Chicago Business Owner: No Protected Bike Lanes Is a Dealbreaker

As our Chicago readers are well aware, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made bike infrastructure a key part of his economic strategy. Since Emanuel took office, Chicago has been adding protected bike lanes perhaps faster than any city in the United States. The famously sharp-tongued Emanuel has even pledged to attract businesses from other cities, notably Seattle, with top-quality bike infra.

Jeff Judge, owner of the Chicago-based startup Signal, says he won't consider relocating to a city that doesn't take bike infrastructure seriously. Image: People for Bikes

Well here’s one indication that it’s working. Mary Lauran Hall at People for Bikes reports Chicago business owner Jeff Judge won’t consider a move to another city unless its bike amenities can match what his employees have become accustomed to:

Judge recently weighed moving his marketing startup from Chicago to Boston when a Massachusetts-based company approached him about acquisition.

“The first thing I looked at was what the bike infrastructure is like in Boston,” said Judge. “It’s so important to me. I wouldn’t even give consideration to other cities that don’t have that sort of infrastructure built out, or at least plan to. Why fight against something when there are a lot of great cities in the country making sure that it’s an important attribute?”

Judge’s company is Signal, a marketing platform for small businesses. His small team works out of 1871, a coworking space for digital startups in downtown Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

“We’re close to many protected bike lanes downtown,” explained Judge, who rides in Chicago’s new protected bike lanes on his commute to work. “For me and for my employees, it makes a big difference.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Stop and Move recounts an especially galling example of the business-killing impacts of minimum parking regulations. Streets.mn explains how a Twin Cities suburb is evolving into a walkable place, one small step at a time. And Vibrant Bay Area pontificates on a new design philosophy that calls for smaller, more efficient homes for livable cities.