CHICAGO (CBS) — Closed or open?
Confusion is rampant among people in Chicago flocking to the Lakefront Trail. As some places have reopened in Phase 3 of the city’s pandemic reopening plan, the popular area remains shut down.
As CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported, dozens of people are thus being turned away. A constant stream of bikers, runners, and walkers are being rerouted to the west side of Lake Shore Drive.
As Chicago Park District security waved at people who were on the wrong side of the Drive, many of them were surprised they were violating the rules.
Some traveled for a while before they hit the roadblock.
“I got on near Belmont, rode up toward Wrigleyville. I went to the beach for a while,” said Franklin Eruo. “Now I’m riding back.”
Police are also positioned along the east trail that is closed – all 18 miles of it.
“For the past few weeks, everybody is unsure if the lakefront is open, so I think they just need to have it posted somewhere,” said Marcella Kukulka.
CBS 2 saw spotty enforcement. In some cases, people rode right by officers.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot instructed police to stand guard in March. Her goal was to stop crowds from potentially spreading COVID-19 on the lakefront.
“We certainly believe the trail can be used safely,” said Greg Hipp, executive director of the Chicago Area Runners Association.
The group, known for short as CARA, thinks it is time to open for exercise. It proposed a lakefront plan earlier this month to the Mayor’s office.
Hipp said the trail is essential for runners’ safety.
“CARA’s been hearing from both the running community as well as general members of the community for quite some time now about congested sidewalks; an inability to social distance,” Hipp said.
He said the lakefront provides more room, and limited hours could be the solution.
That plan is already in place on Chicago’s Riverwalk. The Mayor’s office opened the approximately 1.5-mile stretch because it is easier to manage and enforce rules upon.
Getting people to follow stricter rules in other places is proving problematic, with some saying they should be posted somewhere.
We asked Chicago Police about their enforcement and if any citations were being given out. Chicago Police responded with a blanket statement, saying the stay-at-home order is still in effect for the lakefront, and it’s in the interest of the health and safety of Chicago residents.
We reached out to the Mayor’s office for some direction on the subject, but had not heard back as of late Sunday afternoon.