Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee approves Chicago’s bike share plan


This morning at City Hall, the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee approved an ordinance to enter into a contract with Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. to run the city’s first major bike sharing system with 3,000 bikes at 300 stations, slated to launch in September. Another 1,000 bikes at 100 kiosks will be added next year. The approval paves the way for fulfilling Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s promise to create a large-scale bike share system in his first term, a move that could dramatically increase Chicago’s bicycle mode share. The full council will vote on this April 18th.

At the committee meeting Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) staff presented the plan to a handful of aldermen. CDOT First Deputy Commissioner Pat Harney, outlined Alta’s qualifications for implementing the program, noting that the company runs bike share systems in several other large cities, including London, Melbourne, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and Montreal.

Harney also argued that bike sharing will provide a convenient transportation option and health benefits for many Chicagoans. “The Surgeon General Reports that just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day will produce long-term health benefits,” he said. “This means that just a quick ride to the train station or grocery store and back several days a week will lead to improved health for many residents.”

Continue reading Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee approves Chicago’s bike share plan

Are the upcoming Streets for Cycling projects in good locations?


The Garfield Park fieldhouse, along the upcoming West Side Boulevards bike route

After attending the West Side and South Side meetings for the Streets for Cycling plan to install hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes and other innovative bikeways, I confess I was a little concerned about the city’s initial plans.

At the meetings, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) staffers announced that a 4.1-mile network of protected bike lanes (PBLs) will be built along the West Side segment of the Boulevard System. Another 1.5-mile segment will be built along Garfield Boulevard (5500 S.) from King to Halsted. CDOT also announced that the city’s first neighborhood greenway (AKA bike boulevard), a traffic-calmed, bike-and-ped-prioritized side street, will be created on a .9-mile stretch of Berteau Avenue (4200 N.) from Lincoln to Clark.


CDOT handout outlining the West Side Boulevard PBL route

I became more nervous about these locations after I learned that the West Side route and the Berteau greenway were first proposed by aldermen, and that one of the main motivations for putting PBLs on the boulevards is traffic calming. It reminded me of how, when I used to work for the city getting bike racks installed, aldermen would sometimes ask us to install racks at the end of a cul-de-sac to keep cars from driving over the curb, not because anyone would actually want to park a bike there.

Continue reading Are the upcoming Streets for Cycling projects in good locations?