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

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

  • Steve

    I run on this revetment year-round and have been lucky I guess to have never encountered the algae, but maybe that’s because I go up a level when the waves would otherwise soak my shoes. I believe the bigger problem are the numerous holes in the concrete, at this exact spot, several big enough to swallow a football.

  • rohmen

    Not to be the downer here, but is a sign saying “Caution: Slippery When Wet” really going to help??

    That area is wet all the time given the waves, and this type of sign is likely to be ignored since people will assume it’s just talking about that issue (at least, that’s what I would think if I saw it not knowing the issue already). If people are really concerned about Algae making that area even more slippery than normal when wet, the sign needs to explicitly say something about that danger. This is just going to be cover for lawsuits as-is otherwise.