The Chainlink

Good news: Riverwalk security guards will stop hassling you on your AM commute

I did a little IRL trolling by riding the Chicago Riverwalk in this t-shirt yesterday. In the process, I learned that the riverwalk management has agreed to stop having security guards hassle cyclists for riding on the path between 6 and 9 a.m., when there's relatively little pedestrian traffic.

It's a start, but it's still legal to bike on the riverwalk at any time (although, in fairness, you should walk your bike through the sections of the promenade with cafe seating during peak hours, or at least ride at walking speed.) Let's keep pushing on this issue until the riverwalk management agrees that it's OK to bike on the promenade, which was originally pitched as a bike/ped facility, during times and in locations where it's not especially crowded. 

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Love the shirt! Great idea.

I rode the walk and just ignored the security people trying to say things with me (while going slowly and safely and yielding to peds). They said "ma'am", I kept going, that was it. Based on that experience, I'd suggest to anyone reading this just to ignore them.

We should tread carefully here - excuse the pun.  It's still illegal.  Just because we don't have a specific "No Water Balloons" ordinance here doesn't mean people can show up on the River Walk and lob them at us and claim it's legal, no matter what t-shirt they wear, much as we may like your style!  

Among other applicable things, reckless conduct in the Illinois Criminal Code is in play when biking in this space is endangering someone (we would be, the space is outside the design spec with the corners and other things we complain about) and it doesn't require a new ordinance.  Further, if the ordinance had been passed already and didn't mention motorcycles, they still couldn't ride on the river walk. 

The reason an ordinance was contemplated was to enumerate bikes in that specific location as a PER SE violation, instead of applying broader Articles such as the reckless conduct code that has broad scope (which is a double-edged sword).

Police, park districts and others have a little discretion in how and when to enforce all sorts of Articles (for instance when something is or isn't a nuisance under the Public Nuisance part of the code) and for that reason, people don't want to itemize every infraction in a new City ordinance, because once legislatures go down that path, they the end up needing an exhaustive list of everything.  (Skateboarding here, kite flying there, potato cannons and so forth)  Legislatures CAN do that if they wish so that there's a per se infraction for all sorts of things, but legislatively that's a huge hassle, and they and the cops, prosecutors, judges and others would just rather have the broader language. 

However, when it gets to folks contemplating an ordinance, it usually isn't something random. O'Reilly isn't just sitting around bored.  Rather, there are constituents who've raised this, and with all the confusion about bike path this, river WALK that, and some of the initial planning documents to try to get the whole thing created in the first place, the idea of an Ordinance offered some clarity around the confusion of the issue.  Some of O'Reilly's constituents may not want cyclists on certain nearby roadways either, and so there's even more going on here.

We can also get nailed for disorderly conduct.  It could also be pursued under Public Nuisance, which may be preferable to the cyclist, because that usually has a lower fine like around a hundred bucks or so.

If you believe the Riverwalk should not be used by bicyclist, then contact your alderman.  Suggest the owners (city) return the grant money that was received on the condition bicyclist could ride on the riverwalk.  Once plans to return the money are made then you can post signs that bicyclists can only walk their bicycle on the riverwalk, and remove it from the various maps.

No ketoguychicago, it's not illegal now, provided you are riding respectfully and appropriately sharing the Riverwalk/trail with other users. 

Ald. Brendan Reilly is now attempting to technically misuse the Riverwalk/trail due to the intended original procurement of funds for the planned uses upon its creation. 

Sensible cyclists = sensible citizens. 

And Ald. Reilly should work quicker to get the bike lane put in on Wacker. 


If someone draws up some maps that show people can drive their cars in a loop around Buckingham Fountain, people still can't do it.  That's not how any of this works. 

Many projects don't finish the way they start out, grant funding or otherwise.  So it's not dispositive that more than once, cycling had been considered and proposed for the area. 

Calatrava was going to build a great Chicago Spire near there too, and many proposals, permits and requests were submitted, and much money was spent toward that end, but of course, that's not how it turned out.  No Spire.  Same/same for biking in the final version of the Riverwalk.  

The very reason Alderman are talking about Wacker Drive is because in the final version, again, not as originally conceived, the Riverwalk didn't end up being the place for bikes, and they're trying to develop something that actually is.   

Tom we agree Sensible Cyclists = Sensible Citizens        

ketoguy, unless there is a city ordinance that says riding a bicycle on the riverwalk is not allowed, it is not "illegal." There is no such ordinance, and it is not. 

"If someone draws up some maps that show people can drive their cars in a loop around Buckingham Fountain, people still can't do it. That's not how any of this works."

Uh, the "someone" who drew up the map showing that it's OK to bike on the Chicago Riverwalk was the city of Chicago, which owns the riverwalk.  

I look forward to the day that CDOT applies for and is granted state or federal funding to build a new road and after it is built local businesses/alderman post security guards at all the intersections and tell motorists they have to stop, get out of their cars and walk, because driving cars on the road is dangerous and annoying for pedestrians. 

Unfortunately it would be a long list of new ordinances and locations to specify each spot where it is already hazardous to walk or drive in various parts of the city, and while they may offer some clarity that can be desirable to ensure safety or mitigate hazards in areas such as the Riverwalk.  Since the hazards have been recognized, the failure to mitigate them can be deemed even worse.  

However there is a modification in play with the proposed ordinance to address children under 12 riding there, because of the safety issues with cycling in this location.  Elsewhere, children under 12 ride their bikes on sidewalks, therefor that modification is being proposed at the ordinance level to set forth the prohibition here, and to require signage.

The entire matter is unfortunate and stems from the changes to the configurations and plans for the area, and is putting people who shouldn't be at odds with each other, and hopefully that will be resolved amicably soon.

Related, regarding children under 12 and biking on sidewalks, the matter of 20MPH ebikes for <12s on sidewalks remains contentious despite attention to this issue as well.


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