Was Emanuel saying he would use congestion parking tax for bike lanes a fluke?

It’s been a week and a day since Mayor Emanuel gave a speech to Chicago City Council describing the 2012 budget his administration proposes. In that speech he proposed a $2 per weekday tax on people who park in garages downtown and in River North, in order to “invest in new and existing stations, and bus rapid transit stations, expand bike lanes, and other efforts to reduce congestion in the downtown area”.

In the past eight days, it’s been announced that this “congestion premium” would help pay to construct a new Green Line station at Cermark Road, within blocks of McCormick Place, and help launch a bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

But not a single repeat mention of bike lanes. It wasn’t in the press release, no newspaper is talking about it, and the mayor himself hasn’t mentioned it again. To make sure I wasn’t misreading things or hearing him say it wrong, I took a screenshot of the live transcript on the City Clerk’s website.

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Fourth line from the bottom and you see “bike lanes”. Right now the city is using general revenue funds to pay for the installation of protected bike lanes; using its own tax revenues for bikeways is something the city has rarely done – the bulk of all bikeway installation is paid for by federal (80%) and state funds.

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