Safety Tips


Please be respectful of the restrictions and protocols in place for the safety of everyone on the Riverwalk.

The City of Chicago is pleased to welcome you to the Chicago Riverwalk!  The Chicago Riverwalk is a popular destination for downtown workers, residents and visitors enjoying one of the many concessions, public art, or people watching along the 1.25 mile long path!  The Department Assets, information and Services, in coordination with the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department have prepared the following list of safety tips in order to make your visit more enjoyable.

The Chicago Riverwalk is a pedestrian path surrounded by landscaping and public art, in a canyon of world famous architecture.  Remember that you are still in an urban environment and need to be aware of your surroundings.  Chicago Riverwalk Security can be easily found with their yellow shirts and jackets patrolling the entire stretch of the Riverwalk between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Street.  The Chicago Police Officers also patrol the Chicago Riverwalk and can be frequently observed throughout the path on foot or bike.

Enjoy Your Visit and Be Advised of the Following Tips:​

  • If you see something, say something!  If you observe any suspicious activity, individuals or packages, do not hesitate to report it to Riverwalk security officers or 911!  Be prepared to describe specifically what you observed including:
    • Who or what you saw;
    • When you saw it;
    • Where is occurred; and
    • Why it’s suspicious.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel that something is out of place or something is wrong, pay attention, and act appropriately.  If it doesn’t look or feel right, it might not be. 
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings and other people.  If you feel uneasy, walk into a nearby concession, most concessions have security on site who can assist you directly, contact Chicago Riverwalk security and, if necessary, contact the Chicago Police. 
  • Display an aware, confident attitude. Body language says a lot.  Walk with your head up, and stay alert.  Don’t be an easy target!
  • Keep a secure grip on your purse or bag, and close to your body. Do not allow it to dangle. Keep personal bags secured so potential pic-pockets do not have easy access.  Keep your wallet in your bag and out of sight.  Do not hang your purse or bag on the back of chair.  Carry your purse or bag in a manner that makes it hard to get – across your chest or under your arm where it can’t be easily grabbed.  Wallets should be inside coat pockets or side pant pockets.
  • Be cautious with strangers who ask for directions, or money.  These interactions may be an attempt to draw you near to be victimized. Do not let your guard down. Answer with brief, firm statements and direct the individuals to security officers wearing the yellow shirts.
  • Peddling on the Chicago Riverwalk is prohibited.  Do not purchase any items from peddlers on the Chicago Riverwalk.  Peddlers may approach you for the sale of candy, but these interactions are a way for potential thieves to identify the location of your wallet. 
  • When in doubt, bring attention to yourself and a potential criminal, YELL. You may also yell "FIRE", or "HELP". If you feel a little embarrassed afterwards, that is ok. You make the choice, embarrassment or victimization? Criminals do not want to be identified.


Reporting an Incident to 911

​In the event you observe an incident that requires a response from Chicago Police or Fire Departments, when calling 911 remember these pointers:


Landside Incidents:

  • ​Calmly describe the incident.
  • State that you are on the Chicago Riverwalk on the South Bank of the Chicago River, along Wacker Drive.


Water Related Incidents:​

  • Do Not Jump In the River!  Many times people attempting to rescue potential drowning victims become victims themselves. 
  • Life rings are in bright yellow boxes on each of the bridge abutments.  And there are stands in the Esplanade portion of the Riverwalk. 
  • Use a very loud and authoritative tone to yell at the individual to self-rescue by swimming to the dockwall.  Do not underestimate the power of your voice!
  • Do not attempt to pull the individual out of the water, they can easily pull you in! Instead tell them to hold on until the Fire Department arrives. 
  • Always call 911 for Fire Department to assess victims for signs of “dry drowning”
  • If you witness a person submerge below the surface, use stationary markers and reference points along the shoreline to help identify the spot.  Boats will continue to move, so use signage, trees or posts along the path or identifiers across the river that are not moving.  Witnesses who remain on the scene during these types of incidents are very helpful guiding First Responders to the location of the victim.  Identify yourself as a witness to the incident.


 Rules of the River:​

  • All pets must be on a leash  (MCC 7-12-030)
  • Bike riding on the Riverwalk is prohibited west of State Street (MCC 9-52-020)
  • Skateboarding on the Riverwalk is prohibited (MCC4-244-140)
  • Smoking on water front is prohibited (MCC 10-4-240)
  • Alcohol is only permitted in designated areas.


General Riverwalk Policies:​

Bikes and scooters should be walked when the path is crowded.  In addition to skateboards, personal vehicles like segways or motorized scooters are not permitted.  The Chicago Riverwalk is a popular destination and typically the crowds prevent the safe use of wheeled vehicles or recreational equipment.  This is for everyone’s safety.

Grilling on the Chicago Riverwalk is not permitted.  Visitors are encouraged to bring picnics and food and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy the Chicago Riverwalk.  Grilling is not allowed.  Concessions are throughout the length of the path and can also provide a variety of food and drink options.​

We hope you enjoy your visit to the Chicago Riverwalk!