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


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.

  • Can someone explain why they don’t at least use electric carts?

  • mikeschwab

    Have them drop by Kozy’s and get some electric bikes.

  • Steve Jensen

    If the noisy ATVs chase the criminals, then suck it up.

  • Austin Milbarge

    “the vehicle takes almost half the width of the paved portion of the trail”
    LOL, stop clutching your pearls John, no one was even on the path and that’s evident in your video.
    Never read a more whiny article with such trumped up BS…must be a slow news day for ya..

  • Pat

    Because they already had these sitting around and the boys want to use their toys.

  • Pat

    CPD has been vague about when the ATVs are going to be used. Are they only to patrol/clear the trail at night? Sure, then it’s not a big deal. During a weekend day, these have no place on the 606.

  • David Altenburg

    I think it’s a big deal if they use them at night because my bedroom is level with the trail. I was actually surprised out how loud it was went the officer went by last night (right as I was about to fall asleep, mind you). I know there are others whose homes are even closer to the trail than my own.

    I would feel differently if there was a *reason* to use these vehicles, as opposed to bicycles, or failing that, cleaner, quieter, more nimble electric vehicles, but I’ve yet to hear one. I’d be surprised if these vehicles could even get down the ramp at Drake.

  • Pat

    I guess to me it didn’t sound any louder than the vehicles that go by my apartment every minute. But yes, I agree, the reasoning behind this implementation is specious.

  • neroden

    Looks like the criminals are the ones on the ATVs, which if I’m not mistaken *aren’t allowed on the trail*. But I guess cops think they’re above the law

  • lykorian

    I thought the goal was to apprehend them.

  • rduke

    Quiet bikes can chase criminals too.

  • Jacob Wilson

    Most Americans would probably let you throw them off a bridge if you told them it would ‘improve public safety’.

  • Kelly Pierce

    Are the officers patrolling the Bloomingdale Trail fit or
    fat? The video does not clearly show the officer’s physical condition. If they
    were on regular police bikes, do the cops look like they could out race a criminal
    on a bicycle for an arrest? Is the use
    of ATVs because officers may not feel comfortable with bicycle patrols?

  • Guy Ross

    From the video: Who will hear the guy who just got mugged with a blow to his head moaning in the weeds to the side of the trail – the guy on the bike or the guy on the ATV?

    What about the woman being dragged down the incline by an attacker at California – the guy on the bike or the guy on the ATV?

    This is a great snapshot of how decision making in the CPD in general is not results based. Just like riding around in cars waiting to be dispatched and then complaining that the job sucks and blaming everyone else but themselves for rising crime rates.

  • Guy Ross

    Driving by on that thing you the cop would need to be raped to even realize a crime was being committed.