WICKER PARK — An unseasonably warm morning on Thursday saw more cyclists than usual traveling through Wicker Park's busy six-way Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection, where police have been known to ticket cyclists for running red lights.
On Thursday, at least five cyclists were slapped with tickets for running red lights in the 1600 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, according to a Logan Square resident who was commuting to his job Downtown and says he and four others received tickets around 8:15 a.m.
Officer Nicole Trainor, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman, confirmed that there was a group of officers at the Wicker Park intersection Thursday morning.
"It was a routine traffic enforcement," Trainor said.
Trainor could not say how many tickets were issued, what they were for, and how long the enforcement lasted. She said police also targeted drivers.
The Logan Square cyclist, 26, who was among those ticketed and declined to be named, said he got a citation for running a red light while crossing Milwaukee southbound at North avenues, where he'd used the pedestrian crosswalk signal to get across the street rather than follow the stoplight for cars and bikes.
"The pedestrian signal goes on before the main traffic signal, and all the bikers go through the pedestrian light. I had just done that stretch [across North Avenue] and was waiting by the island [in front of Starbucks at Damen and Milwaukee] when the cops ambushed me. I just got to the island and I was like f---! I got off my bike to pretend I was walking through, but they told me to stop," he said.
The ordinance states that "bicyclists must obey all of the rules of the road" and "the regulations in the traffic code applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon any roadway or public sidewalk or upon any public path set aside for the use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated herein."
Fines for violating the ordinance range from $50 to $200, and the ticket cannot be contested by mail.
The ticket was especially concerning because last month, the cyclist, who works as an accountant in River North, had gotten a ticket for "disobeying a railroad signal" when, as a pedestrian, he was observed by a police officer walking on railroad tracks along Canal Street near Ogilvie Transportation Center.
"I had crossed under the arm and was 5 or 10 feet past it when the light and sounds went on. There was no indication a train was coming when I went under [the safety arm]," he said, adding that the citation ended up costing him $216 in court fees and he is under a four-month court supervision.
"I'm not sure if that [disobeying railroad signal] ticket will impact this [new] one," he said.
Darlene Allison said she was waiting for the bus when she saw a group of police officers wearing bright yellow vests over their uniforms pull at least three cyclists aside after they'd biked through a red light while headed southbound on Milwaukee Avenue.
"They were saying "you, here!" and telling them to pull over," Allison said.
As a 13-year resident of the neighborhood who does not own a bicycle or car but walks a lot, Allison said that she gets mad when bicyclists break the rules, though she said she's not necessarily happy to have witnessed cyclists get ticketed.
"I've been hit by a bike on the sidewalk, but I jaywalk all the time, so is that like the same thing? Next, are we going to be ticketed for jaywalking? Bicyclist beware: it's the first of the year. They are starting to enforce" traffic laws, Allison said.
The number of tickets issued to cyclists for running red lights was not immediately available. However, according to a Sept. 30, 2016 Tribune article that cited Chicago Police Department statistics, 410 cyclists were issued citations for "traffic light" violations between 2006 and 2015.
In 2014, the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection was ranked among the top 10 most dangerous Chicago intersections for pedestrians by the nonprofit advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance.
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