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No Biking On The Riverwalk? New Ordinance Would Force Bicyclists To Walk Their Rides

Ald. Brendan Reilly says the Riverwalk is crowded with pedestrians, making bike riding a hazard.

The Chicago Riverwalk.
Roman Boed/Flickr
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DOWNTOWN — Bicyclists could soon be forced to walk their bikes on the Riverwalk.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has proposed an ordinance that would prohibit bike riding on the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk, which runs along the south bank of the river Downtown, is used by some bicyclists for their commute or for leisurely rides.

But making bicyclists walk their bikes would help protect pedestrians since the path is “drawing some of the largest” crowds of any sidewalk in the city, he said.

“We’re not looking to penalize bicyclists, but common sense would dictate you don’t ride a bicycle through a big crowd of pedestrians,” Reilly said. “Unfortunately, common sense is not prevailing on the Riverwalk.

“… I’m a big fan of keeping Chicago bicycle-friendly, but we can’t have pedestrians and people with strollers or people in wheelchairs being forced off a pedestrian path that close to the water.”

The Riverwalk already has signs that say bicyclists should walk their bikes, but the ordinance would make it so the path’s security staff could tell bicyclists it was against the law to ride their bikes there, Reilly said.

The penalty for bike riding would not be “severe,” Reilly said.

“This is to make sure people understand this is a code violation,” Reilly said.

The city website links to a map for bicyclists that marks the Riverwalk as an off-street trail, and a U.S. Department of Transportation site says the expanded Riverwalk was proposed as including “bicycle and pedestrian facilities” with “bicycle paths and pedestrians trails.”

During the early stages of the Riverwalk’s expansion, a CDOT official also said she was “fine” with the Riverwalk being used as a bicycle path as long as it wasn’t used when the path was “filled with families and people who are using it,” according to Streetsblog.

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