Dough! Lightfoot lambasted after guards park in bike lane while she buys doughnuts
After the advocacy group Bike Lane Uprising posted photos showing her SUV parked in the busy North Avenue bike lane, the mayor admitted Wednesday, “Obviously, they shouldn’t have parked in a bike lane. ... Period.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot all but apologized Wednesday after taking a beating from cyclists and their City Council allies for allowing her security team to park two SUVs in a busy bike lane while she ran inside a North Side doughnut shop.
“Obviously, they shouldn’t have parked in a bike lane. Pretty simple. No bike lanes. No fire hydrants. They shouldn’t have done it. Period,” the mayor said of her bodyguard detail and security tail car.
During the pandemic, Lightfoot defended herself from accusations of hypocrisy after photos surfaced on social media showing her getting her hair cut without wearing a mask at a time when beauty parlors were shut down.
There was backlash again on social media when the advocacy group Bike Lane Uprising posted a photo last week of a mayoral SUV parked in the bike lane outside Roeser’s Bakery, 3216 W. North Ave., and another of Lightfoot waiting in line inside the bakery.
The cyclist who took the photos and gave them to the advocacy group posted online that she saw Lightfoot’s “entourage (2 XL SUVs) park in the North Ave bike lane for 10 mins. For some damn donuts. Unreal.”
Bike Lane Uprising then tweeted at the mayor, “parking in bike lanes so you can get doughnuts means you value doughnuts over the lives of bicyclists. A RECORD NUMBER OF CYCLISTS HAVE BEEN KILLED DURING YOUR TERM. We need a mayor that leads by example. This ain’t it.”
Hey @chicagosmayor parking in bike lanes so you can get doughnuts means you value doughnuts over the lives of bicyclists. A RECORD NUMBER OF CYCLISTS HAVE BEEN KILLED DURING YOUR TERM. We need a mayor that leads by example. This ain’t it. pic.twitter.com/U4JpQdzPhw— Bike Lane Uprising® (@bikelaneuprise) November 9, 2022
The incident was first reported by Block Club Chicago on Wednesday morning.
“It shows her true colors. ... She doesn’t set a good precedent,” Christina Whitehouse, founder of Bike Lane Uprising, told the Sun-Times.
Parking in bike lanes, which Whitehouse called a “safe space” for cyclists, is especially dangerous.
“By blocking bike lanes, it forces [cyclists] to move into faster moving traffic that doesn’t expect them to be there,” Whitehouse said. “You’re forced into traffic that is likely going to be angry at you, be aggressive, potentially try to hit you on purpose. It’s proven that it can kill.”
While some intersections in the city are known to have more crashes than others, with more and more people taking to biking since the pandemic, the “reality is everywhere is pretty dangerous right now.”
She said Lightfoot “ran on a lot of ground stating that she was pro-biking and she was gonna do all these great things for biking ... and what we’ve seen is she hasn’t done that.”
Lightfoot announced earlier this year that Chicago would add 25 miles of concrete-protected bike lanes by Dec. 31 and convert all bike lanes protected by plastic posts to concrete separation by the end of 2023. In city limits, there are more than 116 miles of bike lanes, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.
North Side Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), who also expressed outrage about the incident, said Lightfoot’s administration had been stonewalling his proposal that would include a crackdown on obstructing bike lanes, along with added sign requirements and stepped-up ticketing and towing, to prevent a repeat of the accident that killed 3-year-old Lily Grace Shambrook.
On June 9, the toddler was riding in a carrier attached to her mother’s bike when she was struck and killed by a semitruck. Her mother was maneuvering around a ComEd truck blocking the bike lane. The traffic accident — one of three fatal incidents in June involving children struck and killed on Chicago streets — occurred on a busy Uptown block that had triggered a barrage of complaints from local residents.
“Even as we’ve been trying to move legislation to get it done through the Transportation Committee, the administration has been blocking us left and right,” Vasquez told the Sun-Times on Wednesday.
After the doughnut shop episode, Vasquez said, “I have concerns about how seriously this administration is taking infrastructure and transportation, knowing we have more cyclists. And it’s really not the best to send a signal to Chicago that they should, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”
Retiring Transportation Committee Chairman Howard Brookins (21st) questioned why Lightfoot would allow her detail to defy the law prohibiting motorists from stopping and standing in bike lanes, particularly when “the bodyguards could have dropped her off at the bakery, circled the block and come back around to pick her up.”
“The message is a message of duplicity. It doesn’t set the right example as a leader of this city and especially as someone who believes in the Green Revolution,” Brookins said.
Brookins said the Vasquez-proposed crackdown has been stalled in his committee because officials at the Chicago Department of Transportation “had some objection to the language” even though they agree with the thrust of the legislation.
“I intend on moving on that soon if they can’t seem to get it together,” the chairman said.
Police wouldn’t immediately say how many tickets had been issued for blocking bike lanes this year. Of the 32,500 Chicago bike lane obstructions reported to Bike Lane Uprising, nearly 7% were municipal vehicles, according to data on the group’s website.
Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said there is “no good excuse” for violating the law that prohibits standing, loading or parking in Chicago bike lanes “whether you work for the Postal Service, Amazon or you are mayor of Chicago.”
“Buying doughnuts is certainly not a good reason for placing bicyclists’ lives at risk,” Reilly wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.