Did You Know?

Only 24 percent of jobs in the region are accessible by transit in 90 minutes or less by a typical resident — and that number drops to 12 percent in the suburbs.

Chicago River Trail

The idea of a river trail is not a new one. At least as far back as Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan for Chicago, concepts for riverfront promenades and other public spaces have been a part of the public discourse in Chicago.

But thanks to recent initiatives, like the City of Chicago’s Our Great Rivers vision, buzz about a continuous Chicago River Trail has emerged once again.

Urban waterfronts provide cities with unique possibilities for recreation, open space and transportation.

Many world class cities have invested in developing waterfront parks and trails to connect residents with the myriad quality of life benefits they can bring, such as improved health, cleaner environments, and economic opportunity.

While Chicago’s lakefront park and trail system is second to none, the Chicago River has not yet reached its full potential as a community recreation and alternative transportation asset.

A continuous Chicago River Trail system would help meet this potential by transforming a neglected asset into a vibrant open space and active transportation corridor that will connect Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods to the river and to each other in a way they have never been before.


Why we need a Chicago River Trail

Growing evidence from Chicago and other cities shows that safe and accessible trails are smart public policy. A continuous Chicago River Trail would bring many benefits:

  • Promotion of active transportation, like biking and walking, which in turn supports healthy communities, cleaner environments, and a vibrant local economy
  • Providing connections for residents to access much needed open space and recreation opportunities
  • Supporting sustainable economic development through tourism, local retail, and other sectors


Our immediate campaign goals include:

  • Build a large, active, and diverse coalition with members from all Chicago neighborhoods
  • Advocate for projects that lay the foundation for the Chicago River Trail. Projects include:
    • North Branch Trail extension
    • Weber Spur Trail
    • Manor Greenway project
    • Irving Park Road under bridge
    • Riverview bridge
    • 606 extension
    • El Paseo Trail
    • Enhance 18th Street connection to the Lakefront
    • Improve access at Ping Tom Park
    • Create low stress bikeway on Archer
    • Improve Kedzie Avenue bridge for pedestrians and bikes
  • Advance transportation improvements in redevelopment initiatives. We are closely monitoring these projects:
    • Vienna Beef redevelopment
    • Goose Island corridor (North Branch Framework)
    • Lathrop Homes renovation
    • Finkl Steel site
    • Chicago Post Office
    • Riverline development
    • Clark/Roosevelt project
    • Wentworth Avenue extension


Take Action: Endorse the Chicago River Trail campaign

Stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities by signing up for Active Trans’ action alerts using the form below.



Chicago River Trail Action Plan 

Executive summary, Chicago River Trail Action Plan

Our Great Rivers — full report

Bikeways for All — full report


Do you have questions and ideas about the Chicago River Trail? We’d love to hear from you. Please contact Steve Simmons, Active Trans, at 312-216-0472 or


The Chicago River Trail coalition

The Chicago River Trail coalition is a diverse group of organizations working towards a continuous trail along the Chicago River.

Launched by Active Trans in 2017, the coalition will engage relevant stakeholders and build broad public support for new trail segments along the river’s north and south branches. Organizations interested in joining the coalition can contact Steve Simmons at 312-216-0472,

Chicago River Trail coalition members include:



If you’re excited by the prospect of helping spread the word about our campaigns to improve biking, walking and public transit in Chicagoland, you should become an Active Trans Ambassador. Get trained, attend events and share your knowledge.