With summer in full swing, I know that there has been an increase of patronage on the Chicago Lakefront Path by runners – both casual and those training for the Chicago Marathon, cyclist, and casual tourists. Most people that I have encountered on my evening weekday runs and during my long runs have been respectful and have not caused trouble on the Chicago Lakefront Path. But I have also dealt with a handful of people on the lakefront path that have outright disrespectful of others trying to use the path.
I have taken the time to put together a list of tips and suggestions from my personal observations along with past complaints given by people who have used the Chicago Lakefront Path. If you follow this list, I can almost guarantee that you will have a very pleasant experience.
- Do not use headphones while on the Chicago Lakefront Path. Yes, I know that you enjoy listening to your tunes while running and on the bike. I agree that music does have a great effect to maintaining motivation during exercise. At the same note, it does also cause a bit of distraction from your surroundings. I have seen too many incidents on the path where a runner was way too into his/her tunes to pay attention to a cyclist coming up behind them as they attempted to pass another runner on the path. I personally have learned to not listen to music while I am running. I find the sights and sound given by the outdoors have a much calming affect while I am running plus I can know when another runner/cyclist/roller-blader is approaching me from behind me 95% of the time because I hear them.
- Use proper lakefront path etiquette while on the Chicago Lakefront Path...period! If you want to have an enjoyable to experience, this tip is so important. If you are going to pass someone on the path, let the person ahead of you know by saying “On the left” or “On the right”. If you are on a bike, please purchase something that will provide the same affect like a bell, horn, etc. on top of that. I have seen too many close calls involving a serious cyclist on the path zooming past a runner/tourist/roller-blader and not notifying them that are coming right behind them. (Me included!)
- If you are entering a crowded area on the Chicago Lakefront Path, SLOW F!*%ing DOWN! Come on, people! This is simple common sense. There are other people on the path besides YOU! If you need to train for an upcoming race, get your butt up out of bed at the crack of dawn before most of the runners show up to start their own training. It is that simple! If you do choose to use the path later than that, you have to deal with the consequences. Unfortunately, I had a very close call on the path this morning where a cyclist passed a very large group of people going Southbound near Belmont Harbor, but failed to check the traffic heading Northbound. If I had not moved 5 seconds earlier, I would have ended up kissing his bike and crashed right into him. (Gotta love super-fast reflexes!)
- Do not line up more than TWO people across the lane. This is more for the tourists and some training groups that I have seen on the path. Like I just explained to the speedy cyclists, there are other people on the path besides YOU. Please allow enough room for the cyclists to pass you safely and for runners to get completely around you so they do not have to risk getting flattened by a speedy cyclist. Plus also don’t get annoyed when someone alerts you that they are coming up from behind you and you have to move your group over. They have the right to the path too.
- Do not stop in the middle of the path! This is one where this is more directed at the tourists. Yes, the path is great and you see something that you just have to get a picture of or you are waiting to cross Lake Shore Drive with a large group. Do not congregate on the path. One of two things will happen: You will piss off a runner who has to move into the other lane where oncoming bike traffic may be approaching or you will be smooshed by an even more upset speedy cyclist. The choice is yours!
- Look both ways before crossing the path and/or street. This one should be a flipping no-brainer, but you would be surprised to see what I have seen. I have seen a few car-cyclist collisions because a car did not see a cyclist crossing the cross-walk near Montrose. I also saw a roller-blader (who was NOT wearing a helmet too!) this past week jump out onto oncoming traffic that was turning left into Monroe Harbor until I had to warn her before it was too late. Be aware of your surroundings!
- Leave enough room when you pass someone on the path. This is one that I noticed more today than other days. Like how cars as supposed to provide enough room for cyclists on the streets, it is important for cyclist and runners to provide enough room for other cyclists and/or runners.
- Do not zip-zag on the Chicago Lakefront Path or allow your children to do so. This is one that I deal with sometimes especially with families who allow their children to ride their bike behind them without keeping a close eye on them. It is really difficult to pass the group when I cannot properly judge if it is safe to do so because the 5-year-old on the bike with training wheels is moving left to right to left to right, etc. Plus it is dangerous the oncoming traffic because the children may end up in their lane.
- If you are going to slow down, get over to the far right side of the path. This is one that I deal with time and time again. Most of the time the person who chooses to slow down right in front of me has their headphones on and has no clue that the person behind is approaching them. Once again, be aware of your surroundings.
I hope you have either learned something new or have been refreshed on proper path etiquette. I enjoy using the Chicago Lakefront Path and want others to enjoy using it as much as me.