Eyes on the Street: Bus Stop Benches Removed to Prevent Loitering
Alternate headline: “Bus Stop Benches Removed to Prevent Passengers From Being Comfortable While Waiting for the Bus.”
A reader reports that an unknown number of benches in Uptown – some inside CTA bus stop shelters — have been removed in an attempt to reduce loitering. “A lot of businesses asked us to remove some of the benches due to people loitering there,” said 46th ward chief of staff Tressa Feher. “People who need[ed] to use the benches [couldn't] use them.” And now, they still can’t use them.
Asked if loitering has decreased, Feher replied, “absolutely.” As for where people are going to sit now, she said, “They are doing whatever they were doing before there were benches. There were also complaints from people who were using the bus stops.”
Our tipster, who asked to remain anonymous, understands the desire to prevent loitering, but says this is the wrong way to handle it:
I spoke to a man who works [at the UIC Public Health Clinic on Broadway/Montrose] and he said there were a lot of people who weren’t using the bus who would hang out and drink at the spot. That is a legitimate concern. I’d address it with policing and social services, not removing seats for the vast majority of people who aren’t causing trouble, but I’m not in charge.
He added that “having more interactions improves social results — that means putting more people in the streets, not fewer.” Where the bus stop bench at Sheridan and Montrose had been removed, he recently saw a man sitting on the sidewalk. “If you are homeless… removing a bench doesn’t deter you,” he wrote. “You just sit on the ground.”