CHICAGO (CBS) — Construction begins Monday on the latest phase of a project to create separate paths for joggers and cyclists along the popular Lakefront Trail.
The aim is to ease congestion along the 18-mile trail, and reduce the chances of a collision between runners and bikers.READ MORE: Parents Of Michigan School Shooter Arrested And Charged After Manhunt
The latest section of the trail separation project is the northernmost stretch of the trail, from Ardmore to Montrose.
“Whether you’re biking, running, walking, or enjoying, this is supposed to be for enjoyment, not for stress. It’s for relieving stress, not for building up stress,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said after helping break ground on Monday.
When completed, the new bike lane will be 12 feet wide, and the jogging path will be 20 feet wide.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea to help keep both the bikers and the runners safe, and hopefully prevent long-term injuries, and it’ll be a great thing for the city, too. This is one of the more congested areas of the path, so I think it will be very beneficial,” runner Sue Valene said.
City officials began the effort to separate the trail into distinct lanes for bikes and pedestrians last year, starting on the South Side from 31st to 41st streets. Crews also have completed trail separation efforts between Oak and Ohio streets, and between North and Fullerton avenues. Work is also underway to separate the trail from 41st to 55th streets.READ MORE: City Colleges of Chicago Creates Scholarship Honoring Civil Rights Activist Timuel Black
By the end of this year, the city also expects to complete work to separate the trail from 55th to 71st streets, from Wacker Drive to 31st Street, from Oak Street to North Avenue, and from Montrose Avenue to Fullerton Avenue.
Officials said Fullerton Avenue used to be the most dangerous choke point on the trail, with large crowds of pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, and others all trying to funnel onto the same path.
After work was completed on separate lanes for bikers and runners, Montrose Avenue became the new most dangerous spot on the trail.
“Lake Shore Drive and Montrose is the highest rate for bicycle accidents, and my constituents continually complain about all the bicycle accidents happening. This change will make it so much safer for our bicyclists,” Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said.
By having separate designated paths for joggers and cyclists, officials said there will be less need for faster-moving bikes to pass slower-moving runners on the same narrow lane, while also avoiding people headed in the other direction.MORE NEWS: 2 Killed, 6 Wounded In Weekend Shootings In Chicago
The entire $12 million trail separation project is being funded by a gift from billionaire Ken Griffin.