Is Late-Night Commuting on The 606 Kosher? Police, Park District Disagree

Photo: John Greenfield

The Bloomingdale Trail, aka The 606, is a 2.7-mile walking and cycling corridor that connects many destinations across the Near Northwest Side and intersects with several key bike routes. Some 80,000 residents live within a half mile of the path. As such, it’s a no-brainer that people should be allowed use it for commuting 24/7, just like on Lakefront Trail.

However, that’s not currently the case. Steven Vance and I have heard several reports of people who were biking on the Bloomingdale after 11 p.m. being stopped by police officers and asked to leave. “The elephant in the room regarding the Bloomingdale Trail is its operating hours,” one reader told us.

He said he was recently biking home on the trail around 11:30 p.m. when he was flagged down by officers. They checked his ID and told him the linear park is closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., like other Chicago Park District properties. The police were polite and friendly, and they let him continue home on the path, but warned him he would be ticketed next time, the reader said.

I dropped by the Bloomingdale after dark for my first time last night around 10 p.m., when there were plenty of people taking advantage of the balmy weather by cycling and strolling, including entire families walking with kids and grandparents. Officers were patrolling the path on bicycles. It was heartwarming to see so many residents out for exercise and relaxation in the safe, car-free space.

As I was leaving the trail just before 11, I asked the police whether commuting on the trail on foot or bike is permitted after the park officially closes. They politely told me that, currently, it is not. “The rule might be revamped in the future but, right now, while the trail is still new, you have to leave after 11,” one officer said.

Police officers patrol the Bloomingdale Trail. Photo: John Greenfield

After speaking to a contact at the 14th Police District, which is responsible for security on the Bloomingdale, Police spokeswoman Janel Sedevic told me that this is, in fact, the police department’s current policy. “Officers go through the park at 11 p.m. to make sure it is empty, and if there’s a call with a complaint after 11, they’ll go check it out,” she said.

The thing is, that doesn’t jibe with the policy of the park district, which owns the trail and its access parks. Spokeswoman Michele Lemons told me that – like the Lakefront Trail – nonstop walking and biking is allowed on The 606 after hours due to an ingress and egress provision in the park district code.

“This allows commuters to use paths through our parks, including The 606, for transportation,” Lemons said. “In other words, if someone is on a bike or walking and they are actively moving during [curfew] hours, then they are free to use the trail without questions from the park district or officers.”

When I notified police and park district representatives that their policies are in conflict, they promised to look into the issue. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide an update in the near future. In the meantime, keep in mind that if you are walking or biking on the Bloomingdale after 11, you may be ordered to amscray.

  • Jack Crowe

    Nice to see a police officer without a helmet!

  • Well, many CPD officers think the Lakefront Trail is closed at night too.

  • duppie

    Nice use of the word amscray, John!

  • I agree. The Bloomingdale Trail is a different environment than our car-filled streets.

  • Kevin M

    Thanks so much for investigating this, John!

  • viachicago

    Its funny you mention the Lakefront Trail as a 24/7 commuting option, as I have regularly been diverted off the trail post 11PM by officers.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Just the nature of the beast. There will be neighborhood complaints if you have large gatherings of individuals on the trail past 11:00 pm, especially if they are partying. Often times this forces police into total crackdown mode. Time will tell.

  • It’s clearly more dangerous with that flash-flooding potential.

  • David Altenburg

    Thanks for investigating this! Interesting that the Park District and Police District disagree (CPD v CPD?). I hope it gets cleared up soon.

  • Tyler Doerschuk

    Solid reporting John, I was wondering the same thing myself

  • Maybe the police should be wearing life preservers instead of helmets.

  • tg113

    why do you have to say the police were polite. is this some sort of bs chikawgo pride to cover up the pushy police the city has. fact, cops abuse their power. it’s been caught on tape and police have been fired or sent to prison for their crimes while on duty. so why try to brainwash people saying “the police were polite” lol he said amscray, he must be “cool”. shucks! the people in chicago are so nice, the police are friendly, chicago must be heaven, is this heaven?

  • tg113

    how stupid of a law, if you keep moving it’s ok, but if you stop you are breaking the law. so what if someone has to take a breath are they in danger of getting a ticket. oh wait the police are polite, so they will understand. whew! how wonderful law is. it’s so understanding. yay law.

  • Email us if it happens again.

  • Adam Blair

    I wonder if closing the trail after 11:00 PM will result in higher crime by making the space desolate.

  • BlueFairlane

    I think a lot of that depends on how non-desolate it would be if they left it open. Would there really be enough traffic on the trail at, say, 2 on a Tuesday morning to count on the effect of crowds you suggest? I suspect any difference from one scenario to the other is negligible.

    (That said, I hope the CPD eventually works its way past this and leaves it open.)

  • neroden

    This is a fairly typical case of “police never bothered to look up the law”. So I hope that by notifying them of the actual regulations and the Park District interpretation of said regulations, that they’ll start behaving appropriately.

    On the other hand, this is the deeply corrupt and violent Chicago Police. So they might not.

    We’ll see. Hopefully they do the right thing.