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Mapped: Here’s where Willie Wilson will be creating traffic jams and smog on Thursday

5:32 PM CDT on March 22, 2022

Here’s where you can expect horrible traffic congestion and lots of noxious exhaust emissions on Thursday morning in Chicago and suburban Cook County. Image: John Greenfield via Google Maps

Yesterday I discussed in depth why free gas giveaways by wealthy, attention-seeking political hopefuls like millionaire Chicago entrepreneur Dr. Willy Wilson, a socially conservative recent Trump supporter who's likely going to make a third vanity mayoral run next year, are harmful and shouldn't be allowed. To recap, his giveaway of $200,000 of fuel in $50 increments last Thursday morning at 10 Chicago gas station caused horrific traffic jams and generated harmful tailpipe emissions while requiring an increased police presence, almost exclusively in Black and Latino communities. And the giveaway didn't even have much benefit for the drivers who eventually made it to the pumps (many never got that far), because those motorist burned gallons of fuel and hours of time while idling in lines several blocks long.

Almost all of the 10 gas stations from last week's giveaway were in Black (green on map) or Latino (orange) communities. Image: John Greenfield via the Racial Dot Map
Almost all of the 10 gas stations from last week's giveaway in Chicago were in Black (green on map) or Latino (orange) communities. Image: John Greenfield via the Racial Dot Map
Almost all of the 10 gas stations from last week's giveaway were in Black (green on map) or Latino (orange) communities. Image: John Greenfield via the Racial Dot Map

Moreover, the many Chicagoans who can't afford to drive or are physically unable to do so received little or no benefit from this publicity stunt. First responders, CTA bus riders, and car commuters were all delayed by the awful traffic congestion, while the worsened air quality negatively impacted the disproportionate number of South and West side residents with asthma. As Chicago historian Sherman “Dilla” Thomas, who thought Wilson's intentions were good, wrote in an op-ed in the local news and culture website The TriiBE, “Giving back shouldn’t have a zero-sum gain and ultimately, that’s how I would rate the great gas giveaway of 2022.”

The Daily Southtown reported that multiple south- and west-suburban police forces are also planning to divert resources to keeping the peace (multiple Twitter commenters expressed concerns that flaring tempers in the long lines could escalate to violence) and dealing with the inevitable congestion headaches. "It’s certainly a traffic control concern... given the magnitude of the lines we have seen so far,” said Oak Forest police chief Jason Reid. “It’s kind of the height of the rush hour.”

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Race and ethnicity in Cook County (light blue is non-Hispanic white, orange is African-American, red is Hispanic, dark blue is Asian-American) based on 2020 census data, and the gas giveaway locations. Images: CNN and John Greenfield via Google Maps
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As you can see above, the giveaway locations are once again almost exclusively in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods and suburbs, which in Chicagoland almost always correlate with low-income or blue-collar areas. On the one hand, it's good that free stuff is being concentrated in communities that have the most economic need. But, again, the negative impacts of congestion, pollution, and increased policing will also be concentrated in those neighborhoods and 'burbs.

One thing's for sure, if we're going to let wealthy politicians do gas giveaways, we should make them pay for the extra police time, and ideally compensate the general public for the wasted productivity and environmental degradation caused by their vanity traffic jams.

Here's the list of locations from an ABC Chicago report:

Austin
Shell at 6129 W North Ave, Chicago, IL

South Austin
Citgo at 5103 W Madison Ave, Chicago, IL
Citgo at 5150 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL

Rogers Park
Amoco at 7201 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

Gage Park
Shell at 5230 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL

Washington Park
Super Save at 48 E Garfield Blvd, Chicago, IL

Humboldt Park
Citgo at 1345 N Pulaski, Chicago, IL

Fernwood
9901 S Halsted, Chicago, IL

East Garfield Park
Marathon at 340 S. Sacramento Blvd, Chicago, IL

Roseland
Super Save at 11100 S State Street, Chicago, IL
9452 S Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL

Park Manor
Citgo at 6700 S Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL

Grand Crossing
BP at 7600 South Chicago, Chicago, IL

North Center
BP at 3955 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL

Bridgeport
Citgo at 501 W 31st St., Chicago, IL

Lawndale
Amoco at 4401 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL

The Gap
BP at 342 E 35th St., Chicago, IL

Garfield Ridge
Shell at 6434 W Archer, Chicago, IL

West Elsdon
BP at 4401 W 55th St., Chicago IL

Gresham
Clark at 1201 W 87th, Chicago, IL
Cook County

North Suburbs
Mobil at 1950 Green Bay Rd, Evanston, IL
Phillips at 9340 Irving Park Rd, Schiller Park, IL
Mobil at 9401 W Higgins, Rosemont, IL
Shell at 2474 Thatcher, River Grove, IL
Shell at 4555 N Nagle, Harwood Heights, IL

West Suburbs
Super Save at 101 W Madison, Maywood, IL
BP at 11201 W Cermak Rd, Westchester, IL
BP at 5201 W Cermak Rd, Cicero, IL
Amoco at 1700 N Mannheim, Stone Park, IL
Mobil at 1101 N LaGrange Park, IL
BP at 17th and Bataan, Broadview, IL
Thornton's at 1125 25th Ave, Bellwood, IL
Shell at 3901 S Harlem, Stickney, IL
BP at 1309 N 25th, Melrose Park, IL
BP at 1601 Oak Park, Berwyn, IL

South Suburbs
Falcon at 18280 S Pulaski, Country Club Hills, IL
Citgo at 13801 S Halsted, Riverdale, IL
Exxon Mobil at 1421 E Sibley Blvd, Dolton, IL
BP at 15857 S Halsted, Harvey, IL
Citgo at 15221 S Halsted, Phoenix, IL
BP at 5548 W 159th, Oak Forest, IL
Citgo at 11901 S Marshfield, Calumet Park, IL
Shell at 11725 S Pulaski, Alsip, IL
Thornton's at 147th & Dixie, Dixmoor, IL
Shell at 385 Sauk Trail, Park Forest, IL
BP at 17450 Kedzie, Hazel Crest, IL
GoLo at 4005 W 135th, Robbins, IL
Falcon at 8702 S Roberts Rd, Hickory Hills, IL
Shell at 2401 Lincoln Hwy, Olympia Fields, IL

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