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With No Place to Grind Legally, BMXers Have Damaged Navy Pier Flyover Stonework

Catching air on the stonework under the Navy Pier Flyover. Photo: Lowell Nelson

The Navy Pier Flyover is literally taking longer to build than the Golden Gate Bridge, but unfortunately it’s already getting deconstructed.

Streetsblog reader Lowell Nelson says BMX riders have discovered that new stonework built by the Ohio Street underpass to the Lakefront Trail as part of the flyover project is suitable for rail riding, and they’ve been causing damage. “Grind marks can be seen on the edges of some of the stones and I found one paver a few feet away,” Nelson reported. “Looked to be attached with some kind of construction adhesive.”

Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, which is building the flyover, said he hadn’t previously heard about the problem. “The construction crew has been made aware of this and we are going to work to address it,” he told me. I'm guessing the city will install some metal studs along the stonework to deter rail riding by BMX riders and skateboarders.

But you know what’s even more effective for keeping bored young people from trashing public property with bikes and boards? Giving them safe, legal places to ride and skate. Chicago has done a good job with this when it comes to skateboarding, by building skate parks in Grant Park, at 31st Street and Wilson on the Lakefront Trail, and underneath the Kennedy Expressway on Logan Boulevard, providing a positive outlet for healthy recreation.

The stonework and the damage done. Photo: John Greenfield
The stonework and the damage done. Photos: Lowell Nelson
The stonework and the damage done. Photo: John Greenfield

But you’re not supposed to ride BMX bikes on any of those skate ramps and jumps. The Chicago Park District was planning to install a “wheel-friendly plaza” at the east end of the Bloomingdale Trail in Walsh Park, which would have welcomed both cyclists and skaters. But that plan was recently scrapped, partly due to neighbors’ fears about the facility attracting “a different element” to the upscale Bucktown neighborhood.

Thanks to that NIMBYism, there will be one less bike park, which means we’ll see more damage to public property by BMX riders who don’t have a legal place to grind.

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