Look Out Portland, New York, Minneapolis: Here Comes Chicago

Chicago is making giant leaps toward bike friendliness in the Emanuel administration's early days. Photo: Steven Can Plan

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is wasting no time making good on his campaign promise to make Chicago a world-class cycling city. Just 24 days after his swearing-in ceremony, Chicago has its first bike box.

The new mayor and his department of transportation head, Gabe Klein, formerly of DC, held a press conference Tuesday at the site of the Windy City’s first separated bike lane: Kinzie Street. There they announced plans to build 100 miles of separated lanes during Emanuel’s first term.

Steve Vance at Network blog Steven Can Plan has been covering the story as it emerges.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed [a bike box] Tuesday morning, on Day 2 of the Kinzie Street protected bike lane project (read about Day 1). I asked a CDOT worker if it will be painted green or another color and they replied it would probably would. It appears that the design for the project is still being done while construction proceeds. I expect a section of the next block will be worked on tomorrow.

And just three days prior

Construction of the Kinzie cycle track is proposed to begin next week, and is expected to be completed by Chicago’s Bike to Work Day on June 17th. The Kinzie cycle track will introduce features that have not been seen to date with Chicago bike lanes, including:

  • flexible posts (delineators) to separate the bike lane from motor vehicle traffic;
  • pavement markings through intersections to indicate cyclist travel;
  • special pavement markings and signage; and
  • parking shifted off curb to provide additional buffer between cyclists and traffic.

This is history in the making – for Chicago only, of course. (These cities already have protected bike lanes.) Keep your eyes peeled for subsequent construction.

Emanuel had originally promised to install two separated bike lanes by the end of his first 100 days in office, but he appears to be on pace to meet that goal and then some. Emanuel told a CBS reporter yesterday he wants to make Chicago the bike-friendliest city in the country. Exciting news for Chicago and cycling advocates everywhere.

Elsewhere on the Network today: New Jersey Future explains how the state’s innovative Urban Transit Hub tax credit has helped make Newark a magnet for business; Transit in Utah takes on the claim that long-distance Amtrak routes are responsible for the service’s unprofitability; and Cap’n Transit explains why New York City’s popular High Line park won’t work just anywhere.