With New Trail, You Can Bike Downtown

A planned thre-mile trail extension will provide more, and easier, ways to bike to downtown Chicago. The Cook County Forest Preserve District plans to start the trail this summer.


Have you ever biked to downtown Chicago, or to the Chicago lakefront, from the Niles, Park Ridge or Morton Grove area?

It's challenging because the North Branch Bicycle Trail, the longest linear trail in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County's system, ends at Devon and Caldwell, leaving you to navigate the streets. You'll need a map and some luck, because the streets are crowded.

Now, the Forest Preserve District has announced it is extending the trail three miles southward, as far as the Irene Hernandez Woods at Foster and Kostner, and that cyclists can then get onto City of Chicago on-street bike lanes to reach the Chicago lakefront trail. 

The map of Chicago bike lanes provides various ways to get to the lakefront trail or to downtown Chicago. 

Map of North Branch Bicycle Trail (southern half)

A forest preserve district statement said the project is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and  and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Program.

The trail, which runs through Niles and Morton Grove and ends, at its northern point, at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, is also being extended .8 mile on the north end. Once completed, it will connect to the Greenway Trail in Lake County, as well as to Metra and PACE lines. 

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Construction is expected to start this summer, according to the district, and be completed by 2014.

“We are leveraging federal grants to make smart investments in our County’s trail system,” Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “These projects will enhance regional connectivity, provide new opportunities for recreation and commuting, drive tourism and economic development, and increase livability and public safety.”

The Forest Preserve District's statement also said improvements to the trail system would be made, including bridge and underpass repairs, reconstruction and repairs of paved and unpaved trails, and trail crossing safety improvements. The loop trails and District-wide improvements are funded through the Forest Preserve District’s 2012 bond issue.

Additionally, the district is also set to begin a trail master planning process in 2013. The master plan will identify new trailhead locations, determine sites for bike rental and other concessions, and enhance trail signage. That project is supported with technical assistance from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. 

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Harry Gio February 12, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Bike trails are for fools! In a BAD economy (riding in the woods), people are just asking for it; to become victims to another stickup guy... Not me, Jack! I've seen way, way too many movies and read way too many stories in the newspaper... Use your heads and stay AWAY from wooded areas with your bike, even if there are 20 of you together, because all it takes is a stickup man with a gun to rob and/or injure all of you... Sell the bike and use the money to pay for a membership at the health club... It's MUCH safer!
sherwin dubren February 12, 2013 at 10:10 PM
I have been riding these bike trails for over a decade and have never had any problems. I also have not seen any news articles about attacks along this trail. As chicken little would say, the sky is not falling down.
Christopher DuFour February 13, 2013 at 03:02 PM
No stickup men. Get serious. I have never had anybody bother me, nor have I seen anyone be bothered while riding their bike on any northern trails in the 8 years I have been riding here. I ride almost daily spring through fall. Ignore that first post, the guy gets his information from some movie he saw.


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