Ambitious Plan Calls For A Floating Bike Path On The Chicago River

By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 1, 2016 8:30PM

A local company is courting support for a grand vision that would connect stretches of floating bike trail to existing and future bike paths along the Chicago River.

The project, called RiverRide and spearheaded by Second Shore, envisions a chain of modular “concrete pontoon segments,” reinforced with steel that would run along the water, connecting dozens of north and side neighborhoods. Components would be produced locally, at Port of Chicago, and use renewable energy such as solar-activated lights and “precipitation-activated” awnings and heating, according to an overview sent to Chicagoist. The path would be secured into the riverbed at various points, but could also be repositioned if riverside development or manufacturing renewal dictated, according to Second Shore co-founder James Chuck.

The design would be “near-permanent, that can also be viewed as temporary,” Chuck told Chicagoist.

Chuck said he and his team began studying the viability of a floating river trail in 2012. He said Second Shore has studied the legal, technical and financial concerns and is now gauging public support working to build “aldermanic coalition.” Most recently, he took his proposal to the 33rd Ward Transportation Action Committee on Thursday. The news site DNAinfo reported on his plan Tuesday.

“Technical doubts are irrelevant. It has been proven to work in a number of environments much more difficult than Chicago,” Chuck said, citing Portland’s floating bike path. “Now we’re making sure citizens want this project, getting feedback and hearing concerns.”

As for a timetable, Chuck said pilot projects, with approval, could be installed as soon as 2018—with Lake Calumet and a river leg between Belmont and Western being prospective pilot sites. Components could potentially be built within less than a year, he said.

Cost could range anywhere between $2 million to $10 million per mile, depending on manufacturing variables, such degree of climate resistance and seasonal use, Chuck said.

In October, biking advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance floated (sorry) their own vision for a continuous river trail that included floating stretches "where no land is available for a traditional trail segment." The two projects were developed independently of each other, Chuck said.

[H/T DNAinfo]