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New “People on the Trail” report identifies challenges and opportunities, investigates public perceptions of Chicago’s Lakefront Trail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           

Lee Crandell, Active Transportation Alliance,, 312-427-3325 x395
Tim Jeffries, Friends of the Parks,, 312-857-2757 x12
Wendy Jaehn, Chicago Area Runners Association,, 312- 666-9836

New “People on the Trail” Report Identifies Challenges and Opportunities, Investigates Public Perceptions of Chicago’s Lakefront Trail

GRAPHIC: Map of Lakefront Trail User Satisfaction Ratings

CHICAGO (June 3, 2013) — Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is the busiest trail in the United States, with peak daily usage reaching 30,000 people at key points. The 18-mile trail mixes together people walking, running, biking and in-line skating for recreation and transportation.

But as any Chicagoan who has visited the trail on a beautiful day knows, its incredible popularity can also lead to heavily congested conditions — and even crashes — among people on the trail.

Through a unique partnership, the Active Transportation Alliance, Friends of the Parks and the Chicago Area Runners Association today released the findings of a study on public perceptions of Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.

The report, titled “People on the Trail,” summarizes what trail users think about their trail experience and sets forth principles for a better trail, based on a community outreach process that engaged more than 1,600 trail users. Results from trail user surveys on satisfaction, congestion, conflicts and crashes are detailed in a series of eight maps in the report. Download Map of Lakefront Trail User Satisfaction Ratings

Key recommendations in the report include redesigning lakefront access points to make it safer and easier to access the trail and the lakefront, as well as alleviating trail congestion and reducing crashes by creating new paths to separate higher-speed bike traffic and lower-speed foot traffic.

The report finds that people are least satisfied with the design and condition of the Lakefront Trail between Fullerton Parkway and Randolph Street, while people gave thumbs-up to the trail access points that were redesigned with the reconstruction of South Lake Shore Drive.

“With so many people using the trail every day for so many different purposes, it can lead to a lot of close calls between people walking, running, biking or skating,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “It’s important that we maintain the lakefront as a place that works for all of us, and that’s going to require some improvements to the Lakefront Trail.”

“Chicagoans love the Lakefront Trail. There is no more beautiful place to run, walk, bike or stroll in the city. As we know and you may have experienced, the trail becomes extremely congested on every summer weekend,” said Erma Tranter, executive director of Friends of the Parks. “Our ‘People on the Trail’ report contains information from 1,600 users on the most crowded sections, the quietest segments as well as the conflict points on the trail. We believe this newly completed study will help the Chicago Park District and the city allocate resources to some priority locations.”

“The heavy congestion on the Lakefront Trail shows incredible demand for quality places to run, walk, bike, and roll in Chicago,” said Wendy Jaehn, executive director of Chicago Area Runners Association. “The trail is a unique gem that makes Chicago a truly world-class city, but we need to invest in its future if we want it to continue serving residents’ needs.”


Graphic: Download Map of Lakefront Trail User Satisfaction Ratings:

Full report:

About Active Transportation Alliance
The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance is North America’s largest transportation advocacy organization, supported by more than 7,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 35 full-time staff. For more information on the Active Transportation Alliance, visit or call 312.427.3325.

About Friends of the Parks
Friends of the Parks (FOTP) is a 501(c)(3) designated park advocacy organization, dedicated to preserving, protecting, and improving Chicago’s parks and forest preserves for all citizens. Since 1975, FOTP has increased private and public commitment to Chicago’s parks through establishing park advisory councils, developing new parks, renovating playlots, and presenting public workshops and lectures to create an informed citizenry.

About Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA)
The Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding, motivating, supporting and celebrating the running community of Chicagoland. CARA connects runners to resources that enable them to run—farther, faster, better, for life. CARA was founded in 1978, has more than 8,600 members and is the largest running organization in the Midwest and the third largest in the nation.

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