Coalition calls for a bold vision for reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive

Active Trans is part of a coalition of 15 regional organizations that today released a civic platform for the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive (PDF). The platform calls for a bold vision that will meet the needs of everyone who uses the lakefront.

The document is based on seven principles and includes a host of recommendations for the Illinois Department of Transportation and Chicago Department of Transportation as they embark on a planning study for the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive between Grand and Hollywood avenues.

Rather than reinforce the slow shift toward a superhighway, we urge Chicagoans to weigh in with your ideas to ensure North Lake Shore Drive serves neighborhood residents, tourists, pedestrians, bicyclists, runners, transit users and park-goers.

To make your voice heard, attend an upcoming public meeting about North Lake Shore Drive reconstruction on Aug. 6, 7 or 8.

This planning study offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “Redefine the Drive.” Would you like to see bus-only lanes on Lake Shore Drive and split the Lakefront Trail into two paths to separate higher-speed bike traffic from more leisurely uses?

These are the kinds of ideas Chicago must pursue if we want a future for the lakefront that better serves everyone's needs. Download the civic platform to check out other recommendations for the north lakefront. Then take your favorites to the public meetings.

“Chicagoans deserve an iconic roadway that’s not just scenic to drive along, but is also an asset for everyone who uses the lakefront,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “Our lakefront is an important corridor and green space for walking, biking, running and public transportation.”

“An investment of this scale should not only address today’s needs, but also anticipate our region’s future,” said MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “This means recognizing that Lake Shore Drive isn’t merely a transportation thoroughfare but plays a critical role in creating a livable, economically vibrant city and region.”

“We envision a Lake Shore Drive that creates a stronger connection between Chicagoans and their lakefront, knitting together our neighborhoods, our parks and our beaches,” said Erma Tranter, executive director of Friends of the Park. “Our lakefront represents what is best about Chicago, attracting an estimated 60 million annual visitors.”

You can expect this conversation about the future of North Lake Shore Drive to last for several years, but as residents of Chicagoland, it's critical that we do our part to get the project started off in the right direction by clearly asserting our vision for the future of the lakefront.

Please join us in speaking up and attending the public meetings!

Gill Park
825 West Sheridan Road, 3rd Floor
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Open House: 6 – 8 p.m.

Truman College
1145 West Wilson Avenue, Atrium
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Open House: 6 – 8 p.m.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 North Cannon Drive, South Gallery
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Open House: 6 – 8 p.m.

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response to "Balance for bikes and others"

As a response to a very frustrated individual's post:

While I understand that you are frustrated, you are not the only person concerned with safety. Unfortunately, the notion that only the bike riders are responsible for the 'imbalance' is very opinionated. No one (bike riders, pedestrians, city officials, even the harmless kite-flyers) pays attention to all of the rules, every time, on a daily basis. While I agree with you that bike riders are constantly buzzing by pedestrians irresponsibly, pedestrians are also many times at fault by crossing the path without looking, not paying attention, or blocking the path entirely when with larger groups of people. Simply adding signage will not help anything, no matter to whom the signs are directed.

The simple fact of the matter is that the lakefront path has reached a point beyond its capacity, and no single group is to blame. Everyone is well aware of the laws, and how to navigate the path with courtesy, but the utopian view of everyone abiding by the rules just cannot happen when there are too many users on the path at one time.

You suggest a need for more enforcement. The police are currently struggling as-is to actually enforce the real issues in the city, such as murder, drugs, and car theft. It would be preposterous to take our officers off the street just so they can make sure everyone plays by the rules on the lakefront path. Instead, you need to see the larger picture. If the path can be redesigned so that it can accommodate all modes of travel and uses in harmony, then there will be no need for enforcement! It would be a completely self-regulated object of beauty, catering to kite-flyers, skateboarders, rollerbladers, bike riders, elderly walkers, and everything in between. This is our chance to make that happen!

The lakefront path is for everyone, so please open your mind and try to walk in someone else's shoes. We must actually think of all parties involved and find a peaceful solution.


I agree with this point "FIX the BAD GROOVED CONCRETE " had so many issues over the years. It would be a good to see a well thought plan that suits all users!!

This is good. Students are

This is good. Students are doing good bycicling. This is not only good for body but also for our minds. Keep it up man

North LSD reconstruction

I noted some articles mentioned a possible light rail system. Would recommend an overhead monorail system (like Disneyworld).

Would mostly run over the drive except by the S curve, where it could veer out over to Navy Pier. Advantages are lower overall cost (maintenance, construction and land rights) compared to current light rail systems, reducing traffic and providing a nice tourist attraction that would provide a sparkling view of the lake and the city, without detracting from the views of local lakeside residence (the rails are practically invisible from a mile away). Height would very depending on requirements, but probably from 60-150' above the ground.

Stops would be from Hollywood every mile until downtown, where it would have hits at Northwestern Campus, Navy Pier, the Museum campus and Northerly Island, SoldiersField/McCormick Place and finally the Midway with stops at the Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Chicago. Ideally, eventually the north end would extend to the Northwestern campus in Evanston. This would provide fast transport (60MPH+ speeds) between these areas.

A facit of this project should be the addition of several of the islands in the original Burnham plan for the lake front to server as additional waterfront parks and to support the rail system in the Navy pier area.

Ideally, the units would employ linear motors with self contained powercells. This eliminates the need for employing electrical power through the rails, which is quite inefficient and significantly increases the maintenance requirements. Linear motors have the advantage of almost eliminating track wear as they literally float over the rails on a magnetic field. When traveling below lift threshold levels, a secondary wheeled system can be used (during low speed approach and departure to and from the stations.)

Power cells can be stored in the bottom of the units where they can be easily and automatically swapped out at any system during passenger loading and unloading. Each unit should have sufficient power to propel an additional unit in case of a systems failure between stations.

Several of this type of transit systems have been designed and proposed for major cities, as far back as the mid 90's, but as yet none have been implemented to my knowledge.

Montrose Junction

The grade crossing of the Lake Front Trail at Montrose is dangerous and congested. Bikes have a south bound Yield sign and no north bound sign. Motor vehicles have four way stops, plus the pedestrian-in-the-interesection stop signs and bad visibility when turning. Many of my fellow cyclists don't yield when they should and after dark, bike without lights. The best meaning cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers are confused. Two motor vehicle lanes westbound narrow to one. The pollution caused by all those cars waiting to pass through the intersection on a busy weekend must be incredible. But public access means we have to permit people with cars to use the park. Personally I might prefer to ride my bike (one of my bikes -- commuter, road or mountain, so I'm not just a casual rider) to the harbor, usually I need to carry too much stuff to the boat and have to drive.
Why don't we just move the Lake Front Trail crossing 300 feet east to the existing underpass? A more scenic ride, no stop or yield, much safer and greatly reduced motor vehicle congestion.

Balance for bikes and others

I live by by N. Lakeshore. I welcome bikes, lanes, green travel, etc. BUT
I am astonished by the INDIIFFERENCE of the City and of most bicyclists to the safety and rights of others.


We have contacted aldermen, who in 2+ yrs. have not accomplished anything.
Policemen just laugh or say "forget it" Riders now go to North Ave. Beach and Oak St. Beach and other destinations on sidewalks.

As a pedestrian, I have had many close calls from bikes coming from behind on the sidewalk endangering me and my dog.
There are pregnant, disabled, aged, children, tourists and just plain pedestrians on LSD and nearby streets. Our requests for signage to remind bike riders of the law/ethics go unfulfilled, while no parking signs go up and down like a Swiss watch. One rider, asked to respect pedestrians, said "why, There is no bike lane!"

There needs to be balance. Bike riders as welll as motorists have to respect each other and follow set rules.

There needs to be an acceptance of the need for enforcement.
There needs to be a means of enforcement. e.g. license #s and visible ID's on City Blue bikes
There needs to be education and public outreach and signage
Bike riders should ideally pass a test of understanding of the laws and regs. before getting permission to ride.
Will red light enforcement cameras affect bikes as well as automobiles ? How?


PIC shown here is already BAD idea

First suggestion => FIX the BAD GROOVED CONCRETE path concept in the rendering illustration shown with this meeting invitation.

All paved paths on the lakefront need to be SMOOTH asphalt. NO CONCRETE PATHS with crappy expansion grooves cutting across them and grabbing the small wheels of skate gear - PLEASE!!
Even if concrete must be used at various locations for some reason, then orient the grooves at a 70º angle to the path direction, instead of at 90º to the path. This way wheels roll over them without dropping into the grooves and sticking there. Common sense, and how much more could it really cost to do this? 90º grooves are SO old school obsolete.

2nd suggestion - Have a rock solid path surface quality specification that is at he highest level of smoothness. No lakefront path paving jobs should be signed off for payment unless this minimum smoothness specification is met. Path maintenance also needs to be held to the same high level of path surface smoothness.

Path users on small wheels deserve better than the current hodge podge of cobbled together sections of bumpy and crumbling concrete and too-rough asphalt strung out as a vast patchwork, with some new perfect sections on the south side that abruptly end with sudden transitions to horrible sections of rough cracked asphalt directly adjacent. The northside has plenty similar issues with too many bad surface quality zones and poor material & unevenness transitions at many places.
No path surface joint misalignments greater than 1/8" vertically should be tolerated anywhere along the lakefront path.
Thr current scheme of spraying grossly unsafe holes, cracks, bumps, etc. with yellow spray paint, instead of FIXING THEM is absolutely INSANE!!!

3rd suggestion - have a high speed path route that follows closer to the lake - eliminating all intersections with car flow..
Any new fast path route should be like the south side path, which does not have any cars crossing it - none - Zero - Nada.

4th Suggestion - BAN ALL heavyweight police, garbage, Homeland Tyranny and other municipal vehicles from rolling the lakefront asphalt paths. These paths are not built to withstand the high weight of these larger heavyweight vehicles, and they initiate cracking and premature breakup of the asphalt well in advance of how long it should remain in excellent, smooth, undamaged condition. Vehicles that must traverse the new paths must have a suitably restricted curb weight that matches the paths' design loading limits.

Good Day. -Richard Ledford

Outside of coming to meetings

Outside of coming to meetings (which I cannot do), how can we participate in this decision-making?

The project website says

The project website says they'll do surveys at some point and that residents can submit a form expressing interest in joining one of the task forces. We'll be looking for other opportunities for our supporters to participate and submit comments as well, and will will include this in our monthly newsletter (sign up for e-mail updates on our front page).

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