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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Burke: Don’t Bend Over Backwards to Facilitate Driving at the Lincoln Hub

|
The Lincoln Hub placemaking project, which created curb extensions and seating plazas at Lakeview’s Lincoln/Wellington/Southport intersection with posts, planters, and colorful paint dots, has been highly controversial. Pedestrians have said they like how the initiative makes walking safer and more pleasant, and every time I’ve visited, traffic was flowing smoothly. However, the chief of staff […]