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Chicago the nation’s fifth-friendliest to bicyclists

Traffic moves eastbound along new bike path Kinzie St. between Orleans Wells during morning rush hour Thursday June 23 2011.

Traffic moves eastbound along the new bike path on Kinzie St. between Orleans and Wells during morning rush hour Thursday, June 23, 2011. | Ernie Torres~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 2, 2012 9:47AM

Chicago ranks fifth among the 50 most bike-friendly cities in the country and has jumped five rungs from its last ranking, according to Bicycling magazine’s 2012 list.

Ahead of Chicago on the list, which the magazine publishes every two years, was Portland, Ore., ranked No. 1, followed by Minneapolis, Boulder, Colo., and Washington, D.C.

The latest list is in the magazine’s July 2012 issue, which will be on news stands May 29.

In announcing the improved ranking, the magazine cited the city’s installation last year of a protected bike lane on a half-mile stretch of Kinzie Street in River North, one of 100 miles of such lanes Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to deliver during his first term. It also lauded the city’s plans to expand its bike-sharing program. In April, the City Council approved a plan for Chicago to have 3,000 bicycles to rent from 300 stations this summer and 4,000 bikes at 400 stations by next year.

The magazine also singled out the city’s Streets for Cycling 2020 plan, which will guide the development of a citywide network of 150 to 250 miles of bikeways designed to make bicycling a safe and easy option for Chicagoans.

It said the city for has “an ambitious agenda to reinvigorate Chicago’s bike network” and lauded Chicago’s Bike the Drive event, held for cyclists each May on Lake Shore Drive.

“We are thrilled that our investment has been recognized nationally,” said spokesman, Tom Alexander. “The mayor’s goal is for Chicago to be the most bike-friendly city in the nation, and we are well on our way.”

The list includes cities with populations of 95,000 or more. It is based on data provided by the Alliance for Biking, the League of American Bicyclists and input from local advocates and bike/pedestrian coordinators. To make the list, cities must possess a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture, according to the magazine.

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