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Bus riders account for more than 20 percent of people using Lake Shore Drive every day while taking up a fraction of the space that cars do.

Chicago River Trail coalition launches as new trail opens

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Last week, the effort to create a continuous Chicago River Trail took a couple of important steps forward.

The first step was the opening of the most recent North Branch Trail Extension, which brings the trail all the way south to West Foster Avenue on Chicago's Northwest Side (see photo).

The second step was the launching the Chicago River Trail coalition, a group of allies that will work for more projects like the new south segment of the North Branch Trail.

We're delighted to see one of the busiest trails in the region getting longer.

Keeping the momentum going towards a continuous trail along the roughly 27 miles of the Chicago River will require persistent advocacy. The Chicago River Trail coalition will provide a forum for Active Trans and its allies to do just that.

The Chicago River Trail coalition, which has been organized by Active Trans, is a diverse and swiftly expanding group of allies that will seek to create safe and easy access to the river so more Chicagoans have opportunities for recreation and healthy transportation.

In the past year, Active Trans' Chicago River Trail campaign released an action plan for building the trail, and has built broad public support, monitored city projects, and lobbied decision-makers to advance our vision for a Chicago River Trail.

The coalition will focus on engaging local officials and relevant public agencies to create additional segments along the North and South Branches of the Chicago River in the coming year.

Extending the North Branch Trail and building a continuous trail are two of my top priorities, said 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino. It is critical we provide safe and convenient routes for people to walk and bike throughout Chicago.

Coalition members see tremendous value in developing the river into a world-class asset. It is an exciting time for all communities along the full stretch of the Chicago River to finally restore it to its full potential, said Debbie Liu, Ping Tom Park Advisory Council. A continuous trail will link neighborhoods together in unprecedented fashion.

Founding members of the coalition include Active Transportation Alliance, Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th Ward), Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Friends of the Chicago River, La Casa Norte, Latin United Community Housing Association, Livable Lake County, Metropolitan Planning Council, North Branch Alliance, Openlands, Ping Tom Park Advisory Council, Respiratory Health Association, and Swedish Covenant Hospital.

Community groups interested in joining the coalition can contact Steve Simmons at 312.216.0472,

Please sign up for Active Trans' Chicago River Trail campaign updates