Big changes are coming to the north end of the Lakefront Trail.
Monday morning, Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke ground on the next phase of the trail separation project, splitting the trail in two parts, one for cyclists and one for pedestrians.
“When you are a pedestrian it’s a nuisance to have a bike coming within two inches all of sudden and then you go like that,” says Tom Morrow, who walks the trail almost every day.
The next phase starts at Montrose all the way to Ardmore. It’s an effort to ease congestion- and collisions on the trail which have become more frequent.
“Right down the street at Lake Shore Drive and Montrose is the highest rate for bicycle accidents and my constituents continually complain about all of the bicycle accidents happening, this change will make it so much safer for bicyclists,” said 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman at a press conference Monday morning.
This trail, winding around the lake, is one of the busiest in the country, with about 100,000 people using it a day in the warmer months.
Last year, other sections of the trail were split, from 31st to 41st streets, Oak to Ohio, Fullerton to North Avenue.
Mayor Emanuel says the separation made the trail, one he uses almost daily, much safer.
“When we made the investment, fixing and separating bike and running north and south separate trails we would actually have an improvement not only in safety but also in enjoyment for bikers and runners,” Emanuel said.
The standard bike trail will be 12 feet wide and the pedestrian trail will be 20 feet wide with 14 feet of asphalt or concrete and three feet of compacted stone mix on each side.
“The Chicago Park District is pleased to continue working toward making one of Chicago’s greatest assets even better,” said General Superintendent and CEO Michael P. Kelly. “This separation project will enhance the lakefront experience for residents and tourists alike.”
The entire length of the trail, all 18 miles, set to be completely separated by November. A $12 million donation is being used to fund this project.