A Big Thank You to Chicago’s Finest

This morning near the end of my commute I saw something that made me smile … and I even pulled over to document it and share the occasion with you.

After a morning commute dealing with cars in the bike lanes and cars passing too closely, I was starting to ponder getting a video camera set-up and recording the hazards I encounter on a commute. Then, as I was heading east on Chicago Ave, I saw three bike police officers riding toward me. All of a sudden one of the officers did a u-turn. I had just stopped for a traffic light and thought he might be turning around to talk to me – “after all of my complaints about cars, had I done something wrong?”

But he bypassed me and he pulled his bike in front of a cab that was in the lane waiting to turn right and yelled to me – “He’s on a cell phone!” Surprised at first, I quickly shouted a “Thank You!” back to him as he proceeded with his official ticketing duties. Chicago instituted a law (categorized not as a moving violation, but as an equipment offense) against driving while using a handheld cell phone back in 2005, and apparently the city has even increased the imposed fine this year. Never have I seen this cell phone ban enforced and the enforcement has been debated over the years.

Of course I had to pull around onto the sidewalk and capture this fine moment. By the time I got my camera out, his backup had turned around and come back as support.

When he’d received the driver’s license and registration, he pulled his bike off the road and told me he wanted copies of my photos. Well, here you go, Officer.

Last January the Washington Post reported about the National Safety Council’s plan to lobby for a nationwide cell phone ban. But the law is only as good as the law enforcement.

Now I’m happy I can finally report that I’ve seen Chicago’s cell phone ban enforced. Thank you, Officer.


  1. Papa Bear December 2, 2009 12:26 pm 

    Picture links are dead. I would love to see them.

  2. Elizabeth December 2, 2009 12:37 pm 

    @Papa Bear, I’ve tried viewing from multiple computers and browsers and the images appear. Seems like a problem at your end. The photos are hosted by flickr. Anyone else having issues?

  3. Clancy December 2, 2009 12:51 pm 

    I see them just fine.

    Great to see such enforcement. What about the white van behind the taxi?

  4. Elizabeth December 2, 2009 12:55 pm 

    I guess the white van was stuck in traffic… until he could go around the stopped cab.

  5. PsySal December 2, 2009 12:56 pm 

    Hooray for Chicago’s finest. My province (Alberta) is still debating whether talking on cellphones might even be worth a ban. Insane.

  6. Marian December 2, 2009 1:17 pm 

    Way to go. I, too, have never witnessed the ban on cell phone use enforced and I drive mega miles on all the city expressways and also the suburbs.

  7. Bob H December 2, 2009 1:39 pm 

    I’d like to see our ban enforced here in Honolulu. I’m told it has been, but I’ve yet to actually see someone ticketed. It seems there were about 650+ tickets issued in the first six months.

    I still see lots of folks on their phones, many trying to act “sneaky” which seems to make it even more dangerous as they duck their heads down while driving!!! [Seen it done folks.]

    One of our local TV stations filed this report last month:

    KITV found some interesting trends. Do not assume women drivers are more likely to get busted. In fact, two-thirds of those cited have been men — 64 percent male and 35 percent female.

    Those receiving tickets are on the younger side — 38 percent were under 30 years old. The older you get, the less likely you have been ticketed. Only 5 percent of those cited have been over 60.

    Hawaii residents got 94 percent of the tickets. Only 5 percent were from out of state.

  8. Iron_Man December 2, 2009 2:29 pm 

    That’s pretty exciting. Add a high speed chase through a nearby park and it would have been like a scene out of Pacific Blue. :)

    Half our police force would be fined if they instituted a cell phone ban while driving in my town.

  9. me December 2, 2009 2:41 pm 

    I am a CPD officer and an avid cyclist. I can assure you that I and many other officers enforce the cell phone ban quite regularly. And I have made many arrests, wrote cell phone tickets and even had vehicle pursuits (and caught ’em!) when on bicycle patrol. We’re out there, working really hard.

  10. Elizabeth December 2, 2009 2:44 pm 

    @me – for all your hard work, Thanks!

    Don’t you find the cell phone abuse rampant?

  11. me December 2, 2009 2:53 pm 
  12. me December 2, 2009 2:58 pm 

    Gee, the link is broken on the city’s website. big surprise!

  13. jamesmallon December 2, 2009 5:00 pm 

    Same law in Toronto, and unenforced. A stupid law, because hands-free are proven to cause as many accidents and our idiot premier (governor) encouraged drivers to buy hands-free. Solves nothing.

    Our cops enforce nothing but speeding tickets, because they are too lazy and all drive in to the city from the exurbs. Few of them understand cities, much less cycling. During ‘bike month’ our cops actually target cyclists for infractions.

    Cops exist to protect the property of people who have it. Nothing more.

  14. Marrock December 2, 2009 11:01 pm 

    Too bad around these parts the cops themselves are too busy on their own cell phones to enforce the ban.

  15. Stuart M. December 3, 2009 2:15 am 

    In Japan there is a ban on using cell phones while driving, so what do the drivers do when their phone rings? They just stop their vehicle and put on their hazard flashers, even in no parking/stopping zones, sometimes on four lane highways! Everyone has to slow down and carefully go around them! Maybe it’s some kind of protest…

  16. Dottie December 3, 2009 6:28 am 

    Nice! I always love seeing Chicago bike police. They’re all over downtown. Actually, I love seeing all Chicago police. Their cars have a great traffic calming affect :)

  17. Elizabeth December 3, 2009 7:06 am 

    @Dottie, I pulled up along a police car on the way home at a stop light. They wanted to race… haha.

  18. Cyclin' Missy December 3, 2009 7:53 am 

    Yah! How awesome that he gave you a heads up for your safety, too.

  19. Powerful Pete December 3, 2009 1:57 pm 

    Excellent. Good news.

    Why people with expensive phones can’t seem to be able to purchase a bluetooth doohicky to speak on the dang thing without endangering others quite as much is beyond me…

  20. tadster December 8, 2009 10:29 am 

    How many finest bike cops does it take to ticket a driver? Oh wait, now that I know the answer, this isn’t so funny.

    Nice blocking action; there’s no way a car is getting through that bike blockade.

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