Beware of thirsty biker gangs in Oak Park


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Jack Crowe

This is serious. In last week's Viewpoints section of the Wednesday Journal a self-described "caffeine deprived Oak Parker" wrote in complaining about cyclists?#34;yes cyclists?#34;monopolizing the outside chairs at Starbucks on Lake Street both Saturday and Sunday mornings after long group rides.

The writer described a "pandemic" of "bicyclists flood[ing] the street, taking over the sidewalk and road." According to the writer, they then "move to the chairs outside Starbucks, where they remain for quite some time." She is right. I personally have observed up to 25 cyclists, coffee in hand, hogging the outdoor chairs at Starbucks and that is not all.

She accuses the bikers of taking "nearly every one of the seats outdoors for at least an hour" forcing others "to take their beverages elsewhere."

This is very serious. This is a "nuisance for the residents of Oak Park" as well as "tourists" who are forced to look elsewhere for java before heading to the Home and Studio.

She forgot to mention that these too-proud cyclists also wear brightly colored spandex shorts and jerseys, dew rags around their heads and wrap-around sunglasses. By looks alone these largely middle-aged men are an intimidating crowd.

She did not mention that this boisterous early morning crowd of cyclists is even more annoying because they talk endlessly of bike frames, seat adjustments, bike lights, and who should be buying a new bike.

They crow about who pulled the peleton the most during the morning ride and mock those who got dropped from the group. These ruffians do not deserve a seat at Starbucks. They should slink off to their cycling homes and eat bird seed or whatever it is cyclists eat. It is pure gall for them to act in such a loud and annoying manner.

Worse yet, like swarms of starlings, these coffee cyclists draw more cyclists. Some are not even from Oak Park. They also come from River Forest, Berwyn, Riverside and Elmwood Park.

To top it off, cycling groups from Chicago (did I mention the growing cycling gang affiliation problem?) sometimes pass through Oak Park and stop at Starbucks on their way to Waterfall Glenn in the Southwest suburbs. You can cut the tension with a knife as these two disparate groups of cyclists size up one another's bikes.

But there is more: I have a confession to make. I am one of those shameless post-ride cyclists who takes up the Starbucks chairs while I drink my coffee and I am in full agreement with the complaining writer. Something must be done.

Lord knows, I have tried to get our group to give up Starbucks for a coffee shop that is more cycler-friendly. But after a 40-mile ride, these cyclists refuse to go to a funkier coffee shop like Buzz Café. They will not sit outside of Cosi's and drink joe. Only when the cold weather forces them will they retreat to Caribou Coffee on Harlem. And let me tell you, during the winter months they are just as loud.

I will not even respond to the snide responses of my cycling cohorts to this important letter regarding the Starbucks coffee crisis. Among the suggestions: She should ride with the group if she wants a Starbucks chair; she should get up earlier?#34;the cyclists do not arrive at Starbucks until about 8:30 a.m.

The only solution I can see is for government to regulate this "nuisance." The Village should ban cyclists from associating in hoards. The law should be that cyclists should not be allowed to drink coffee in groups of more than four. Then we can all drink our cup in peace.

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