Chicago among six cities named models for dedicated bike lanes
BY TINA SFONDELES Transportation Reporter email@example.com May 31, 2012 2:18PM
Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein (left) and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez (right) riding bikes on Kinzie Street protected bike lane in May. File Photo. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.
Updated: May 31, 2012 2:33PM
Chicago is one of six cities chosen as a nationwide model for creating protected bike lanes.
It’s called the Green Lane Project, a two-year study that will support and keep tabs on the progress of Chicago and five other cities — Austin, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — and their efforts in creating “green lanes,” or protected bike lanes.
“This project is going to be more about challenging cities to do more, benchmarking what’s going on in each city,” said Gabe Klein, commissioner for the city’s Department of Transportation said. “It’s sort of a healthy competition but also good for (determining) what’s working and what’s not working.”
Despite a bit of rain, bikers and transportation officials came out to the River North neighborhood in support of the project Thursday near the Kinzie Street protected bike lanes, which officials say saw a 50 percent spike in bike usage after they were constructed.
The project’s goal is to make American cities as bike friendly as European cities, and to make bikers feel safer.
Chicago was chosen in part because of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pledge to create 100 miles of protected bike lanes within his four-year term.
As of last week, six miles of protected bike lanes had been built, while 2.75 miles of buffered bike lanes — lanes divided by paint — were also added, according to the Active Transportation Alliance, which advocates for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
The city plans to add 19.4 more miles of bike lanes by the end of summer.
The city hasn’t mapped out all 100 miles of planned bike lanes, city spokesman Pete Scales said. But a planning map for cycling in Chicago that reaches all the way to 2020 is in the works and could be drawn by next month, he said.
Chicago bike lanes
Purple: Under construction