Video: Police on Noisy ATVs Have Begun to Invade the Bloomingdale Trail

The police ATVs take up half the width of the paved path. Image: Steven Vance
The police ATVs take up half the width of the paved path. Image: Steven Vance

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As I discussed last week, the 14th Police District’s plan to patrol the Bloomingdale Trail, aka The 606, on all-terrain vehicles makes no sense. They have virtually no benefits over patrolling the path by bicycle, since bike are much more maneuverable (a huge advantage when the trail is crowded), cycles with saddlebags have almost as much carrying capacity, they don’t burn gas, and they provide healthy physical activity for the officers. Even the potential speed advantage of the ATVs isn’t much of an issue since the trail is less than three miles long.

Moreover, the Bloomingdale was intended to be a respite from the many negative aspects of motorized traffic. These wide, loud, gas-guzzling recreational vehicles will spoil that tranquility and increase the chance of crashes on the trail.

Chicago police officer rides an ATV on the Bloomingdale Trail from Steven Vance on Vimeo.

It’s a bummer to report that officers on ATVs have already started making The 606 less safe and pleasant. As you can see and hear from this short video Steven Vance took at 10:40 p.m. last night, the vehicle takes almost half the width of the paved portion of the trail and, even traveling at walking speed, its motor is pretty loud.

And if officers are only going to cruise down the trail at a few miles an hour, why not just patrol on bike, or eon foot? Oh right, because ATVs are fun to ride and don’t require any physical exertion.

The good news is, it seems unlikely that people living next to the Bloomingdale will tolerate frequent ATV activity outside their windows. Many of them pushed for the police to enforce an 11 p.m. curfew on the path because they were worried about noise from people partying there after hours. So the neighbors probably aren’t going to accept the recurrent use of a device that sounds and smells like a lawnmower on steroids without putting up a fight.

This post is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices, P.C., a Chicago, Illinois law firm committed to representing pedestrians and cyclists. The content is Streetsblog Chicago’s own, and Keating Law Offices neither endorses the content nor exercises any editorial control.

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