds in Mpls - it may exist, but I haven't heard of it.

Anyway, ride safe!


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