Chicago to Add 50 More Miles of Better Bike Lanes by 2019

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Posted: Monday, April 11, 2016 8:32 pm

CHICAGO, Ill. -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he has set a new goal of building 50 more miles of "better bike lanes" in the next three years, including 9 miles in 2016, doubling down on the bicycle infrastructure upgrades made over the past five years. The Mayor made the announcement on 31st Street on the city’s South Side, the location of Chicago’s newest curb-protected bike lane.

"We’ve made progress installing protected bike lanes in neighborhoods across Chicago, making it easier and safer for everyone, no matter their age or ability, to get around on a bicycle," said Mayor Emanuel. "Today, we’re building on that progress and looking to the future, installing 50 miles of better bike lanes in the next three years in every corner of the city."

CDOT will install curb-protected bike lanes, such as those on 31st St., where it is practical to do so. Curb-protected bike lanes provide better separation between people riding bikes and people driving, reduce illegal parking and driving in the bike lane, and improve the aesthetics of the roadway. The new seven-foot wide, curb-protected bike lanes on 31st Street extend from Michigan to LaSalle Streets on the IIT campus and were installed as part of a resurfacing project late last year. In 2016, CDOT plans to install nine miles of better bike lanes, up to 15 miles of other bikeways and restripe up to 20 miles of the existing on-street bikeways network.

"As we focus on building better bike lanes, CDOT will continue to strengthen and improve the connectivity of Chicago’s existing bike network so that bicycling continues to grow and serve as a safe and enjoyable way to travel around our city," said CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. "Better bike lanes will include new off-street connections, upgrading existing protected bike lanes, building new neighborhood greenways and protected bike lanes, and making safety improvements at key intersections."

Scheinfeld noted preliminary data shows that protected bike lane projects, which also provide a traffic-calming effect, are making streets safer. For example, since the 55th Street barrier protected bike lane was installed in 2012, overall crashes have been reduced by 32 percent, and CDOT is finding similar safety improvements on other streets with protected bike lanes. These projects are an important way that CDOT is working to reach the city’s goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities in Chicago.

The Mayor also released a report documenting bike lane improvements in 2015 and announced the Chicago Department of Transportation has scheduled two community meetings tonight and tomorrow night on the South Side of Chicago to hear from residents on where future bike routes are most needed in their neighborhoods.

The new bike lane report, 2015 Bikeways: Year in Review, documents the improvements the city achieved on its bikeway system in 2015, including installation of 23 miles of barrier- and buffer-protected lanes, improvements to bike lanes on three bridges, and upgrades on three of the city’s Spoke Routes, which connect neighborhoods across the Chicago to the downtown area: South Chicago Avenue, Vincennes Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue.

As CDOT expands and improves the city’s bikeway system, the Department is working closely with aldermen and community groups on the south and west sides to ensure that the build out of the bikeways network continues to be equitable so that all Chicagoans can ride a bike safely and comfortably.

As part of CDOT’s South and West Side Bikeways Prioritization Process, it has asked local stakeholders for input on which routes in the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 reflect the goals and needs of these communities and which routes should be prioritized for implementation. The Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 is a citywide plan identifying 645 miles of bike routes that will make bicycling safe and comfortable for all Chicagoans, regardless of age or ability.

Since 2011, Chicago has installed 108 miles of barrier and buffer protected bicycle lanes and now has 290 miles of designated bike routes. This achievement, along with other major investments in bicycling, such as the expansion of the Divvy bike share system, and the opening of the 606/Bloomingdale Trail, now has Chicago recognized as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States.

CDOT also launched the launched the Divvy for Everyone program, under which Chicagoans with income under 300 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for a one-year membership at a cost of only $5 for the full year.

SOURCE: City of Chicago

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