Rahm Emanuel’s Bike Plan for Chicago Gets High Marks

In his closely-watched bid for the Chicago mayoralty, Rahm Emanuel is making waves with his transportation platform. Last week he released a transportation plan that puts transit front and center. And in the bicycling component of the plan, released yesterday, Emanuel continues to hit all the right notes, dropping phrases like “cycle track” and “bike parking requirements.”

Emanuel is the first Chicago mayoral candidate to release such a detailed plan for cycling, and it’s made Steven Vance at Network blog Steven can plan a believer. Vance reports that Emanuel’s plan borrowed heavily from Randy Neufeld’s “10 Ideas for Cycling in Chicago.” Neufeld is the former director of Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance, where he currently serves on the board.

The highlights from Rahm’s plan, as selected by Vance, are below:

Emanuel's plan calls for separated cycle tracks, like the one pictured here on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Photo: Steven Can Plan

He will build 25 miles of new bike lanes each year and prioritize protected bike lanes. Great, Chicago will finally catch up on this sought-after bikeway over 12 years after one was installed in Davis, California. New York City installed several miles of this in Manhattan in 2008 and continues today.

“…initiate a review of [the Bike 2015 Plan's] goals and timelines to identify opportunities to expand the plan and accelerate the pace of implementation.” Right on. This needs to be done so we know our progress.

“…create a bike lane network that allows every Chicagoan – from kids on their first ride to senior citizens on their way to the grocery store – to feel safe on our streets.” Hey, that’s exactly what Randy said: Make bicycling for everyone, “from 8 to 80.”

Rahm will have the Bloomingdale Trail open and functional by the end of his term. The abandoned, elevated rail line promises to be an important part of the bikeway network, but also a neat recreational facility.

It will be interesting to see if other candidates come forward with competing plans to help make Chicago a leader in active transportation.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Urban Indy reports on the highs and lows of new statewide Complete Streets legislation. Ryan Avent asks whether government investments encouraging urban density — and the resulting boost in productivity — might pay higher dividends than even investments in education. And Human Transit reports on San Francisco’s project to turn buses into mobile canvasses honoring endangered species. The campaign is intended to illustrate how people’s behavior and the lives of endangered species are intertwined.