About Friends of the Lakefront Trail

The Lakefront Trail is a critical piece of Chicago’s infrastructure, with peak daily usage reaching up to 30,000 people at its busiest points.

Friends of the Lakefront Trail, an initiative of the Active Transportation Alliance, represents the interests of Lakefront Trail users and pushes for improving the recreation and transportation conditions on the trail. Active Trans claims a long history of working with our members and the city to improve the Lakefront Trail.

What Friends of the Lakefront Trail is doing now:

Major Infrastructure Improvements
We’re advocating for better trail conditions and better access to the trail, in coordination with our partners Friends of the Parks and Chicago Area Runners Association.

  • Navy Pier Flyover: Our world-class Lakefront Trail now disappears as it passes over the Chicago River and meets up with the entrance to Navy Pier — the most popular tourist destination in the Midwest. This gap creates dangerous conditions for bicyclists, runners, pedestrians and drivers. Construction is expected to begin in 2012, but only two of the three phases of the project are currently funded. Our goal is to achieve full funding of this project and move construction forward in a timely manner.
  • North Lake Shore Drive: Our diverse lakefront users — cyclists, runners, pedestrians, in-line skaters, wheelchair users, beach-goers, drivers — contend with severe congestion and dangerous conflict points on the trail. We need to seize upon a unique opportunity to improve our trail and lakefront access as the City of Chicago begins North Lake Shore Drive reconstruction.
  • Completing the Lakefront Trail: We support filling the gaps in the Lakefront Trail system to create a continuous trail spanning Chicago’s entire lakefront.

Monitoring Lakefront Trail Issues and Projects

We monitor trail issues and work with the Chicago Park District to resolve them. We provide input to the park district on smaller construction projects to ensure trail users’ needs are met. We also push to keep the trail open through all constructions projects and provide clearly-marked detours. Have a trail issue that requires action by the city? We’re here to be your advocate; email us at lakefront@activetrans.org.

Past successes

Active Trans has a proven history of working effectively with our members and the city to improve the Lakefront Trail:

  • Standard Trail Design: We advocated for—and the park district adopted—a standard trail design that enhances safety and ease of travel on the trail.
  • Diversey Bridge: We helped secure funding for the Lakefront Trail bridge at Diversey Harbor, which relieved a bottleneck in the trail.
  • Navy Pier Flyover: We’ve been involved with the Navy Pier Flyover project since meetings for the project began—nearly a decade ago. We’ve provided input on the Flyover’s concept and design, we’ve participated in public meetings with our members and we’ve helped address concerns about the project from nearby residents. Construction on this project should begin spring 2012.
  • South Lake Shore Drive Reconstruction: We secured agreement from the city to keep the trail open during construction, which was completed in 2005. We also advocated for trail improvements where construction required trail removal and replacement.
  • Routing and Design Input: For many years, Active Trans has provided the park district with input on Lakefront Trail design and routing, giving users a say in how our trail is constructed. Due to our input, major trail routing improvements have been made between Foster Ave. and Hollywood Ave. (currently under construction) and between 31st Street and McCormick Place.
  • Traffic Counts: We conducted the first comprehensive Lakefront Trail usage counts for the Chicago Park District, released summer 2011.
  • Maintenance: We advocated for routine trail maintenance and have established a clear channel of communication with the park district to address immediate concerns about trail conditions. We also have worked with the park district to establish standard guidelines for trail access by city vehicles and work crews to avoid trail interruptions.
  • Lakefront Trail Conditions: For many years, we’ve used our blog to provide Lakefront Trail users with regular updates about trail conditions, detours and events affecting trail use. In March 2011, we launched a more extensive system that features more regular updates for trail users, incorporating updates from the trail users themselves.


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