A quick interview with Gabe Klein at the Bike to Work Rally


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.”

Continue reading A quick interview with Gabe Klein at the Bike to Work Rally

Does the City of Chicago do enough to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe?


“Biker Boy” by Alice Dubois. Alice’s paintings are on display this month at Charmers Cafe, 1500 W. Jarvis, and the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington.

[Ed. note: This article was contributed by Carly Syms, a grad student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. The piece also appears on the Medill Reports website. Carly completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. She eventually wants to get into sports journalism.]

Chicagoans are speaking out about the city’s active transportation initiatives amidst growing research that shows walking and biking to work can result in extensive health benefits.

One of the biggest improvement projects under way is the Bike 2015 Plan, which the city says is meant to “make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Chicago,” and for many residents, that begins with safety.

John Greenfield, co-founder of GridChicago.com, a blog dedicated to local transportation concerns, said that while many of the city’s initiatives have yielded positive results, there’s still room for improvement.

“Too much car traffic is one of the main obstacles to safe, pleasant conditions for walking, biking and transit use,” Greenfield said. “I’d like to see policymakers doing more to discourage driving and fund healthier modes.”

Continue reading Does the City of Chicago do enough to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe?

It’s official: Kinzie is ready to ride


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