Chicago Plans to Become the Next Great American Biking City
Posted on February 11, 2012 by Be Chicagood
It’s just one protected bike lane now, but the Chicago Department of Transportation has a grand vision of miles of bike lanes and a bike-sharing system to rival even the bike-friendliest cities.
Chicago recently unveiled its first stretch of protected bike lane, a half-mile-long stretch of Kinzie Street, from Milwaukee Avenue to Wells Street, connecting the city’s central “Loop” to existing bike lanes to the west. A second protected bike lane along Jackson Boulevard is under construction.
It is part of a bigger vision of connecting Chicago with a series of protected bikes lanes to encourage Chicagoans to bike more. It helps the environment, eases traffic and of course improves your health and lifestyle with daily exercise.
Mayor Emmanuel is pushing hard to make Chicago a bike friendly city of tomorrow. The Mayor has appointed Gabe Klein, the head of the Chicago Department of Transportation, former head of the Washington, D.C. Department of Transportation, and Zipcar alumnus to take charge in this operation. Emanuel is aiming for 100 miles of protected bike lanes in total. The city is also looking for a company to set up and operate a 3,000-bike bike-sharing system by 2012.
Initial data from Chicago’s Kinzie Street protected bike lane suggest it’s doing its job. A Department of Transportation field study found that bike ridership was up 55% along the route, 86% of riders felt “safe” or “very safe” in the new lanes, and 49% of riders felt motorist behavior had improved post-construction.
Protecting bikers a big part of increasing bike ridership. We all know how Chicagoans drive and with jaywalkers and one way streets everywhere, it gets pretty hectic out there for a biker and vis versa. Drivers should also not have to feel uncomfortable by cyclists.
These are some grand and bold visions from our Mayor. Massive traffic congestions have hurt Chicago every year in rankings that surveyed how miserable city dwellers where, how stressed, and commuting. As more people are encouraged to bike, it will hopefully ease traffic and improve our air quality. Less traffic = more happy people.