On Nov. 11 at 10:20 p.m., a man allegedly driving under the influence crashed into Barnard’s Schwinn, 6109 W. North Ave. The damage was extensive, effectively taking out half the storefront and destroying merchandise.
Co-owner Jeff Hajduk was shocked when he saw the severity of the accident, but he was not particularly surprised at the initial call from Oak Park Police telling him he had “a car in the window.” According to Hajduk, there has been a significant increase in speeding related incidents on North Avenue since the street was repaved last summer. “It’s like a Hot Wheels track from Ridgeland to Austin,” Hajduk said. “It’s not just two lanes, they’re taking three on each side.”
Even Hajduk’s cleanup efforts were hampered by speeding traffic. “Friday morning, I put a dumpster out there to clear up the debris. Friday night, an Acura nails the dumpster, and jumps it up on the sidewalk,” he said.
Hajduk has suggestions to mitigate the traffic situation. He proposes the village install a stoplight between Ridgeland and Austin or begin using speed cameras that ticket drivers exceeding the speed limit.
The good news is that Barnard’s reopened on Nov. 15, still boarded up but with a plan to restore the façade tough that work may be delayed until spring.
The bicycle shop was founded by Robert Edward Barnard in 1911 and claims to be the oldest family-owned business in Oak Park. It was first located at 1148 Lake St. in Oak Park, eventually settling at 6109 W. North Ave. in 1984. Hajduk and his brother Greg co-own and operate the business and are the great nephews of Barnard.
The two plan to make repairs to the building starting in the spring. Currently, they are undecided about what materials and aesthetic they will choose for the restored storefront. Despite the devastation, Jeff Hajduk is thankful he has been able to reopen the store so soon after the accident.
“We’re happy so far that everybody has signed off on what has been done by code and has been understanding. There would probably be riots if they didn’t let us open because the neighborhood wants us. We are an anchor.”
Barnard’s Schwinn current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.