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New Bike Lanes Under LSD Solely to Discriminate Against Homeless in Uptown, Attorneys Allege

5/30/2018, noon | Updated on 5/30/2018, noon
An amended complaint was recently filed alleging discrimination against homeless people in the Uptown neighborhood by the city of Chicago. ...
Photos of Wilson Avenue at Lake Shore Drive overpass. Photos: Uptown People’s Law Center

New Bike Lanes Under LSD Solely to Discriminate Against Homeless in Uptown, Attorneys Allege

An amended complaint was recently filed alleging discrimination against homeless people in the Uptown neighborhood by the city of Chicago.

Lawyers from Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Uptown People’s Law Center, and Butler Rubin filed the complaint on behalf of the homeless residents of Uptown who took shelter under the viaducts before the construction. The encampment was destroyed by police in September to make way for bridge repair.

The city of Chicago recently painted bike lanes on the sidewalk under the Lake Shore Drive overpasses on Wilson and Lawrence Avenues. Putting bike lanes on sidewalks is against the City of Chicago’s own policies, according to lawyers for the homeless, and is known to be dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists they argue. The lawyers also allege the city is doing this specifically to prevent homeless people from taking shelter under the viaducts, which is discriminatory and in violation of the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless, according to a press released issued by the attorneys.

“People riding bikes are going to die because of this change,” said Alan Mills, attorney and executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center. “The city is so keen to prevent homeless people from creating their community that they are willing to risk the lives of cyclists. This bike lane is bad for homeless people, and bad for cyclists.”

“Rather than providing housing and services, the City has chosen to respond to our homeless clients by denying them access to public sidewalks and the modest shelter provided by the viaducts. We believe that there is no legitimate reason to put the bike lanes on the sidewalks here, and we intend to prove that the design is a pretext for discrimination against homeless people in Uptown,” said Diane O’Connell, Staff Attorney with the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.