Thursday, October 7, 2010

To the Super Playground- five kids on three bikes

Have you seen the new "Sangamon and Adams Park 542" playground in the West Loop?  Our kids don't even think about calling it that. Here it's just known as the super playground. It's chock full of ropes and climbing triangles, and deep bouncy floor trenches to climb and roll down. There's a series of arches in the park too with cool mist clouds if it's warm enough. We are still trying to figure out how to make it go. The park and playground just opened in August and I have to say we just can't stop going! A site that almost captures Park 542's super glory is here and there's a Tribune article here.  

It's just north of the highway near the UIC/Halsted Blue Line stop and there's a ramp there to Morgan you can roll up if you are coming by train. To get to the playground from there go north on Morgan. Look out for traffic coming off the highway at the first light it comes right up. We ride in the road by the apartment building that is right after the light so cars pulling out of the garage can see us then back up to the sidewalk, cross the street and go right on Van Buren on the left side of the street sidewalk . We ride east to Sangamon, turn left and ride until we can see 542 at Adams. We  cross and enter the park, then ride through the park to the play lot on the east side along Peoria. The bus on Halstead stops east of the park on Adams and you can ride west straight to the park. Two bikes only on the bus- we have taken a bike on the bus and collapsed a trailer and taken it on the bus before. There is also a bus on Jackson going west.

The mist is still on as of Oct 11!
Friends we had over last week voted to ride bikes across the highway there so off we went. We have extra bikes in our garage from the trash and Working Bikes so we had enough for the two nine year-olds to ride.  The two six year olds wanted to ride with me and our small guy. 
The quick ride we took highlighted three of the tricks when we're out with a solo kid rider at intersections with or without a stop light.

First, just like nobody expects the Spanish inquisition, no driver in Chicago imagines a child out on a bike, ever. Kids on bikes are also short, even if they have a flag.  We tell the guys to remember that they are really invisible when we are out on bikes -- like a super hero that can get squashed they have the power to stay safe and take  good care of themselves on a ride. 
Next, cars in a hurry to overtake us and make their right turn don't look out when we get to an intersection. They can easily almost hit us so we try to ride to the absolute top of the corner in the road, or if we are on the sidewalk we stay on the sidewalk until we make eye contact with the driver. Cars are always surprised to see a child on a bike but they are usually really nice when they see us.

Lastly, when we sidewalk ride, cars turning left do not anticipate us moving off the sidewalk and into the road and can also easily hit us.When the guys are on their bikes  we usually ride the sidewalks in the West Loop. Sidewalks are usually deserted on the roads we take. We do do a little riding in the road so its good to know that traffic is very busy in the morning, quieter in the middle of the day and busy later at rush hour. Peoria has stop signs at most major streets and is fairly quiet- north/south.

We rode the three turns and two straightaways from the UIC campus to the playground in no time. Bike parking at the super playground is not super yet, so we took our bikes into the play lot and locked them inside the fence. This is a pretty safe place for bikes! When everyone had to go to the bathroom we went to the Merit School of Music which is just north of the play lot across the street on Peoria. They don't mind at all if you use the bathrooms or get a drink there.

We took a picnic. For other snacks, Greektown is just east and has a couple of nice bakeries -- there is a sweet family owned shop on Halsted with baklava and spanikopita they will happily box up for you.  Also nearby is a coffee shop on Morgan. Wishbone restaurant is close north on Morgan and has a 15% off deal at all meals for cyclists, and a kid's menu.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! I've been wondering about this park. It looks great!


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