Alyson Fletcher counts cyclists on 18th Street.
The need for knowing how many people are cycling in Chicago should be obvious: to plan a good bikeway network that considers where people are already cycling; and to track the progress of the Bike 2015 Plan and other related plans. There are multiple needs to count cyclists in Chicago, for civic planning, academic research, and business promotion. On Tuesday morning and afternoon last week, volunteers at several downtown Chicago intersections were armed with pencil and paper to count people cycling (towards downtown in the morning, away from in the afternoon).
The City’s bike count program is now getting into a groove of consistent and periodic tabulating after a time of sporadic counts in different locations (mostly for single facility analysis). A good bike count program is permanent, counting people at the same times on a regular basis at the same location. The new program, which started in 2011, will count cyclists at the same places in downtown Chicago, at the same time each month. Not only can the City use this information to plan a network (and hopefully more bikeways in the Loop), but it can be used to track the impact of bikeways and cyclists on ridership and traffic, respectively. Continue reading Bike counts are important to businesses and in evaluating our progress
Bike counts are getting more attention this year than in previous years. Watch these two short interviews to get a little insight on how. A full story will be published later.
Alyson Fletcher is a graduate student from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; she’s also volunteered for Active Transportation Alliance. She was here last week to count cyclists on 18th Street and Kinzie Street. Watch the video to learn more about her masters project.
Alessandro Panella volunteered for the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) quarterly downtown bike count on Tuesday. Watch the video to learn about the responsibilities he had at Randolph and Canal Streets, and his idea to make a robust bike count program.
Watch all of our other videos on the blog, or on Vimeo.
P.S. It was after my interview with Fletcher that I photographed two people driving in the bike lane.
Photo of Fletcher filling out her counting chart (tally sheet).
Cycling in Copenhagen next to articulated buses. All high-volume intersections are bathed in blue to show where each vehicle operator, people cycling and driving alike, where to maneuver. Photo by Mikael Colville-Anderson, the Copenhagenize author.
I saw an old post on Copenhagenize, a popular blog about bicycle cultures (which Chicago is not). It’s called, 18 ways to know that you have a bicycle culture. Jokingly, I thought to reply blindly, “Nope, don’t have that”, to all items in the list. Some of the signs seem listed to poke fun at cities with bicycle subcultures, even though they would more likely happen in a bicycle than outside of one. For example, #12 says:
When you see somebody with rolled up trouser legs you think, ‘what a shame that fellow can’t afford a chain guard’. You consider rolling up next to him at the next light to give him some money.
Continue reading Building a bicycle culture in Chicago: does it get worse before it gets better?
Silversmith and fur trader John Kinzie was one of Chicago’s first settlers, so it’s appropriate that a pioneering bicycle facility was built on his namesake street. Yesterday was the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, the city’s first, which runs a half mile between Milwaukee Avenue and Wells Street.
Staffers from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), downtown alderman Brendan Reilly’s office, the Active Transportation Alliance and SRAM, a local bike parts company, were there to celebrate. There were only a handful of civilian cyclists present, partly due to the 11 am start time. The city’s Bicycling Ambassadors and Junior Ambassadors were out in force and the freaky marching band Environmental Encroachment provided a spirited soundtrack.
With the fragrant Blommer Chocolate factory as a backdrop, CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, nattily dressed in a white suit, gave opening remarks. He stressed the importance of the new bike lane, which protects cyclists from moving traffic via flexible bollards and a line of parked cars, in encouraging more people to try urban cycling. “If you want to change people’s behavior and make if feel like it’s safe to walk and bike, you’ve got to make it safer,” he said.
Continue reading It’s official: Kinzie is ready to ride