That Insane Detour Drivers Took Through Jackson Park Was a Police Officer’s Idea

Motorists drive on bike-ped paths and grass in Jackson Park to get around a crash on Lake Shore Drive. Image: Sarah Jindra, WGN via Twitter
Motorists drive on bike-ped paths and grass in Jackson Park to get around a crash on Lake Shore Drive. Image: Sarah Jindra, WGN via Twitter

Last Thursday morning you might have seen the alarming helicopter footage WGN traffic reporter Sarah Jindra tweeted out, showing the crazy alternative route motorists took in the aftermath of a crash that shut down traffic on Lake Shore Drive in Hyde Park. It appears that a police officer was responsible for that dangerous detour.

The aftermath of the crash on a Lake Shore Drive bridge. Photo: Sarah Jindra, WGN News via Twitter
The aftermath of the crash on a Lake Shore Drive bridge. Photo: Sarah Jindra, WGN News via Twitter

Just before 7 a.m., two southbound drivers collided south of 57th Street and the Museum of Science and Industry. When their vehicles came to a stop on a bridge just east of the Museum Shores Yacht Club, one of the cars lay across both southbound lanes of the drive. (Plans for the nearby Obama Presidential Center site call for adding a third southbound lane between 57th and Hayes Drive/63rd Street.)

A video Jindra posted shows a long line of drivers who exited LSD just before the bridge and drove on paths in Jackson Park and across grass to get around the wreckage. In the footage the motorists can be seen driving around the yacht club’s harbor, and going around the perimeter of some tennis courts before getting on a bike-pedestrian path on the west side of the highway. Presumably they got back on roads at the intersection of LSD and Hayes.

The detour route was something like this. Image: Google Maps
The detour route was something like this. Image: Google Maps

Some of the motorists appeared to be driving at a fast clip through the park, which obviously could have resulted in tragedy if anyone jogging or cycling on the paths had been taken by surprise. Especially troubling was the fact that a CTA articulated bus was part of this ill-conceived caravan – you can see bus getting temporarily stuck in the video. You’d think a professional bus driver would know better than to attempt such a reckless detour.

A CTA bus gets stuck during the detour. Image: Sarah Jindra, WGN via Twitter
A CTA bus gets stuck during the detour. Image: Sarah Jindra, WGN via Twitter

CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski says the questionable maneuver wasn’t the driver’s fault, so they won’t be punished. “The operator of the bus was ordered by police to exit Lake Shore Drive,” Hosinski said via email. “S/he wouldn’t be subject to disciplinary action because S/he was following police orders.”

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department was unable to confirm this. But assuming Hosinski’s statement is accurate, it’s good to know that this ill-advised detour wasn’t the bus driver’s fault. But it’s definitely it’s problematic that a police officer thought it was a good idea to send a long line of vehicles zooming through Jackson Park, tearing up the grass and potentially endangering park users.

  • Robert Kania

    So we should just leave everyone stuck on LSD? “Dangerous Caravan” was moving at about 10mph.

  • Tooscrapps

    The officer should have either made them turn around at Science drive or instruct them to proceed slowly against the one-way Columbia to hook up with 57th detour.

    Failures all around. There is no excuse for the bus driver. Many times I have been stuck on LSD because of a crash and just had to sit wait for it to clear. Dem the breaks.

  • Tooscrapps

    The author never used the term “Dangerous Caravan”.

    The detour undoubtedly dangerous though. Those other cars though? Yah, they were going faster than 10mph down a PARK PATH!

  • johnaustingreenfield

    True, I called the detour “dangerous” and described the line of cars as a “caravan,” but I never used the phrase “dangerous caravan.” However, that would make a great name for a hair metal band.

  • Tooscrapps

    Once they got past the tennis courts, they opened it up. Can’t pass up a straightaway.

  • kevin_chicago9

    And the answer is yes, we should just leave everyone stuck on LSD if the only alternative is to detour them onto a pedestrian and cycling path.

  • Does anyone know if the East Lagoon bridge is rated for buses? I know that it’s of the same vintage as the closed (due to deterioration) bridge at the north of the lagoon.

  • Dennis McClendon

    The only evidence offered that the “detour was a police officer’s idea” is the bus driver’s statement that he was directed to exit Lake Shore Drive. The officer who did so wasn’t leading the caravan or giving further directions. He undoubtedly assumed motorists would go through the Museum of Science & Industry parking lot to rejoin Cornell Drive—not that they would drive across the grass next to the tennis courts.

  • Mike

    Here’s the thing – the bridge and those paths are not clearly and explicitly marked for pedestrian/bike use only, nor clearly prohibited to vehicles. In fact, cars drive that same route pretty frequently, from both the north and south. People drive to the dog park at the tennis courts and to the lawn bowling area. They park on the bridge and picnic in the grass nearby. They drive from the parking lot on Hayes all the way to the golf driving range. In the summer, the amount of cars driving within Jackson Park is pretty surprising.

  • ardecila

    Disagreed here. Gotta get the stranded drivers/vehicles out somehow. If these were CTA riders stuck in a subway tunnel by a derailment, would you still argue they shouldn’t be evacuated?

    Ideally LSD would have removable sections in the median like it does on the North Side. Not sure why it doesn’t have them here.

  • kevin_chicago9

    No, putting drivers on a pedestrian and bicycling facility and putting vulnerable road users (i.e. pedestrians and bicyclists) in harms way is NOT EVER the answer. The comparison to CTA riders in a subway has no relevance to this discussion.

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