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Half of school children walked or biked to school in 1969, but only 13 percent were doing it in 2009.

New coalition to work toward a continuous Chicago River Trail

For immediate release

August 11, 2017


Media Contact: 

Ted Villaire
Active Transportation Alliance
Communications Director 
O: (312) 216-0484
C: (312) 563-1118


New coalition brings together allies to work for a continuous Chicago River Trail
Coalition will seek to fill in the trail gaps with more projects like the new North Branch Trail segment 


Chicago, Ill: August 11, 2017 — As community members gather tomorrow to celebrate the opening of the new North Branch Trail extension on Chicago’s Northwest Side, advocates for trails and community improvements along the Chicago River took a big step forward by launching the Chicago River Trail Coalition. 

“We’re delighted to see one of the busiest trails in the region getting longer,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, which is organizing the Coalition. “Keeping the momentum going toward 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 our allies to do just that.”

In addition to its aim of working together for more projects like the North Branch Trail extension, Burke said the diverse and rapidly growing coalition will also seek to create safe and easy access to the river so more Chicagoans have opportunities for recreation and healthy transportation. 

“The opening of the North Branch Trail extension brings us one step closer to realizing our collective vision for Great Rivers Chicago, the blueprint to make our rivers inviting, productive and living,” said MarySue Barrett, President of Metropolitan Planning Council. “We are thrilled to support the Chicago River Trail Coalition, this new trail and the benefits it brings to the city’s cyclists, walkers and nature enthusiasts.” 

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

Elected officials acknowledge that a continuous Chicago River Trail is smart public policy. “Extending the North Branch Trail and building a continuous river trail are two of my top priorities,” said 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino. “It’s 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 potential,” said Debbie Liu, Ping Tom Park Advisory Council. “A continuous trail will link neighbors together in an unprecedented fashion.” 

“We are excited to be a part of the Chicago River Trail Coalition which capitalizes on all of the progress that has been made to date,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends of the Chicago River executive director. “The next phase of planning will begin to link existing corridors driving us toward our ultimate goal of a continuous trail that spans all 156 miles of the Chicago River system. Our river is an incredible asset and needed, not just by people, but the plants and animals in and along the water. A continuous trail will inspire people and reconnect them to the river while enhancing the value of the natural corridor for wildlife.”

Founding members of the Chicago River Trail Coalition include Active Transportation Alliance, Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th Ward), Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Friends of the Chicago River, Livable Lake County, LUCHA, Metropolitan Planning Council, North Branch Trail 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 or 312-216-0472

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About the Active Transportation Alliance

The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that advocates for walking, bicycling, and public transit to create healthy, sustainable and equitable communities. The organization works to build a movement around active transportation, encourage physical activity, increase safety and build a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance is supported by more than 7,000 members and 1,000 volunteers. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit or call 312.427.3325.