Part of the task of building a continuous Chicago River Trail means ensuring that other local trails connect to it and ensuring that access from local streets is safe and easy.
We took a step in the direction of creating a well connected Chicago River Trail recently when Chicago residents called on the city to finish the Weber Spur Trail on the city's Northwest Side.
The Weber Spur Trail (depicted on the map in the straight dotted line) will provide a key link to the river trail.
Additional recommendations from the public meeting included the construction of safe street crossings to access the Weber Spur and North Branch Trails, and establishing more neighborhood bicycle paths.
These priorities were highlighted at a public forum held by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the North River Commission (NRC).
CMAP and NRC recently announced they will collaborate with residents on a plan to guide future development in the North River communities, which includes parts of Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair, North Mayfair and Ravenswood Manor. Three CTA Brown line stations (Francisco, Kedzie, Kimball) serve these neighborhoods.
We see this plan as an exciting opportunity to advance a continuous river trail; this area has existing trail segments that greenways could easily link together and improve access to the river and key neighborhood destinations.
We can't wait to see the Weber Spur Trail developed as well as the creation of safer access to the North Branch Trail at spots like, for example, the trail crossing at West Foster Avenue where the North Branch Trail extension ends.
You can see on the map how a vision for bicycle and pedestrian improvements can lay the foundation for the Chicago River Trail.
So what are the next steps?
We will have opportunities for local residents to participate in the planning process. CMAP and NRC plan to host a series of community meetings to collect input from stakeholders and residents. Active Trans will inform you of opportunities for you to make your voice heard.
If you live in this area and have ideas on these issues, we'd love to hear from you. Please comment and help us stay informed. Please contact Steve Simmons at Active Trans at 312-216-0472, firstname.lastname@example.org.