Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Streetsblog Chicago

Streetsblog helped get a bogus “No Bikes” sign removed near Promontory Point, where drivers have been parking illegally

Sure, this wasn't one of Chicago's most urgent problems, but it's good that we were able to get a building to stop telling bike riders they can't park in front of the property.

Steven Lucy’s bicycle and the illegal “No Bikes” sign at Promontory Apartments. We were able to get the problem fixed without excessive tub-thumping (defined as “expressing opinions in a loud and violent or dramatic manner.”) Photo: Steven Lucy

This post is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

Remember last September when Streetsblog reported that unauthorized motorists were getting away with driving through the underpass to Hyde Park's Promontory Point, endangering pedestrians and bike riders on paths, and damaging parkland? Since then the Chicago Park District has tried to prevent this behavior by putting up metal bollards that prevent this behavior – sometimes.

A driver illegally enters the underpass of DuSable Lake Shore Drive to Promontory Park near 55th Street last September, putting pedestrians at risk, looking east. Photo: Steven Lucy

So real laws governing motorists at at Promontory Point were sometimes not enforced. But until recently a non-existent rule against bicycle riders parking in front of a building just west of the peninsula was promoted with an illegal sign. Streetsblog Chicago contributor Steven Lucy, who lives in the neighborhood, recently pointed out the problem in a Twitter thread about Promontory Apartments, 5530-32 South Shore Drive.

"The 311 request that was closed today was SR23-00542163 "Determination made: No Action Taken - Not A Sign Request," Steven added. "Gonna go lock my bike there and then press theft charges when they 'remove' it." He later checked his photos and saw that the sign language was actually more concise than he remembered, simply stating "No Bikes."

I chimed in that when when I worked as a bike parking consultant at the Chicago Department of Transportation in in early 2000s, I helped change the City ordinance to specify that it is legal to lock a bike to a public sign pole or parking meter. (There were lots of the latter back then.)

Chicago ordinance 9-52-070 Parking states: "No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb or upon the sidewalk against a rack, parking meter or sign pole [emphasis added] to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb in such manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic." So it appeared this sign banning bikes on the public right-of-way, a grassy parkway next to the curb, was spurious.

The "No Bikes" sign. Photo: Steven Lucy

On December 28 I called the Promontory Apartments management office and left a message asking for an explanation. That day I also wrote to CDOT spokesperson Erica Schroeder to ask if the department had any intel about why Steven's 311 request was closed, and noted that the "No Bikes" sign violated the City ordinance.

On January 2 I heard back from a Promontory Apartments staffer. They told told me the "No Bikes" sign was originally installed about 10 years ago at CDOT's suggestion (that was well after I worked for the department) because there was an issue with people parking bikes on a building-owned flower bed.

The employee added that a CDOT worker recently stopped by and said the "No Bikes" sign needed to be removed, but the building could post a sign on the ground by the flower bed. "We're going to monitor it as spring progresses," the Promontory Apartments staffer told Streetsblog. "We may put out a sign that says you can park bikes on the pole, but please don't disturb the flowers." That seems like a reasonable solution.

I immediate shared that explanation with CDOT's Schroeder. "The ["No Bikes"] signage in question is not a City of Chicago sign and is in the process of being taken down, if it hasn't been removed already," she confirmed.

A CDOT employee told me that they didn’t have info on the origins of the sign. They added that the department is looking into what exactly happened with Steven Lucy's 311 request, but said the request's closure appears to have been an error on the part of the responding crew member.  

The "No Parking" sign in front of Promontory Apartments after the illegal "No Bikes" sign was removed, looking northeast. Photo: Steven Lucy

I shared the good news with Steven, and he stopped by and shot a photo of the "No Parking" pole in front of Promontory Apartments that showed the "No Bikes" sign was, in fact, gone. It also illustrates that it wouldn't be difficult for bike riders to lock to the pole with their wheels on the concrete near the curb, leaving the flower patch unscathed.

Steven added that he checked out Google Streetview images for this location and found that the "No Bikes" sign does not appear in the June 2011 image, but is present in the photos taken in June 2014 through July 2022, which is the latest imagery of that block.

So this story has a happy ending. Granted, people on bicycles being falsely told they can't lock to city poles is not one of Chicago's most urgent problems. And, sure, you can file this story of Streetsblog getting city officials to fix this minor issue under "Think locally and act globally."

Promontory Apartments, a public parking lot, and Promontory Point. Image: Google Maps

On the other hand, it's good that we were able to get a building to stop telling bike riders they can't park legally in front of the property. That's particularly obvious when you know that, just a couple hundred feet east, motorists have been allowed to endanger people on bikes and foot, and illegally park on grassy parkland, even though there's a public parking lot right there.

donate button

Did you appreciate this post? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

CTAction: It’s silly for CTA to update timetables to reflect “more scheduled rail service” when it can’t deliver its current schedule

The grassroots transit advocacy group says there's no point in advertising more service on the new timetables when the CTA isn't actually providing it.

July 11, 2024

Transit advocates voiced support for 9 Ashland bus extension, transportation committee approved it

A full City Council vote is needed to finalize the project, and the next Council meeting is next Wednesday, July 17.

July 11, 2024

How can we avoid fiscal derailment? Transit agencies, chambers of commerce take opposite sides on the consolidation debate

RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace chiefs said they need more funding but are opposed to unification. The chamber leaders said the agencies shouldn't get one without the other.

July 10, 2024
See all posts