CARA’s Call to Open the LFT

Lakefront Trail at Oak Street Beach in Chicago Illinois 706242

On March 26th, Mayor Lightfoot made the decision to close the Chicago Lakefront Trail, 606, and Riverwalk. The decision was made in response to a large number of gatherings on the popular paths. It was the first warm weather day and Chicagoans were enjoying the break from winter. Unfortunately, the large gatherings during the beginning of the pandemic resulted in the Mayor taking drastic action and shutting down the trails.

Countless photo’s have popped up of CPD vehicles and officers stationed along the LFT, ensuring no one breaks the Mayor’s ruling. While a necessary approach to ensure social distancing at the time, there have been unintended consequences that have resulted. Athletes are now sharing the streets with cars, buses, and each other, making for crowding in neighborhoods and unsafe running conditions.

The Chicago Area Runner’s Association (CARA) has put together a thoughtful, well-researched, proposal asking that the Mayor reopen the LFT, with limitations such as the trail only being open from 5am-10am and no stopping on the trail. Greg Hipp, Executive Director of CARA, and I sat down to “zoom” about this proposal and how you can help.

The video can be viewed here.

Athletes can learn about and sign the petition supporting the reopening of the trail here. A signature on the petition requires that you agree with CARA’s guidelines for safe running, which are posted below:

  • I will use the trail for through traffic use only (running, walking, biking, or similar). No unnecessary stopping;
  • I will maintain social distance (at least 6 ft), always making room for safe passing;
  • I will run with a mask or face covering anytime I am unable to maintain social distance;
  • I will not gathering in groups that are larger than state reopening plan guidelines;
  • I will change my route and exit the trail if the trail becomes overcrowded.

Over 2,000 people have already signed this petition and 650 people have volunteered to become social distance ambassador volunteers. Learn more about this proposal and how you can become involved.

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Mandi began running in middle school and never stopped. As a high school and college cheerleader, running was the exact athletic counterpart to keep her fitness levels high. While attending The John Marshall Law School in 2007, Mandi ran her first Chicago Marathon, the final year it was partnered with title sponsor, LaSalle Bank. Mandi has continued to run several marathons and half marathons each year. An Illinois licensed attorney, Mandi is currently the Executive Director of the Lake County Municipal League, a council of government representing 42 municipalities in Lake County. An avid weekend race warrior, Mandi tries to run 2-3 races each month from Milwaukee to Chicago and loves the opportunity to report about her experiences in Chicago Athlete


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