BUCKTOWN — As patios across the city open and Navy Pier gets back to business, neighbors living along The 606 are ready to get back on their bike path.
But as of Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had not reopened the trail or the lakefront.
While the trail has been empty for months, at least a dozen cyclists, runners and pedestrians were on it Friday morning. Most of the police tape that closed entrances to the popular trail had been removed — or jumped over.
Dana Gullen is a nanny for a Bucktown family. Each day this week, during walks or trips to the Churchill Dog Park, Gullen said she’s seen people using the trail.
Trail use has seemed to come in “waves,” Gullen said; when one runner goes up, several others follow. One day she saw about a dozen teenage boys biking together in a group.
“I think earlier in the week, with ongoing protests the police attention was elsewhere … people felt like they would be able to [use the trail] without getting in trouble,” she said. “It’s confusing. Libraries are starting to reopen. Parks west of Lake Shore Drive are opening. I think it’s hard for those to open but not the trails people are exclusively using for recreation.”
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said he has not heard from Lightfoot’s office about when the path will reopen, and urged neighbors on the eastern portion of the trail to utilize the new Shared Street program, which spans the length of the trail along Wabansia Avenue in Bucktown and Cortland Street in Logan Square.
Barricades for the Shared Streets program were being installed Friday and will be fully operational Saturday, La Spata said.
“They should 110 percent not be up there,” La Spata said of neighbors using the 606. “It’s not open and none of those barricades have been taken down. It’s people going up who are taking things into their own hands.”
Though some blue Chicago Police Department barricades remain in place, previous police officer presence at the trail exits and entrances has largely tapered off. La Spata said he planned to request police patrols of the trail to enforce its closure.
When asked why the trail remained closed when the Riverwalk and Navy Pier are open, La Spata said the 606 is more narrow than both of those places, which allow for more social distancing.
Outdoor transmission of coronavirus is rare, but not impossible. Those exercising outdoors are expected to maintain a distance of six feet or more from others and wear a face covering when that isn’t possible.
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