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The People Have Spoken: What Works & What Doesn't on the Lakefront Trail

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The Lakefront Trail is the busiest in the country, and on summer weekends you'll know it. Collisions and a generally awkward coexistence of bikers, joggers, walkers, and in-line skaters characterize bottlenecks up and down the trail's 18 miles (mostly concentrated b/w Fullerton and Museum Campus). Minimal pavement markings or signage, and a range of skill level makes this chaos possible. Other segments and access points have their own delights or horrors, and so the Friends of the Lakefront Trail, an initiative of Active Trans, Friends of the Parks, and the Chicago Area Runners Association, set out to survey public perception on highlights, lowlights, and where reengineering and/or beautification might be of use. A range of principles were applied to the happy functioning of the trail, informed by over 1,500 respondents in the Friends' survey. A full report (pdf) details the findings and presents data on user satisfaction, congestion, collisions, and safety via a set of heat maps. We've reproduced the map showing design and condition satisfaction levels by trail segment. The most acute problems are clustered in the trail's midsection, everything from vehicle conflict at access points to trail overuse and lack of etiquette. "Smart street" traffic engineering can alleviate vehicle conflicts while smarter design at targeted spots along the trail can smooth travel at a time when the trail's popularity is close to outstripping capacity.
·People on the Trail: A Report on Lakefront Trail User Perceptions [pdf]
·Friends of the Lakefront Trail [official]