Take a virtual bike ride on the newly completed 312 RiverRun

The new underbridge below Irving Park Road. Image: John Greenfield
The new underbridge below Irving Park Road. Image: John Greenfield

Chicago’s new 312 RiverRun is greater than the sum of its parts. The $18.16 million trail system is an example of cleverly leveraging existing resources in the form of existing parkland and short stretches of multi-use path along the North Branch of the Chicago River and connecting them via new pieces of infrastructure. These are the Riverview Bridge, which takes trail users between the two banks of the river between Addison and Grace streets, and a just-opened underpass below the Irving Park Road bridge.

Judging from what I saw while riding the RiverRun for the first time in daylight this evening around 6:30, the network, which runs 1.5 miles between Montrose and Belmont avenues, is attracting new new visitors to California, Clark, and Horner parks. There were lots of people strolling, walking dogs, jogging, and biking on the path system, past the many amenities in these green spaces and nearby.

The 312 RiverRun (pink lines along river) allows you to travel car-free between Montrose and Belmont. Image: Mellow Chicago Bike Map
The 312 RiverRun (pink lines along river) allows you to travel car-free between Montrose and Belmont. Image: Mellow Chicago Bike Map

These include basketball and tennis courts; baseball fields, including a wheelchair accessible facility; an outdoor pool; playgrounds; soccer fields; a boathouse; and The Garden bike park with dirt jumps. It was already a very vibrant scene, and the The 312 may eventually become become as popular as The 606.

The Riverview Bridge passes below Addison Street. Image: John Greenfield
The Riverview Bridge passes below Addison Street. Image: John Greenfield

Now the next step is improving access to the River Run, so less confident bike riders and families with young children can get there safely and comfortably. Notably, as you can see at the end of the video, access to the southern trailhead on Belmont is very poor.

People bike on the sidewalk by the south trailhead at Belmont. Image: John Greenfield
People bike on the sidewalk by the south trailhead at Belmont. Image: John Greenfield

Belmont is a four-lane road with no bike lanes. Nearby Rockwell Avenue is a good north-south route, but crossing Belmont there is risky because the intersection is near the crest of the Belmont river bridge, and it’s hard to see drivers as they’re coming over the hill. The city should add protected lanes on Belmont, and perhaps a crossing light at Rockwell, as soon as possible.

That concern aside, the 312 RiverRun is a nice new facility for the North Side. It would be great to see Chicago build on this success by using similar strategies to link segments of riverwalk all around the city. That would bring us closer to the ultimate goal of a continuous Chicago River Trail.

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