The Chicago Transit Authority’s trains and buses are a great way to reach your summer destinations. But like all big cities, Chicago’s has its share of violence and theft and even the most seasoned commuters can fall prey to pick-pocketing and attacks while using the CTA.
The next time you board your CTA bus or the “L” keep these essential safety tips in mind:
Don’t flaunt it
Break the habit of patting your pockets or purses to make sure if your wallet is there. According to the CTA, this actually lets thieves know the exact location of your valuables.
It sounds like a given, but it needs to be said. Always keep your wallet in a safe location, like the inside of a jacket or the inside pocket of a purse.
Guys, always keep your wallet in a front pocket instead of a back pocket. Ladies, if your purse straps are long enough, wear it diagonally across your body so someone can’t snatch it. If not, keep your hands on your purse at all times. Don’t let it sit idly on your lap.
The CTA is no place to show off your latest tech device or Valentine’s Day present. Try to conceal your expensive belongings. This Chicago Tribune article on CTA smartphone thefts might put things into perspective.
Have a separate holder for your transit card (somewhere other than your wallet). This eliminates the need to take out your wallet whenever you need to use your card.
These chapters may help you get inside the mind of a pick-pocketer.
You snooze, you lose
Don’t sleep! Especially on its slow days, the “L” might seem like a good place to catch some extra z’s, but CTA advises you to be awake and alert.
Don’t get so engrossed in your phone, iPod or book that you tune out the rest of the bus or train. Always pay attention to what’s going on around you.
CTA warns commuters to be wary of noisy passengers arguing or causing a commotion. This could be staged to distract you.
Do your part
According to the CTA website, commuters can help keep buses and trains safe by watching for:
- Someone hiding things on CTA property
- Unattended packages
- People other than authorized CTA employees on the rail tracks
- Someone wearing unusual clothing for the time of year (i.e. a winter parka in the summer)
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as smoke, an odd smell, or suspicious activities you should immediately tell the bus driver, rail operator or call 911.
The CTA says, “If it’s unwanted, it’s harassment.” If you feel threatened in any way you should move toward light areas and people, or move to another part of the bus or to another rail car. Tell the rail or bus operator that you are being harassed immediately.
CTA recently announced they will double the number of surveillance cameras at CTA rail stations to about 3,000. There will also be an increased police presence over the next few months to keep violence and theft at bay.
Be sure to bookmark the official CTA website to stay up to date on official safety information (and for all things CTA). For additional coverage of the CTA’s new security plans visit the CTA Tattler blog.
Chicago has risen to become a haven for foodies from all over the world. Food festivals, unique dining events and restaurant specials are offered throughout the year and this summer is no exception. Scroll through this interactive slideshow to get a glimpse of just some of the city’s upcoming food events.
Since most fireworks are illegal in Illinois, many locals flock to stores in Indiana and Wisconsin in the weeks leading up to the July 4 weekend. Fireworks laws are more relaxed in those states, so there is no shortage of stores selling fireworks legally. Cross into Indiana, for example, and most of the billboards you’ll see along highways point you to the nearest fireworks store.
Explore this interactive map to find some popular fireworks stores near Chicago.
Remember that most fireworks are illegal in Illinois and specific laws vary from town to town. If you’re interested in shooting fireworks, either privately or as a professional display, be aware of Illinois’ current fireworks regulations.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Fire Protection Association recommend that people attend a professional fireworks display on July 4 to ensure a safe holiday. For more information visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/KeepCool/Pages/fire_safety.aspx
This year, Navy Pier is the only site for July 4 fireworks in the city. Chicago is certainly known for its dazzling fireworks shows, but if you’re looking for a venue that is less crowded or more kid-friendly, don’t count out the suburbs!
Enjoy a day of horse racing, music and fireworks at the Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights. According to the Arlington Park website, the fireworks display will last over 30 minutes. The first 20,000 attendees will receive 3-D fireworks glasses and the first 1,000 kids get a free firecracker popsicle.
Take your family to Gillson Park in Wilmette on Sunday July 3rd for games, rides, entertainment and a TasteFest beginning at 4 p.m. The Grand Fireworks show starts at 9:30 p.m.
Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies festival will end with fireworks displays July 1-3 in Lisle Community Park. According to the festival website, because Monday is a work/school night, the Eyes to the Skies Committee decided that the finale will be done on July 3 instead of the 4 so kids and parents could relax and enjoy the show.
Because of the Chicago’s budget cuts, Navy Pier is now the exclusive site for fireworks in the city. You can catch fireworks shows on Saturday July 2 at 10:15 p.m. and Monday July 4 at 9 p.m. There will be no fireworks on July 3.
Navy Pier is also offering fireworks displays all summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays through September. For a full listing of dates and times, click here.
Fireworks will be launched from Clark Street Beach at 9:15 p.m. and can be viewed from any part of the lakefront east of downtown Evanston. Grab some chairs and tune into 90.5 FM to hear accompanying music along with the fireworks display.
Morton Grove’s fireworks show will begin at 9:30 p.m. in Harrer Park, at 6250 Dempster St, Morton Grove, IL 60053 at Fernald Avenue.
Itasca is known for hosting one of the largest fireworks displays outside of the Chicago. Hamilton Lakes Office Campus at I290 & Thorndale Ave. The show will begin between 9:45 and 10 p.m. Fireworks are set to last about 25 minutes.
The city of Naperville’s Independence Day fireworks extravaganza begins at 9:30 p.m. in Knoch Park as part of its annual Ribfest celebration. Entry into the park could end early due to capacity, so get there early!
Libertyville’s July 4 celebration will be held at Butler Lake Park. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. Fireworks start at dusk around 9:30 p.m.
Take your family and friends to Tinley Park’s free Fourth of July celebration featuring live music, children’s games and activities, food tent, beer tent, bingo, and fireworks.
For a detailed list of July 4 events in the suburbs listed by county, visit http://chicagofree.info/2011/06/27/chicago-area-fireworks-options-2011/.