Klein with Active Trans’ Julia Kim.
With terrific weather there was a good turnout at today’s Bike to Work Rally under the giant Picasso in Daley Plaza. As the festivities wound down, I buttonholed Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein to ask him a few questions about the state of cycling in Chicago.
This is going to be a big year for bicycling in Chicago. What things are you most excited about that are coming up this year?
There’s so much that we’re working on, but I’m really proud of the bike team’s efforts on the protected bike lanes and the buffered bike lanes, and traditional bike lanes. I mean, last year we put in 39 miles all across the board, which was probably more than we’ve ever done. This year we’re going to put in 25 miles of protected and buffered bike lanes, mostly protected. So I’m very excited about our efforts to make it safer for people, particularly to get to work. That’s why Bike to Work Week is great. What we’ve seen, and I’ve heard it from people in our agency is, people are like, “Wow, I didn’t know it was so much fun and so fast and so easy to get to work on my bike.” And now if we can just make it a little safer, then I think people will be like, “There’s no good reason not to do this.”
Elizabeth Adamczyk discusses the Streets for Cycling network with CDOT Bicycle Program engineer Nate Rosebury.
Why do you think are going to be the biggest challenges this year as you put in the new facilities?
I think we need to educate people as to what they are, and that goes for motorists as well as bicyclists, or people that aren’t cyclists but want to bike. Some of that happens naturally over time, like we saw with the Kinzie protected bike lane. And some of it means that we have to have our bike ambassadors out there. We have to have folks actually explain to people, “Yes who have to actually stop at a stoplight, stop at a stop sign and so on.” We’re going to work on an information campaign for bike safety as well.
Bicycling Ambassadors Angel Montalvo, Kayla Livingston and Genaro Escarzaga.
Yesterday at the Mayor’s Bike Advisory Council meeting they announced that the bike share program is probably not going to launch this year. What do you have to say about that?
What I’ll say is that it’s going to launch in the next six to twelve months. We don’t know exactly what month it’s going to launch. Some of it has something to do with weather. So if we get to the point where it’s going to be an October launch then we might just want to go ahead and wait until March or April. And unfortunately these things always run behind a bit, these big projects. So we knew all along that if it slipped too far into the late summer or early fall we might have to do the spring. And, to be honest, we’re still not sure yet.
The bike share contract has been challenged. Are you confident that that problem is going to be resolved?
You know, I haven’t been involved in any of that. That’s happening over at Procurement, but I can tell you that we’ll be launching bike share in the next six to twelve months.
OK. Any other thoughts?
It was just such a great Bike to Work Week. I rode every day and I saw so many people out on the road having a good time getting to work. And I just hope that this really sort of catalyzes a movement of people biking to work every week.
Grid Chicago is a blog about sustainable transportation matters, projects and culture in Chicago and Illinois, by John Greenfield and Steven Vance since June 2011.
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