Lakefront Trail section opens with separate biking, walking paths

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A big portion of the Lakefront Trail is now separated into two paths: one for walkers and one for bikers. (WLS)

A big portion of the Lakefront Trail is now separated into two paths: one for walkers and one for bikers.

It's going to keep the thousands of people who use the path, safer.

The city marked a milestone on Friday morning with one section of the Lakefront Trail now complete.

Signs now mark the path which is separated for pedestrians and bikers, all in the effort to make enjoying the lakefront safer.

Runners, walkers and bikers soaked up the summer, flooding the Lakefront Trail and sometimes crossing congested paths.

But on Friday morning, Southsiders enjoyed more breathing room, when the first completed section of the lakefront separation project opened from 31st Street to 41st Street.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on hand to celebrate with a ribbon cutting.

"With this investment, our lakefront is a defining element of our future and it will allow people to enjoy the lakefront without hearing, 'on your left!'" said Mayor Emanuel.

The Lakefront Trail separation was designed to alleviate areas of congestion by creating two distinct paths, a bike trail and a separate pedestrian trail.

This was all part of the mayor's Building on Burnham initiative to invest in Chicago's parks and open spaces. The Lakefront Trail project used money from a large donation.

"This is the first stretch. We're going to get nine miles done in 2017, we're going to get the other nine miles done in 2018 and finally in the city you don't have to listen to 'on your left' every other block," said Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly.

The city's entire 18-mile Lakefront Trail, which runs from Ardmore on the Northside and to 71st Street on the South side will eventually be separated.

Meanwhile, trail sections from Fullerton Avenue to Ohio Street and from 31st to 51st Streets are still under construction.

Walkers and bikers say this is like a dream come true.

"There were times when I was walking, I'd be walking and bikers would literally almost hit me and now that we have this separation, I feel so much freer," said Lakefront Trail walker Wanda Hill.

"Excited. It's very spacious, I feel safe and I'm able to honestly enjoy my walk. I'm an avid walker so we need that room," said walker Candice Humphrey.

The whole project from north to south is expected to be complete by next year.
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