by Michelle Stenzel
The Lakefront Trail and Lake Shore Drive are famous routes in Chicago, known for providing walkers, bicyclists and drivers good transportation and great views of Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline.
However, the Lakefront Trail is far too narrow at many points to serve the huge number of users, and its proximity to the lake means that waves often effectively shut it down. It's lacking greenery and natural elements from Grand to North. Many of the access points are grimy, dark, and inaccessible to people with mobility issues.
|The Lakefront Trail near Ohio Street Beach on a typical summer evening. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)|
Because of its broad lanes and highway-like design, Lake Shore Drive acts as a barrier between the Lakefront Trail and the residents living west of the Drive. The street's design encourages speeding, leading to a high rate of crashes and injuries: 1,100 crashes per year, just on the northern section. Although it's very wide and 69,000 riders per day ride on 9 total bus routes, Lake Shore Drive has no dedicated space for public transportation.
|In this picture, I see 74 cars carrying an estimated 93 people in the northbound lanes and on ramp. All these people would fit into one articulated CTA bus. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)|
Fortunately, the opportunity to improve Lake Shore Drive and surrounding areas for all users is now at hand.
In August 2013, the first public meetings were held for the "Redefine the Drive" project, which is being undertaken jointly by the Illinois and Chicago departments of transportation. The project seeks to address problems with North Lake Shore Drive and surrounding areas, and the public is invited to provide input. This is an eight-year long project, so there's much more to come. (More -->)