The Chainlink

So I'm heading north on my nightly lakefront ride, when I get to Olive Beach at about 11:30 and suddenly encounter a CPD truck parked squarely in the middle of the bottleneck there, obviously blocking anyone from trying to pass and announcing that the lakefront closes at 11:00 every night.

 

I turned around and took to the streets at Grand because I'm not inclined to argue with law-enforcement officers---especially when they are only enforcing what is indeed, technically, the law. Still, I was surprised (and mildly annoyed at the inconvenience), because I have never, ever been shooed off the Lakefront Trail after 11:00 pm, as long as I've been on a bike and clearly going somewhere.

 

So, it seems that the assumption that the Lakefront Trail is "open" (nudge nudge wink wink) 24 hours for cyclists no longer holds, and I thought I should give the heads up. Has anyone else encountered this recently? For what it's worth, on the return trip, I got back on the trail at 18th Street and continued on to 47th Street without incident.

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That's how I'd interpret it.  In past years, I've never had a problem with police when I was riding through after 11:00, as long as I wasn't loitering.  Right now they're on a zero tolerance policy, and that kind of thing tends to have a few adverse affects on regular folks.  Hopefully this will pass.

Michelle said:

This is probably part of the efforts to keep ne'er-do-wells from the Ohio/Oak/North/Fullerton stretch. Too bad the strategy apparently requires banning law-abiding users as well. 

thats a bummer if it is true, I may have to test the theory out tonight to see if they do it again. I love the occasional 2-4 AM run up the LFT. Clear of traffic and a quiet respite from the city.

I had always heard that as long as you don't stop and are going somewhere (not just out for a pleasure ride), cyclists are allowed to use the path even after the park is closed.  But then I have a friend who got a ticket for being on the path after 11p (all the way up at Foster.)  This was a few years ago.  Last summer I was asked by a police officer to leave the path because the park was closing as I was passing Fullerton at 10:45p.  When I said I thought the park didn't close until 11p he said he'd better not find me on the path in 15 minutes then.  I took the path on the other side of the drive and watched him drive slowly north up the path until Belmont.  After that I checked the city's cycling website and it basically said the rules are unclear about whether cyclists can be on the path after the park closes and its best to comply w/any law enforcement officers who tell you to leave.  

It does seem like it would make sense to have an official policy that everyone could know.  It could be printed right on the city bike maps they hand out all the time and SHOW the path as a route for cyclists to take.  

Clare said:

I actually got ticketed for riding the path at night...way back in 2005 (I was on my way to work). It was during the Taste of Chicago that year. My sense is that the police are trying to clear out all of Grant Park and the lakefront promptly at 11:00 in order to keep festival-goers from causing too much havoc, drunkenly falling into the lake, etc.  Which is also why there's little enforcement the further you are from downtown.  I'm guessing this time next week it will be open again...at least until the next major festival (lollapalooza?).
The practice used to be that cyclists passing through for transportation purposes were allowed after 11 p.m., but anyone loitering was asked to leave the park and could be escorted out or arrested if they refused (depending on degree of resistance).  Seems like a lot of things have changed in the last few years.  I agree that it would be helpful to have a clear statement of whatever the official policy is now.

Sara Gmitter said:

I had always heard that as long as you don't stop and are going somewhere (not just out for a pleasure ride), cyclists are allowed to use the path even after the park is closed.  But then I have a friend who got a ticket for being on the path after 11p (all the way up at Foster.)  This was a few years ago.  Last summer I was asked by a police officer to leave the path because the park was closing as I was passing Fullerton at 10:45p.  When I said I thought the park didn't close until 11p he said he'd better not find me on the path in 15 minutes then.  I took the path on the other side of the drive and watched him drive slowly north up the path until Belmont.  After that I checked the city's cycling website and it basically said the rules are unclear about whether cyclists can be on the path after the park closes and its best to comply w/any law enforcement officers who tell you to leave.  

It does seem like it would make sense to have an official policy that everyone could know.  It could be printed right on the city bike maps they hand out all the time and SHOW the path as a route for cyclists to take.  

Clare said:

I actually got ticketed for riding the path at night...way back in 2005 (I was on my way to work). It was during the Taste of Chicago that year. My sense is that the police are trying to clear out all of Grant Park and the lakefront promptly at 11:00 in order to keep festival-goers from causing too much havoc, drunkenly falling into the lake, etc.  Which is also why there's little enforcement the further you are from downtown.  I'm guessing this time next week it will be open again...at least until the next major festival (lollapalooza?).

When the rules are one thing and then "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" for those people who happen to be the right color or wearing the right clothes that signify the right socioeconomic status it becomes a problem.  Rules for thee and not for me is the very heart of racism, favoritism and abuse of power by police. 


The bike path is 24/7 transportation infrastructure for EVERYONE regardless of color/creed/whatever as long as they are using human powered propultion. 

 

Anything else is pure bullshyte. 

 

 

Just talked to two Police Officers patrolong the LFT by the Planitarium and they said that the park has always closed at 11PM. In the past it may not have been strictly enforced but in lite of the recent situations on the LFT and beaches they are enforcing it.

They also asked me to pass it along.
That's a shame.  The LFP was one of the quickest and easiest routes from the Loop and parts north to hyde park late at night.

Tim S said:
Just talked to two Police Officers patrolong the LFT by the Planitarium and they said that the park has always closed at 11PM. In the past it may not have been strictly enforced but in lite of the recent situations on the LFT and beaches they are enforcing it.

They also asked me to pass it along.

Agree.  For the past 8 years I've commuted (at all hours of day and night, throughout the year) from Andersonville to the Lookingglass Theatre in the Pumping Station on Michigan Ave via the LFP and never had a problem, other than that one police officer asking me to leave that one time (and crazy crowds on summer weekends on my way in for the matinees, in which case I avoided the path).  Often that late night commute w/the path mostly to myself was the best part of my day.  

I get that there's a safety concern given the recent incidents, but didn't they all happen during the day?  Sigh.  

S said:

That's a shame.  The LFP was one of the quickest and easiest routes from the Loop and parts north to hyde park late at night.

Tim S said:
Just talked to two Police Officers patrolong the LFT by the Planitarium and they said that the park has always closed at 11PM. In the past it may not have been strictly enforced but in lite of the recent situations on the LFT and beaches they are enforcing it.

They also asked me to pass it along.
 

The official policy of the Chicago Park District is that parks are closed at 11:00 p.m., including the Lakefront Trail. Over the years, Active Transportation Alliance has had discussions with the Park District Superintendants (at least 3 different ones now) about officially excluding the Lakefront Trail from being closed while being used for transportation purposes. There has always been a spirit of agreement from the various superintendants (including the current one) on this topic but getting this officially recognized has always been a problem.

As it currently stands, the Lakefront Trail is officially closed at 11:00 p.m. While this is generally not enforced, if you are directed to leave the Lakefront Trail after 11:00 p.m. we do advise that you do not argue with the police and leave the Trail. We know how frustrating this is for everyone. We know that this is a deterrent for Lakefront Trail users to ride their bicycles for transportation if they will need to be on the Trail after 11:00 p.m. We will continue to press the Park District to officially allow the Lakefront Trail to be open to cyclists who are using it for transportation 24 hours a day.

Thanks,

Randy Warren

Program Specialist

Active Transportation Alliance

Yes, but these scumbags might realize that it's easier to jump someone in the dark.  I'd be more concerned about getting attacked in the dark (and some stretches of the Lakefront Path are DARK) than I would be bright sunshine.

Sara Gmitter said:

 

I get that there's a safety concern given the recent incidents, but didn't they all happen during the day?  Sigh.  

S said:

That's a shame.  The LFP was one of the quickest and easiest routes from the Loop and parts north to hyde park late at night.

Tim S said:
Just talked to two Police Officers patrolong the LFT by the Planitarium and they said that the park has always closed at 11PM. In the past it may not have been strictly enforced but in lite of the recent situations on the LFT and beaches they are enforcing it.

They also asked me to pass it along.

Good advice.  It's generally a VERY BAD idea to argue with a police officer no matter what you may think of them and would wish to say to them.  They don't like lip and will "protect and serve" the crap out of you if you give it to them. 

 

Thank you for both clarifying the policy minutia and the efforts to change it.  It would seem to me that designating the LFP as core transportation infrastructure for human-powered vehicles and that it be accessable at all times for all users regardless of what their personal schedules should be a foundation-block to the new city bike plan.

 

What is next? Closing the new Kinzie St. protected bike path after dark too?  The Milwaukee street sharrrows?  Closing the LFP every night is ridiculous and this needs to be changed and this silly policy addressed  Keep up the good fight Randy.  

Randy Warren said:

 

As it currently stands, the Lakefront Trail is officially closed at 11:00 p.m. While this is generally not enforced, if you are directed to leave the Lakefront Trail after 11:00 p.m. we do advise that you do not argue with the police and leave the Trail. We know how frustrating this is for everyone. We know that this is a deterrent for Lakefront Trail users to ride their bicycles for transportation if they will need to be on the Trail after 11:00 p.m. We will continue to press the Park District to officially allow the Lakefront Trail to be open to cyclists who are using it for transportation 24 hours a day.

Thanks,

Randy Warren

Program Specialist

Active Transportation Alliance

How are we going to define "transportation"? In the incident that I first mentioned, even though I wasn't loitering, I wasn't really "transporting" myself anywhere useful, either. If the Park District makes an official declaration that the LFT is open all night to "cyclists who are using it for transportation," then how are they going to distinguish riders who are commuting or returning home from a social function from riders who taking a late-night (or very-early-morning) recreational ride of some sort? Would a boisterous group heading home from (or participating in), say, a nighttime Chainlink ride be declared a "mob" and kicked off the trail? Or might an actual mob with bad intentions get a pass because they're all rolling on bikes?


Randy Warren said:

 

The official policy of the Chicago Park District is that parks are closed at 11:00 p.m., including the Lakefront Trail. Over the years, Active Transportation Alliance has had discussions with the Park District Superintendants (at least 3 different ones now) about officially excluding the Lakefront Trail from being closed while being used for transportation purposes. There has always been a spirit of agreement from the various superintendants (including the current one) on this topic but getting this officially recognized has always been a problem.

As it currently stands, the Lakefront Trail is officially closed at 11:00 p.m. While this is generally not enforced, if you are directed to leave the Lakefront Trail after 11:00 p.m. we do advise that you do not argue with the police and leave the Trail. We know how frustrating this is for everyone. We know that this is a deterrent for Lakefront Trail users to ride their bicycles for transportation if they will need to be on the Trail after 11:00 p.m. We will continue to press the Park District to officially allow the Lakefront Trail to be open to cyclists who are using it for transportation 24 hours a day.

Thanks,

Randy Warren

Program Specialist

Active Transportation Alliance

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