In a case of thinking locally and acting globally, state rep Jaime Andrade (40th) introduced legislation that would have banned the installation of bike-share stations in front of all Illinois schools, not long after a Divvy station was placed by the school he co-founded.
Last year, the Chicago Department of Transportation installed the Divvy station at the Cardinal Bernadin Early Childhood Center, a Catholic Montessori school located at 1651 West Diversey, in a no parking zone near the building’s Paulina entrance. Andrade, whose district includes parts of the Northwest Side but not the school, describes himself as a founding member of the school’s board in his bio on the Illinois General Assembly’s website.
On May 21, Andrade sponsored HB6239, a bill that would have amended the Illinois Municipal Code with the following language:
No bicycle sharing system may operate a docking station in an area with posted signs that expressly prohibit parking at any time or during certain hours that is adjacent to any elementary or secondary school in any municipality.
The bill also included a provision against local municipalities overriding the ban via home rule.
When I talked to Andrade yesterday, he said he’s a actually a fan of Divvy. “It’s a great, great program,” he said. “I think we should keep expanding bike-share all over the city and the state.” He added that he used to ride a bike in Chicago before a knee injury stopped him, usually gets around by public transportation and carpooling, and his car is a 1985 Chevy Cavalier that probably wouldn’t even survive the trip to the state capital.
Andrade said the bill was intended to address safety issues. “It’s strictly saying that the stations should not be in front of schools in the no-parking zone,” he said. He argued that bike-share stations could be an obstruction in the case of a fire, and that the stations’ advertising placards block the sightlines for children crossing the street.
“Plus, kids will be kids, and they might use the stations as a playground. They might climb a bike and fall off into the street,” Andrade added. It appears the Bernadin station might also pose a minor inconvenience for parents driving up to the steps of the school to pick up their kids. Of course, Divvy stations also makes it easier for school faculty and staff, as well as students over age 16, to commute to their schools.
The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee, which Andrade said means it is essentially dead in the water. “It doesn’t even have to pass as a bill,” he said. “I just wanted to raise awareness about this and make it Chicago policy.”
The Divvy station in front of Bernadin, one of a tiny minority of Chicago’s 300 stations installed by schools, was still in place as of this morning. Local Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) did not respond to a request for comment, and CDOT spokesman Pete Scales declined to comment on the issue.
However, Active Transportation Alliance director Ron Burke said Andrade’s attempt to regulate Divvy locations from Springfield was a case of micromanagement. “The state legislature doesn’t need to be refereeing Divvy locations,” he said. “Leave that to the residents, the aldermen, and the City Council.”