Eyes on the Street: The Perks of Being a Federal Employee

Vehicles parked on the sidewalk by the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Photo: J. Patrick Lynch

Our colleagues at Streetsblog NYC frequently report on the problem of public employees, especially police officers, abusing their authority by blocking sidewalks and bike lanes with their vehicle. While Chicago police cars and other city vehicles are occasionally spotted in bike lanes and crosswalks in our city, sidewalk parking doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue here. However, it does happen from time to time.

Streetsblog Chicago reader J. Patrick Lynch passed along these photos of this phenomenon at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the triangular federal prison located on Clark Street between Van Buren and LaSalle Street. Even though the jail has an attached seven-story parking garage, Lynhc spotted several employee cars parked on the sidewalk, as well as a box truck.

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Photo: J. Patrick Lynch

While the sidewalk is wide enough that people on foot can pass the illegally parked vehicles, still represents a basic lack of respect for pedestrian space. The Jeep is the most egregious example, as it obscures the view of people leaving the driveway,” Lynch noted.

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Same as it ever was. Vehicles parked on the sidewalk by the prison in 2007 and 2013. Images: Google Street View.

Judging from numerous Google Street View images of the site shot over the last decade, this situation is the rule rather than an exception. Just about all of the six archived Street Views show employee vehicles and delivery trucks on the sidewalk.

  • Anne A

    I sometimes have trouble accessing the adjacent Divvy station due to vehicles parked there. The box truck is there pretty much every day. When I’m at that location, it’s usually just the box truck. Things can get *interesting* when there are additional vehicles, because they tend to interfere with ped traffic AND Divvy access.

  • Todd Farkas

    #1 – “While the sidewalk is wide enough that people on foot can pass”
    #2 – Has John Greenfield or J. Patrick Lynch ever called 911 to report these scofflaws?

  • Jeff Przybylski

    You mean 911 – the phone number used to report emergencies?

  • Anton Cermak

    I don’t think it would even matter if they called – I’m not sure if the City has the authority to ticket federal property.

  • The sidewalk is almost certainly city-owned right-of-way, although there is the question of where the property line is located.

  • Anton Cermak

    Yeah, I’m not sure, really…just a thought that occured to me. An interesting question to think about in terms of processes.

    Northeastern University, for example, has deigned to ignore the City on zoning matters citing the fact that they are the superior government body and not subject to the rules and regulations of an inferior one. Happened previously when UIC constructed their Circle Campus as well. Those are obviously larger issues than a parking citation though.

  • Kelly Pierce

    If someone wanted to complain about this, to whom would one complain? I want to be an effective champion of pedestrian and bike access not a victim.

  • In Chicago, calling 311 to report these sort of obstructions (and any other non-emergency) results in being redirected to 911 every time.
    There is no non-emergency police line in Chicago.

  • what_eva

    The IL Supreme Court recently ruled in a case involving Crystal Lake South HS and the city of Crystal Lake that other government bodies *are* subject to city zoning laws. That decision would seem to apply to NEIU and UIC going forward.


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