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Did You Know?

While the Chicago region’s population grew by 18 percent since 1980, the traffic increased by 66 percent in the same period.

Paddling Chicago River between Irving Park and Diversey

An important part of our campaign for a continuous Chicago River Trail is understanding the nature of land along the river. Getting a sense of the riverbank and adjacent developments help us see how access to the river and connections to a future trail might be created.

To get a better sense of the river edge from Belmont to Diversey, we recently partnered with Friends of the Chicago River on a canoe paddle to experience this area in person.

It’s part of our project to develop neighborhood-backed ideas for connecting two trails that’ll be opening in the near future: the 312 RiverRun, which is on track to be completed in the fall of 2020, and the path at Lathrop Homes, which is slated to open later this summer.

The paddling excursion left from the boathouse at Clark Park and included stops north of Addison to see progress on the 312 RiverRun (pictured below) and Diversey to see the path at Lathrop Homes, Elizabeth Wood Park, and the Gantz Boys and Girls Club.

Along the way, we saw a new deck under construction at Metropolitan Brewing as well as destinations such as Metropolis Coffee and Guild Row Chicago. It’s exciting to think about all these attractions being connected via trail or safe on-street biking and walking facilities.

Some of the challenges in the area also became clear: the river edge is narrow and dense and there’s an industrial presence with several companies located on the riverfront.

For these reasons, the project will likely advance ideas for making on-street connections between the trails in the short term. Thinking ahead about connecting these trails is important because more people will walk and bike here after the 312 RiverRun and path at Lathrop Homes open.

When a connection between Diversey and Belmont emerges, you’ll be able to walk, run, and bike along the river from Diversey all the way to Lawrence, where you can connect with trails in Ronan Park and River Park. A complete Chicago River Trail would promote walking and biking and support healthy communities, cleaner environments, and a vibrant local economy.

So how can you get involved in the project moving forward? If you haven’t already, please make your voice heard by taking the project survey.

Please join the Chicago River Trail campaign so we can keep you updated on the latest developments and advocacy opportunities.

We’d like to thank Friends of the Chicago River for hosting the paddle as well as our neighborhood partners for participating.

Top image courtesy of Friends of the Chicago River