Eyes on the Street: Cycling the Solar Eclipse
If you were planning on taking part in the solar eclipse festival at the Adler Planetarium today, bicycling was the way to go. (Did any readers ride Amtrak’s special service to downstate Carbondale to catch the total eclipse? Tickets sold out in less than 24 hours.)
The revetment along Solidarity Drive, the road that leads out to the planetarium, was swarmed with skywatchers, but it seemed that most people left their cars at home. The railing on the ramp leading from the drive to the Lakefront Trail was completely covered with bikes. I didn’t see any special bike parking area for private bikes, which is probably why.
On the other hand, the Divvy valet station at the planetarium had zillions of cycles neatly stacked in rows, which suggests that many residents and visitors chose this smart way to get to the crowded event.
I myself had a memorable ride to Northerly Island from my home in Uptown, zigzagging across the North Side in search of the special glasses that would preserve my sight. For only a true fool would gaze directly at the sun during a partial eclipse.
My search took me to Revere Park and Hamlin Park in North Center, and Adams Playground Park in Lincoln Park, but all the eclipse glasses had been claimed. The latter green space, however, a tot lot with an amazing mini-water park, did have a sound system blasting Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”
Finally I was able to pick up a pair at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, where people were also gazing through a large cardboard tube, a camera obscura of sorts that afforded a view of a small white crescent on a sheet of paper.
When I gazed at the sun with my safety glasses, I saw the same image in bright yellow on a black background. It’s too bad one can’t take photographs of exactly what you see in your head.
Then I made my way over to the Lakefront Trail, full of people gazing southward with safety gear, then made my way south through the Loop to the planetarium’s peninsula.
It may have been only a partial eclipse, but navigating on two wheels the many scenes of Chicagoans staring in unison towards a common goal was a totally awesome experience.