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CHICAGO (CBS) — A new study finds tens of thousands of people are using the lakefront bike path every day.
As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, a new study by the Active Transportation Alliance and the Chicago Park District found that more than 70,000 people access the path on a typical weekend during the summer, while more than 60,000 use it on an average weekday.
But the study did not just count cyclists. Of those accessing the path, 70 percent were actually pedestrians, 29 percent were on bikes, and 1 percent were using some other mode of personal transportation, the study said.
But that figure still means nearly 17,500 cyclists are using the path on an average weekday.
The greatest number of bicycles were seen during the morning and evening rush hours on weekdays, leading to the conclusion that the trail is used as a primary route for those who ride their bikes to work.
The volume of pedestrians on the trail peaks between 5:45 and 7 p.m., which means they are likely using the trial for recreation rather than walking commutes, according to the Chicago Park District.
The most popular entry points for the trail overall were Oak Street, the North Avenue pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive, the Ohio Street underpass, and Fullerton Parkway, according to the Park District. At peak times, 575 pedestrians and 100 cyclists used each of these entry points every hour.
For bicyclists specifically, the most popular entry points were Ardmore Avenue at the north end of the trail, Fullerton Parkway, and 11th Street.
With all the use the trail is getting, the study recommended some improvements.
Among them are upgrading the trail design, including drainage and lighting, in spots where it is now out of date. Also suggested is the construction of new underpasses and overpasses that don’t have trail users and beach or park users getting in the way of each other.
Better on-street accessibility is also advised. So are upgrades on the South Side stretch of the trail, at 35th and 67th streets, since those access points had far fewer users than those farther north. A new pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive will be constructed next year at 35th Street.
The study also reaffirms the need for the new bike overpass planned for Navy Pier, which would create a bridge over the Chicago River specifically for bicyclists rather than forcing them onto the lower level of the Lake Shore Drive bridge with pedestrians, runners, skaters, and fast-moving traffic.
The current situation forces trail users to dodge cars at two intersections — Grand Avenue and Illinois Street — which raises safety concerns. The area gets particularly crowded during the Taste of Chicago, the Air and Water Show, and other high-traffic summer events.