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Moss Designs: Park District Is Putting Up Signage to Warn Cyclists About Lakefront Algae

4:47 PM CDT on September 15, 2017

Cyclists on the revetment by the Adler Planetarium last week. Photo: John Greenfield

After cyclist Stephanie Reid wiped out on lakefront algae and broke her arm on Labor Day, the Chicago Park District cleaned off the green stuff from the crash site, the concrete revetment on the north side of Solidarity Drive, between the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Thanks to some advocacy by 4th Ward alderman Sophia King’s office, the park district is going a step further by putting in some signage to warn bike riders and joggers about the green menace.

Reid reached out to the alderman last Friday via email. She noted that her crash wasn’t just a freak occurance:

After I fell, a couple sitting on the steps informed me that I was the second person they'd seen fall in that exact same spot that morning. A half hour later, my partner slipped and fell there as well. Fortunately, he was able to walk away with only road rash and some bruises. While he was down, two other cyclists fell…

Given its proximity to the water, there is potential for a true tragedy to occur here because of this algae. If I'd fallen into the lake with a broken shoulder, I could have drowned.

I urge you to take swift action on this matter so nobody else gets hurt. I feel that it could be easily avoided with warning signs, or even barricades along the lake as I've seen on other parts of the trail.

This week King’s assistant Prentice Butler got in touch with the park district. This afternoon he reported back to Reid that the park district is adding signs that say “Caution: Slippery When Wet”

“Alderman King is very constituent services-oriented, so she wanted me to resolve this as soon as possible,” Butler told me.

Putting up warning signs is certainly an easy, commonsense solution that the park district should have done immediately after they learned of Reid’s crash to prevent additional injuries. But it just goes to show, when it comes to getting bike safety improvements, even small ones, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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