BUCKTOWN — Adding to foot and bike patrols, Shakespeare District police have begun riding all-terrain vehicles along the elevated 2.7-mile long Bloomingdale Trail.
Late Sunday night, Jesus LaRosa, a cyclist, said that he noticed police using all three forms of travel at different points over the holiday weekend. But the only one LaRosa and his friends objected to are the ATVs.
"ATVS are not necessary," said LaRosa, who was hanging out with several other cyclists at the Damen Arts Plaza just before 11 p.m. Sunday, when the park is supposed to close.
LaRosa said he saw an officer on an ATV around 9:45 p.m. Friday night.
"He pulled up [to the plaza] and just stared at us and didn't say anything, and then drove off," said LaRosa.
LaRosa said he feels like ATVs are "more about show" than function and are too wide, taking up more than half of the path.
Hector Negron, another cyclist, said that ATVs are "an obnoxious form of travel" that pollute the air and are a safety hazard.
"It's already packed with people who have no control of their children," said Negron, a 25-year-old Lawndale resident who rides on the trail daily.
Negron said he'd rather see police on Segways, which would take up less space.
But many neighbors who live along the trail support the use of ATVs.
"ATVs, bikes, horses or on foot. Any form of police presence is welcomed on the 606. And yes I am right next to the trail," one resident wrote on the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail Facebook page.
The resident was commenting on a Streetsblog Chicago post, "Police on noisy ATVs have begun to invade the Bloomingdale Trail," which assumed that residents whose homes are within a few feet of the elevated path would not welcome the noise caused by ATVs.
Another resident said on the Bloomingdale Trail Facebook page that his windows face "right onto the trail" and he would take any police patrol over none at all.
At a Chicago Alternative Policing strategy meeting last week, Sgt. Adam Henkels confirmed that a group of Shakespeare District Police are using the ATVS as a way to augment other patrols on the 606, which runs through Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park.
Henkels, who runs the Shakespeare District CAPS office, told about a half-dozen residents at the meeting in the Wicker Park field house that the ATVs had been in storage and were not bought specifically for the trail.