Chicago coronavirus: Running club says it has a plan to safely reopen lakefront

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The 11,000 members of the Chicago Area Runners Association are ready to help the city reopen the lakefront trails this summer.

Weeks ago, the organization known as CARA began formulating a plan that adheres to all state and city guidelines.

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"At no time have we felt that the mayor was wrong," said Greg Hipp, executive director of CARA. "We just think it's time for the mayor to help us move forward."

Thousands of runners are urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot to get the lakefront trails back open. CARA's executive director said his organization is ready to help.

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A group of Chicago runners has its own plan for Mayor Lightfoot on how and when to reopen the lakefront.

"It revolves around initial limited uses," Hipp said. "That being through traffic exercise only. So running, walking, biking. Limited hours. So we are proposing 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. is the initial time the trail would be open."

"When the lakefront will open, it will open when the public health guidance tells us it is time," Lightfoot said Tuesday.

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Lightfoot said the crush of people a few months ago has her approaching reopening cautiously.

"We saw from the experience in February and March, before I shut down the lakefront, that no amount of talking, cajoling and education is going to work for some, so , knowing that, we've got to open up the lake front in a way where we've got specific guidelines in place," Lightfoot said.

Hipp and CARA believe the time to act is now.

"If we wait until Phase 4, people are going to start to let their guard down by then," Hipp said. "And when we enter the lakefront trail, we're going to have a difficult time still being on that high alert of how to social distance."

Hipp also said other running clubs' members are ready to volunteer to being social distancing monitors. That kind of plan has been successful in Seattle, he said. He also said CARA always urges runners to wear face coverings, even when exercising.

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