Don’t be fooled by the bike lane map that WGN TV displayed yesterday morning on television. There’s a stark difference between the lines on that map, which denotes the location of all bikeway types (a part of transportation infrastructure, with pavement markings) and recommended bike routes (not a part of transportation infrastructure, without pavement markings), and the lines you see on the ground (a large portion of which are faded). A superimposed “bike lane” sign and the single color representing the aggregated bike lanes, marked shared lanes, and recommended routes, make it seem as if there are more bike lanes than actually exist.
Chicago doesn’t provide an up-to-date online map, but occasionally updates the bikeways geodata on its open data portal (which I used to create the right side map of the above image). The City is short 20 miles of protected bike lanes for the first year of four (25 miles per year, 100 miles total), which ended May 16, 2012.
Watch the TV segment filmed at a spinning class at the Bean – as part of Bike to Work Week – or read the partial transcript below.
Host: “And that suggested map is where you would be the safest, Charlie?”
Charlie Short, Chicago Bicycling Ambassadors coordinator: “Absolutely, it’s really easy to get from one place to the next on the map, whether it’s on a regular bike lane or one of the recommended routes”.
Host: “Cause we have bike lanes now”.
Charlie: “We do. We have a lot of bike lanes. We have over 100 miles of bike lanes. That’s just regular bike lanes. We also have protected bike lanes that keep riders more safe than they would be just on the street”.
Grid Chicago isn’t aware of research that shows the impact on bicyclists’ safety (usually a measurement in the change of crashes and injuries) when cyclists use recommended routes. Recommended routes do not have markings or signage that indicate how people driving or bicycling should use that part of the road; recommended routes should not have been included in the WGN’s on-screen map, or the distinction between marked, on-street facilities and “passive recommendations” should have been made more clear.