CITY HALL — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her security should not have parked in a Humboldt Park bike lane so she could buy doughnuts, a move that was caught in photos and has generated controversy.
Bike Lane Uprising, a bicyclist advocacy group, on Nov. 9 shared a photo of two cars parked in the North Avenue bike lane outside Roeser’s Bakery, 3216 W. North Ave. The photo appears to shows an officer getting into a car, with the original photographer saying the car was part of Lightfoot’s security caravan of two large SUVs.
The original poster also shared a photo of what appeared to be Lightfoot inside Roeser’s.
Block Club Chicago reached out to the Mayor’s Office multiple times for requests for comment before publishing a story Wednesday about the incident. At a news conference later that day, Lightfoot said her security shouldn’t have parked in the bike lane.
“The first I heard of this is the reports in the media,” Lightfoot said. “Obviously, they shouldn’t have parked in the bike lane. Pretty simple. No bike lanes. No fire hydrants. They shouldn’t have done it. Period.”
A Mayor’s Office spokesperson then responded to a previous email from Block Club, saying the mayor had spoken about the incident at the news conference.
The mayor has faced heavy criticism from the city’s bicyclist community over the photos.
“A RECORD NUMBER OF CYCLISTS HAVE BEEN KILLED DURING YOUR TERM,” Bike Lane Uprising wrote on Twitter when sharing the photos. “We need a mayor that leads by example. This ain’t it.”
People replying to the tweet noted Roeser’s is connected to a parking lot and questioned why bicyclists were put at risk for Lightfoot to buy doughnuts.
Bike Lane Uprising also pointed out Lightfoot tweeted about safe bike lanes only a few hours after its post about her parking in the bike lane.
“It is just egregious,” said Christina Whitehouse, founder of Bike Lane Uprising. “It wasn’t an emergency, and there are safe alternatives. But she went to park in the bike lanes where a safe parking place is available, showing that she would endanger the lives of Chicagoans for some doughnuts.”
While cycling advocates and groups such as Bike Lane Uprising have pushed for safety upgrades for years, their calls have taken on renewed urgency as the numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians being killed by drivers have risen during the pandemic.
Among their asks: Safe transportation advocates have called for the city to crack down on drivers who park in bike lanes, with Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) pushing a measure that would have drivers’ cars towed if they parked in bike lanes. He and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) have also suggested the city could tow cars if videos prove they drove, idled or parked in a bike lane.
Vasquez made the proposals after a semi-truck driver hit and killed 3-year-old Elizabeth “Lily” Grace Shambrook as her mother and she tried to ride around a truck parked in a bike lane in Uptown. The fatal crash happened in June.
“In our ward, families have lost babies because we as a city can’t properly address this,” Vasquez said on Twitter last week. “Cyclists every single day contact us about the dangers they have to face just to get from point a to point b. Lives are at stake here. We need action, not more blocking, Mayor.”
Lightfoot has promised to improve infrastructure for bicyclists, saying the city will add concrete protections to protected bike lanes and will create more protected bike lanes.
But some parts of those newly installed barriers have already been damaged.
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