CHICAGO (CBS) — Pigeon droppings coating the sidewalks outside a Blue Line stop have proved to be more than just a nasty nuisance. The problem also led to a bunch of finger pointing to figure out a long-term solution.
The sidewalk outside the Irving Park Blue Line stop is coated in bird waste. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory got some odd answers when she started asking questions about how to do more than just clean up the mess, but stop it from coming back.
“This Blue Line stop is affectionately known as the pigeon poop stop,” Derek Barthel said.
The nickname for his commute might sound comical, but Barthel has literal bones to pick with the birds that created the mess, which isn’t just limited to bird poop.
“You’ll see feathers, you’ll see bones, you’ll see pigeon bodies, you’ll see cracked eggs,” he said.
Beady eyes watch your moves like Mona Lisa; the cement below painted with pigeon excrement.
“It stinks to high heaven around here,” Barthel said.
The pigeons at the Irving Park underpass below the Kennedy Expressway drop waste right and left, forcing bus and train riders into a game of hopscotch.
Barthel said he’s even had some close calls “with getting hit in the face with a pigeon.”
“it’s not funny at all when you’ve got pets at home, and you’ve got to keep your shoes away from them, because they’ll lick them and get sick,” Barthel said. “It’s a public health issue. There’s pregnant women, there’s elderly, there’s sick, there’s children walking through day in and day out.”
That’s why Barthel wants more than just a clean-up.
“The problem first of all needs to be solved in the long-term,” he said.
Some have tried by installing bird spikes to keep the pigeons away from the underpass, but their solutions are in disrepair, as many of the strips have fallen off.
Perhaps jurisdiction complicates matters. The pigeons are hanging out on property half of which belongs to the CTA, the other half to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Hosing off the sidewalk falls to the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, but cleaning the sidewalks won’t get rid of the pigeons making the mess. Not to mention, the south side of the underpass is in the 45th Ward, and the north side is in the 39th Ward.
“I’ve been on the phone with them (the 39th Ward) no fewer than three times,” Barthel said.
When CBS 2 reached out to 39th Ward Alderman Samantha Nugent’s office, a spokesperson brought up someone else to blame. He said feeding the pigeons only exacerbates the problem, and also noted it’s illegal to feed pigeons in Chicago.
Signs near the underpass reminding people of the $500 fines for feeding pigeons are dilapidated and faded, and in need of replacement.
Within less than a day of CBS 2 contacting the city, the sidewalk had been cleaned of pigeon poop.
However, it doesn’t seem like the long-term problem will be fixed for good anytime soon.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said bird barriers or shields would interfere with bridge safety inspections. Just like Nugent’s office, IDOT also wagged a finger at people who feed the pigeons.