CITY HALL — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her security should not have parked in a Humboldt Park bike lane so she could buy donuts, a move that was caught in photos and has sparked controversy.
Bike Lane Uprising, a bicyclist advocacy group, on Nov. 9 shared a photo of two cars parked in the North Avenue bike lane outside Roeser’s Bakery, 3216 W. North Ave. The photo appears to show an officer climbing to a car, with the original photographer saying the car was part of Lightfoot’s security motorcade of two large SUVs.
The original poster also shared a photo of what appeared to be Lightfoot inside Roeser.
Block Club Chicago contacted the Mayor’s Office multiple times for comment before publishing a story Wednesday about the incident. At a press conference later that day, Lightfoot said that his security should not have parked in the bike lane.
RELATED: Mayor Lightfoot’s motorcade parked in a bike lane so she could buy donuts, bike advocates say
“The first thing I heard about this is the media reports,” Lightfoot said. “Obviously, they shouldn’t have been parking in the bike lane. Pretty simple. No bike lanes. No fire hydrants. They shouldn’t have. Period.”
A spokesman for the mayor’s office then responded to an earlier email from Block Club, saying the mayor had spoken about the incident at the press conference.
The mayor has faced strong criticism from the city’s cycling community over the photos.
“A RECORD NUMBER OF BIKERS HAVE BEEN KILLED DURING HIS TENURE,” Bike Lane Uprising wrote on Twitter while sharing the photos. “We need a mayor who leads by example. This is not everything.
People who responded to the tweet noted that Roeser’s is connected to a parking lot and questioned why Lightfoot put cyclists at risk to get them to buy donuts.
Bike Lane Uprising also noted that Lightfoot tweeted about safe bike lanes just hours after he posted about his bike lane parking.
“It’s just appalling,” said Christina Whitehouse, founder of Bike Lane Uprising. “It was not an emergency and there are safe alternatives. But he went to park in the bike lanes where there is a safe place to park, which shows that he would put the lives of Chicagoans in danger for some donuts.”
While cycling advocates and groups like Bike Lane Uprising have pushed for safety improvements for years, their calls have taken on renewed urgency as the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed by motorists rises during the pandemic.
Among their calls: Safe transportation advocates have called for the city to crack down on drivers who park in bike lanes, with Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) pushing for a measure that would have drivers’ cars towed if they parked in bike lanes. He and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has also suggested the city could tow cars if videos prove they were driving, idling or parked in a bike lane.
Vasquez made the proposals after a truck driver struck and killed 3-year-old Elizabeth “Lily” Grace Shambrook as her mother and she tried to dodge a truck parked in an Uptown bike lane. The fatal accident occurred in June.
“In our district, families have lost babies because we as a city cannot adequately address this,” Vasquez said on Twitter last week. “Cyclists contact us every day about the dangers they have to face just to get from point a to point b. There are lives at stake here. We need action, no more blockades, mayor.”
Lightfoot promised to improve infrastructure for bicyclists and said the city will add concrete pads to protected bike lanes and create more protected bike lanes.
But some parts of those newly installed barriers have already been damaged.
Listen to “Everything Is Fine: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: