Eyes on the Street: Biking the New Separated Lakefront Trail Between North and Fullerton

The new bike path a little south of Fullerton. Image: John Greenfield
The new bike path a little south of Fullerton. Image: John Greenfield

The city’s project to create separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists along the entire length of the Lakefront Trail seems to be rolling along fairly smoothly. The new separated bike path between North Avenue and Fullerton Avenue is just about ready for its ribbon cutting, and it’s already unofficially open for riding, although a short stretch by the North Avenue pedestrian bridge is still unpaved.

The new segment of trail is located right next to Lake Shore Drive, which means it’s a little noisier and smoggier than the existing path, which will be designated for pedestrian-only use. On the plus side, the new trail offers some interesting, slightly elevated views of the lake.

I filmed my maiden voyage on the fresh asphalt for your viewing pleasure. While it’s not the most riveting footage you’ll find on YouTube, if you make it all the way to the end there’s a fun surprise or at least it was for me. (Bonus points if you can name the tune that’s being performed — the main composer’s last name is the same as that of a famous Chicago building.)

Last Sunday city officials broke ground on another stretch of trail separation between 41st and 55th Street, which is slated for completion by the end of the year. Initial funding for the project was provided by the Chicago Park District, while hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffith – the single largest donor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political foe Governor Bruce Rauner – donated $12 million for the completion of the entire lakefront.

The first section of separation, from 31st Street to 41st Street, was completed in June. Work is also currently underway from Oak Street to Ohio Street. The entire trail separation project is scheduled to wrap up next year.

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  • planetshwoop

    Herbie Hancock?

    Enjoyed the footage. I like to continue along the shoreline just under the part where you did the interview. You can often briefly escape the noise of the highway and the quiet is magical.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Leaping lizards, you’re correct! But what’s the name of the song?

  • planetshwoop

    Beyond my talents there. I was thinking of buildings plus the jazz festival. Couldn’t name the song. (Though I was struggling for awhile. New dj named CNA? A band named Prudential or Smurfit?)

  • J

    Chameleon! Also, it’s fantastic that they’re separating peds and cyclists. Is there any guidance on when this is needed? Too many agencies put up “shared-use paths” when it’s entirely inappropriate.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    You will get good karma for that answer.


#1 North Lake Shore Drive Request: Separate Bike, Pedestrian Trails

This week, the Redefine the Drive study team listed the most requested improvements (PDF) that Chicagoans want to see as part of the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive. By far the most popular is also among the easiest and least expensive ways to improve safety: creating separate paths for bicyclists and pedestrians on the overcrowded Lakefront Trail. […]