A Plan to Bike the Length of the Chicago River by 2030

The Chicago River is attracting some of the city's most creative visions for the future. The second plan in recent months proves the potential of the river as an open space asset.
October 25, 2016, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Natapong Ratanavi

Mary Wisniewski reports on a new effort in Chicago to restore the Chicago River. The premise that opens the article: that while Chicago's lakefront is a triumph of planning as the city's frontyard, the river has suffered from long neglect.

Though Daniel Burnham included riverfront promenades in his 1909 Plan for Chicago, most of the land along the river has long been inaccessible or unappealing — a mix of scrub trees and litter, industry and private property. The river was known mainly for pollution, and the fact that it was engineered to flow backward.

Wisniewski's discussion about the Chicago River is set in the context of a new plan for a "continuous bike and pedestrian trail along the entire 27-mile Chicago riverfront by 2030." The plan by the Active Transportation Alliance aims to make the river the city's backyard.

"The ideas for new trail segments range from the more easily achievable — developers on the riverfront south of the Loop including a trail as part of their project, for example — to more complicated ideas such as putting stationary or floating docks over the water in places where it is tough to build on land," according to Wisniewski.

The Chicago River Trail plan builds on another big plan for the Chicago River announced in August. The "Our Great River" plan included a discussion of a continues trail along the river but the "Alliance's preliminary report took it a step further and supplied details about how it could work."

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Published on Monday, October 24, 2016 in Chicago Tribune
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