Friday, April 6, 2012

Fullerton Parkway access to the lake front is third-highest in the city

by Michelle Stenzel

You've heard our thoughts on the Fullerton Parkway bridge project on this prior post. We have had many conversations with people on- and off-line on the topic, and in the end, we're not fully convinced that the final result will be a net gain for people walking and riding bicycles to the Lake Front Trail; however, we're going to take the positive steps of working within the confines of the project to try to make the design as pleasant as possible for users who are choosing active transportation to traverse the area. (Join us at our next Bike Walk Lincoln Park meeting on 4/16 to contribute ideas, details below.)
Pedestrians head east over the Fullerton Parkway bridge on a Sunday afternoon in March 2012, the day before demolition and removal of the sidewalk was scheduled to begin.  (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
But today's post is to point out why this little segment of Fullerton is so important. You already know from our prior post on the subject that there is NO public transportation service on Fullerton within a mile of the Lake Front Trail, because that ends at Halsted. So, to access the trail, many people walk or ride bicycles across the bridge to the LFT. It always feels crowded, but we never knew there were statistics on the usage rates. Until now.

The Friends of the Lake Front Trail (an initiative of the Active Transportation Alliance) and the Chicago Park District conducted user counts in August 2010 at nearly every access point on the Lake Front Trail, to document usage. Guess which access point was third-busiest in the city? Yes, Fullerton Parkway. My amateur graphs below were made using data from the study (you can access the study from this link). 
On weekends, around 7,800 people use the sidewalk (mixed use trail?) to get to and from the Lake Front Trail on Fullerton Parkway, under Lake Shore Drive. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
North Avenue beach access points was the highest user rate, with an estimated 13,669 users per August weekend day. The Oak Street underpass was next with 12,142 users per weekend day, and Fullerton was third with 7, 816 users. 
August 2010 Estimated Daily Weekend Users at North Side Lake Front Trail access points.
Source of data used: Lake Front Trail Counts study by Active Transportation Alliance and Chicago Park District
What do you think of this data? Anything surprising? Leave your comments below.

Next Bike Walk Lincoln Park meeting:

Monday, April 16, 2012 
6:30 to 8:00 pm
Next Door, in the Blue Room
659 W. Diversey

On the agenda: Fullerton Parkway bridge, Streets for Cycling 2020, Stop for Pedestrian Signs in Crosswalks, upcoming bike share

RSVP appreciated for space planning purposes:


  1. Does the data split the users into people on wheels and people on foot? This would be useful to determine to compare the different access points to see which ones provide the space each different user needs. Someone cycling needs more space than someone walking. Will the new Fullerton Parkway design offer more space for what will soon be a crowded path, with everyone sharing the same path?

    1. Yes, the PDF report linked above does have the numbers of people according to mode. For Fullerton, it's on page 41. The actual counts were done in three three-hour segments, and then the estimations for daily counts extrapolated from there. For the Fullerton weekend count from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, the total count was 1,861, with 452 on bike (24%), 1,395 on foot (75%) and 14 other (1%).

      The total width of the new multi-use trail on the north side of Fullerton Parkway leading to the Lake Front Trail will be more than it was prior to the re-design (but less total width than the two existing sidewalks combined). -- MS

  2. This doesn't surprise me at all. I expected Fullerton to be in the top 4 or 5. Steve raises a good question - about whether there's any breakdown on types of users. I think that would be very helpful information in the redesign.