Dear City of Chicago Leaders and Park District Officials:
Chicago’s 18-mile Lakefront Trail is the busiest trail in the United States, with peak daily usage reaching 30,000 people in the busiest segments. Residents and visitors flock to the trail year-round for transportation, recreation and athletic training.
As trail usage has spiked in recent years, many segments of the trail are often congested, putting all users at risk of conflict and injury. While long-term planning projects like the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive provide opportunities to address safety concerns, we must develop and implement plans for near-term, lower-cost improvements now.
We urge you to consider improvements in the following critical areas:
- Safety – Separate pedestrians and cyclists traveling at different speeds wherever possible. Solutions may include enhanced pavement markings and adding a separate path in the most congested areas.
- Public Education & Wayfinding – Launch a public education program promoting basic trail etiquette such as suggested speeds, not blocking the path when traveling in groups and staying to the right to allow traffic to pass. Add more signage featuring safety and wayfinding tips.
- Access – Improve access points where possible to safely accommodate users of all types and abilities, especially people with disabilities, seniors, children and families. Add lighting and infrastructure to prevent snow and water buildup where needed.
- Events – Establish policies for the number and frequency of events that use segments of the trail. When granting permits to events that will use the path, require production team to add temporary signage for users approaching the event and work with Park District and partners to inform trail users.
- Maintenance – Remove sand, ice and debris from the path as quickly as possible. During construction projects, mark a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle detour and maintain it throughout the construction.