On Saturday, the Chicago Park District hosted the Lakefront Chill 5k, a free race to celebrate the official opening of the Lakefront Trail upon completion of the separation. In the 18 miles between Ardmore Avenue and 71st Street, cyclists and pedestrians can now enjoy their own, separate lakefront trails.
Superintendent of the Chicago Mayor’s Office Michael Kelly and Ken Griffin, who donated $12 million to fund the project, cut the ribbon on the Dec. 15 event.
“This is the busiest trail in the United States with over 100,000 people a day on it, biking and running,” Kelly said. “And now, finally, pedestrians and cyclists have their own trail.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with the Chicago Area Runners Association, the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago Event Management, and other local organizations helped celebrate the accomplishment with hundreds of runners.
“CARA is excited to see the effect a safer and more accessible trail will have on opportunities to get involved in the Chicago running community,” says Greg Hipp, Executive Director of CARA. “CARA and the Active Transportation Alliance have been meeting with the Chicago Park District planning team on a nearly bi-weekly basis for almost two years. It’s been a complicated and challenging project, and while there is still more we look forward to seeing done along the Lakefront, this is a big win for the running community.”
The project began two years ago, when Griffin announced his donation to the Chicago Park District. Griffin and Emanuel, who are both avid runners and bikers, realized how much of a difference the separation would make to the city of Chicago.
“[We can] do something we’ve been talking about for 20 years,” Emanuel said upon Griffin’s donation in December 2016.
Kelly presented Emanuel and Griffin with special Lakefront Chill 5k bike jerseys to commemorate the completion.
“When the mayor took office, he had a vision with parks and it was called Building on Burnham. He invested in our lakefront, our riverfront and neighborhoods, and our natural areas,” Kelly said at the event. “Under Rahm Emanuel since 2011, we have added 985 acres of parks, we have acquired 5.5 miles of water access, and we are well on our way to 2,020 acres by 2020 of natural area.”