Eyes on the street: Families take advantage of Humboldt Park’s car-free ring road

Santiago took advantage of the car-free drive this morning to teach his daughter Amelia how to ride a bike, while his son José cruised around in circles. Their mother Pamela and dog Chiple also joined in on the fun.  Photo: Michael Burton
Santiago took advantage of the car-free drive this morning to teach his daughter Amelia how to ride a bike, while his son José cruised around in circles. Their mother Pamela and dog Chiple also joined in on the fun. Photo: Michael Burton

Here’s a little taste of what opening Chicago streets up for safe, socially-distanced transportation and recreation during the pandemic might look like.

According to 14th District’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program, parking is banned on the ring road of Humboldt Park, Luis Muñoz Marín Drive, starting last night through Tuesday morning to prevent unsafe congregating during Memorial Day Weekend, such as large barbecues or sports matches. Gates have been locked to prevent vehicular access to the drive north of Division Street.

Photo: Martha Bayne
Photo: Martha Bayne

As a side benefit, a CAPS spokesperson said that it’s totally fine if people walk, roll wheelchairs, run, skate, scoot, skateboard, and bike on the car-free road. And local families are already taking advantage of the extra space for social distancing to do just that.

Nearby residents reported that so far crowding hasn’t been an issue at all on the drive, but if you go there, please remember to maintain six-foot-plus distances from non-household members, and it’s also a good idea to wear face masks or face coverings. And in the unlikely event that the road gets too crowded for safety, please go elsewhere to avoid a park closure.

Families cycling and strolling pass by one of Humboldt Park's many Puerto Rican food trucks. Photo: Stephanie Reid
Residents cycling and strolling pass by one of Humboldt Park’s several Puerto Rican food stands. Photo: Stephanie Reid

But perhaps we can consider this to be Chicago’s first attempt at doing Slow Streets during the pandemic. Imagine what it would be like if residents could walk, jog, and bike with young children on streets all over the city, with plenty of room for safety.

Watch a video of people using the car-free road here.

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