The Lakefront trail is one of the most active trails in the United States, used by cyclists, joggers, and walkers enjoying the lakefront. Many sections of the existing multi-use trail are overcrowded and congested due to the number of people using the trail coupled with those participating in activities and other events within the park. Starting in 2017 and finishing by the end of 2018, trail separation will occur through the entire Lakefront Trail between Ardmore Avenue on the north side and 71st Street on the south side.
The Lakefront Trail will be split into two distinct trails: one for bicycle riders and the other for pedestrians. The bicycle trail will allow cyclists to use the trail without having to weave between walkers or runners. The ADA accessible pedestrian trail will be for people walking, jogging, and pushing strollers.
In designing the separated lakefront trails, the Chicago Park District utilized the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (ASHTO) as well as consulted and collaborated with City of Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). Additionally, Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) and Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) are advising the Park District throughout the planning and design process for the trail separation.
In general, the guiding design principal has been to keep pedestrians closest to the lake and bicycles closest to Lake Shore Drive (LSD). This has worked well in generally “narrow” park areas (i.e. Fullerton to North, or through Grant Park). However, in broader park areas, like between Montrose and Foster, where there are large recreation fields and a significant amount of pedestrians moving west (of LSD) from the east, it makes more sense to located the bicycle trail further east. This helps to encourage cyclists to use the underpasses at Montrose and Wilson and avoid the street crossings near the north bound exits of LSD.
There are some sections of trail between Montrose and Fullerton that are challenging. There are pinch points and extremely narrow areas where little room exists to separate bicycles and pedestrians, such as west of the golf course and at Belmont Harbor. In these locations, the pathway is a side by side trail. From Montrose south to the Buena underpass, there are two separate trails; 12-foot bicycle to the west and 14-foot pedestrian to the east. From Buena south to Irving, the pathway is a 20-foot side by side trail; 10-foot bicycle, 8-foot pedestrian with a 2-foot striped buffer separating the two trails.
The public is able to access design and construction information and detour maps by checking www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/lakefront-trail/ or following the Chicago Park District on Facebook and Twitter for construction updates. Additionally, you can follow @activetransLFT on Twitter and #chiLFT for updates.