I had strong suspicions during construction and today I verified them. I live where the lake and river meet and the River Walk literally starts in my backyard. I use it frequently to get from my house to State Street where it ends (or rather ended) and a ramp takes you up to Wacker Drive and the city. Because the regulations for navigation and existing bridges on the Chicago River constrain the width of the path -- can't do anything about that -- I was skeptical about bicycle use when they announced the extension plans. I followed the construction and noticed that there appeared to be no on/off ramps. Finally I discovered one at LaSalle Street (to be finished in about a month).
My tour today may not be typical since it's about the first nice weekend day of the year, and there was a Memorial Day parade downtown, but I literally had to walk my bike the entire way. Commercial and tourist traffic easily clog the narrow paths. I wish they could of engineered a bikeway lane, but I guess the width constraints couldn't accommodate it.
"Stay to the right, pass on the left," sounds more like a political slogan than an aid to navigation on crowded paths. I am sure I, along with many others, will enjoy the path, but not as a bicyclist.
I'm curious what others think. Am I being too harsh with unrealistic expectations?
I ride it every single weekday, from the lakefront to Dearborn, for months. Usually there's just a few others riding, among hundreds of tourists on foot. I wouldn't have even consider it had Google Maps not suggested it.
It's a nice slow segment at beginning/end of an otherwise pretty fast eight mile commute. Just gotta be real patient. Most of the pedestrian's appear to not speak English, so buying a classic ring-ring bike bell made a big difference. Just recently they started widening with a gravel edge, but they also added flintstone mobiles. Even so, I've never had to dismount, nor seen anyone else do so.