Guards Endanger 606 Users While Chasing a Cyclist

Guards shouldn't be patrolling the path in SUVs, and they definitely shouldn't be speeding down the trail to confront cyclists.

A man in a Chicago Park District "security" SUV appears to point at or grab at Brian Bauer, the cyclist who recorded this video.
A man in a Chicago Park District "security" SUV appears to point at or grab at Brian Bauer, the cyclist who recorded this video.

Update 10/10/18: The park district provided the following statement on the use of SUVs to patrol the Bloomingdale Trail: “The safety of our park patrons is paramount. The Chicago Park District continues to utilize sport utility vehicles to patrol our facilities, including The 606.  All security officers operating patrol vehicles are instructed to use caution and drive slow to observe any person in distress or to observe any criminal activity on the path.”

Video from a bike-mounted camera (contains NSFW language), posted last night on Instagram by Brian Bauer, shows two park district security guards in a Chicago Park District SUV recklessly pursuing a bicyclist on the Bloomingdale Trail after he called them out for blocking the 14-foot-wide trail with their vehicle.

In the 29-second clip, the camera-wielder rides up behind the SUV, which is parked or moving very slowly in the middle of the elevated trail, also known as The 606, with its lights flashing. “On your left!” the bicyclist yells while approaching the vehicle, then adds “You’re on a f—ing path!” as the bicyclist passes the driver-side window.

Granted, this wasn’t the most diplomatic approach, but the guards’ response escalated the incident into a potentially tragic situation.

Chicago Park District SUV catching up to a bicyclist
The Chicago Park District security guards speed after a bicyclist.

After the bicyclist rides by the SUV, we see him pass another cyclist. Then we hear the SUV ‘s horn blaring and the camera turns back down the path to capture the vehicle speeding towards him, apparently after passing the biking bystander at high speed. The bearded passenger sticks his head out the window and points at the bicyclist, perhaps yelling something. “You’re on a path!” the bicyclist repeats as the guards speed off down the 2.7-mile greenway.

Motor vehicles that aren’t being used to respond to emergencies or for landscaping work do not belong on a recreational path where people of all ages may be walking, biking, jogging, and skating. When the Chicago Police Department started patrolling the trail with ATVs rather than just bikes last year, Streetsblog Chicago pointed out why that’s a bad idea.

Obviously, having security guards in SUVs cruising and blocking the trail makes even less sense. But if the park district is going to do this, the guards certainly shouldn’t be endangering trail users, including innocent bystanders, by speeding down the path to settle a grudge.

The Chicago Park District said they are investigating the incident.

  • kastigar

    Will the Park District make available the results of “investigating the incident” and will be results be posted here or elsewhere?

  • Yes, I asked them this morning to share the results.

    I’m guessing that it was my question to the Park District spokesperson that made them aware of this incident.

  • Mitchell Brown

    I haven’t owned a car since 1999. I use my bike to get around for fun and transportation.

    This cyclist was/is a dick.

    I want the Bloomingdale Trail patrolled.

    This guy could’ve simply slowed down from his Lance Armstrong sprint, audibly said: “On your left” like a normal, well-adjusted non-dickhead, and kept going.

    Both were in the wrong.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Yes, the cyclist’s behavior is not a best practice. But there’s a big difference between a cyclist overreacting to a driver blocking a bikeway and a motorist speeding down down a bike path endangering bystanders.

  • Kurtis P

    We really need to demand better. As stated, motor vehicles do not belong on any paths unless in emergency situations. I’m even more enraged today after sleeping on this video. It’s absurd.

  • TCNA

    union employees always seem to think they can do whatever they want

  • Jonathan Seligman

    How do you know their union affiliation? I think your baiting here, but I’ll bite.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Hey folks, let’s not go off on a pro-union / anti-union tangent here, which isn’t particularly relevant to the post. Thanks.

  • Jeremy

    “I want the Bloomingdale Trail patrolled.”

    Can’t it be patrolled by officers on bikes?

  • Hercules Casey

    I’m guessing, that if you’re right, they’re social media team needs some guidance on what to report to the spokesperson. “They” @chicagoparks were tagged in the orginal video

  • bikefreeek

    So, was there an attempt to contact the Chicago Park District before the story was posted?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Yes, see the last sentence of the story.

  • CIAC

    I won’t go on a tangent. But I will point out that I would suspect that both the time and the outcome of the Park District’s investigation of the incident would be widely different based on whether or not the employee is unionized. So I disagree that it isn’t particularly relevant.

  • SteveWilmos

    I’ve had a campus security squad car come up on me out of nowhere while we were taking a walk around the walking path by the campus duck pond one evening years ago. No one was confronting anyone, but it scared the crap out of us to suddenly see a car on the path come up from behind like that. Usually it was just the little golf carts zooming around faster than they should.

    This gave me a bit of a flashback, but this is blatant harassment. The guy was probably startled to have questioned their presence like that, but I doubt the response would’ve been much different without the F-bomb, given the aggression displayed. It pays to record, I guess.

  • I see cops on bikes all the time. Why can’t the security personnel on the bike path actually use bikes? No need for an oversized SUV. If anything a Prius or minicooper. It’s not even big enough to require a motorized vehicle, I have ridden end to end in just 7 minutes so any emergency on the trail could still be addressed quickly by security using bikes. They would also blend in more with the crowd and be more likely to catch someone doing something shady as opposed to a huge white SUV with lights and sirens.

  • But the cyclist isn’t paid to be professional, the professional security guards are. They were indeed blocking the entire trail when there was plenty of room to pull over. Sure, the cyclist didn’t have to be a dick about it but that’s his business, as he is not paid to be professional, the security officers are and nothing either of them did was professional or responsible.

  • neroden

    Driving cars on bike paths needs to be flat-out illegal and prosecuted as reckless driving (with license revocations and jail sentences).

    Security guards can damn well get bicycles. There are lots of bicycle cops already.

  • Sally Wright McLinn

    What happened to security on bikes? or even golf carts?

  • Joel N. Weber II

    Does that mean you think we should simply not build bike paths in cases where an electric company owns a former railroad right of way, instead of the compromise where a bike path is built and utility repair trucks are allowed to drive on the bike path?

  • Carter O’Brien

    A vehicle that needs to be on a bike path in order to make a repair is obviously not in the same category as regular vehicular patrols. There is no substitute for the former, whereas there are indeed bike cops already patrolling the LFT. Why would this be treated differently?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG