Deliver lakeshore bike riders from chaos

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Bike riding along the lakefront should not be a stressful activity.

Unfortunately, that’s what the lakefront experience is for many of the nearly 20,000 bikers, joggers, and beachgoers who use the path everyday. What should be a recreational trail for users to enjoy the lake breeze and the million-dollar view of the skyline has become utter chaos. Bikers who seem to be training for the Tour de France crowd out the 18-mile long stretch at the expense of those of us just looking to unwind at the end of the day or commute home from work. It feels less like a serene lakefront path than a high-speed eight-lane highway.

You may well know somebody who has been in a collision on the path, as accidents and close calls are daily occurrences. Maybe you’ve been in a crack-up yourself.

According to a 2013 survey [PDF] conducted by the Active Transportation Alliance in partnership with Friends of the Parks and the Chicago Area Runners Association, respondents’ top priorities for improving the lakefront path were to create separate spaces for walking, biking and running and to reduce congestion on the trail to ensure greater safety.

Those sentiments were echoed on Tuesday night at a public meeting to discuss a possible future makeover of North Lake Shore Drive.

“Cyclists do not yield,” one person lamented on a Post-it note provided at the meeting.

“Ditto” wrote a flurry of others.

City planners should make it a priority to include safe and separate routes for pleasure riders and Tour wannabees. City planners already have made a conscious effort to integrate bike transportation into the city streets — it’s time to make improvements to an already popular bike path.

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