Did You Know?

A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Block by block — Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign rolls along in 2013

Active Trans’ Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign continues to pedal full speed toward our goal of building a world-class network of bike infrastructure in Chicago./

To say 2013 has been a big year for bikes in Chicago is an understatement. It’s been huge. In addition to adding more miles of protected and buffered bike lanes to our streets, this summer has seen the rapid expansion of on-street bike parking and the flourishing of Chicago’s bike-sharing program, Divvy (including a month-long unicorn chase!).

But with so much going on across the city, it’s easy to lose track of the progress we’ve been making together. That’s why we thought it would be a good time to celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far in 2013, preview what’s coming down the pike, and show how you can get active in our campaign to make Chicago the best city for biking in the country.

First, a little background…

In 2012, the city released a new blueprint for a bike-friendly Chicago. The result of an extensive community input process — that included the participation of many Active Trans members and supporters — the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 has guided the development of our network of bike lanes.

A supportive city administration with a clear vision for promoting biking is a wonderful thing, but that alone isn’t enough to realize the vision of a world-class bike network in Chicago. Because our 50 alderman have the final say on what happens on the streets in their wards, building a well-connected network means we have to organize in each and every ward to ensure members of the city council know their constituents support safer and better conditions for biking.

And that’s just what we’ve been doing in 2013. The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign has been working block-by-block mobilizing grassroots support and connecting people with their elected officials to call for bringing positive changes to our streets.

Here are a few highlights of what we’ve accomplish together this summer:

Milwaukee Ave. spoke route

Hands down the highest profile project this year was on Milwaukee Ave., the busiest street for biking in Chicago. During peak times, more than 500 people an hour bike down Milwaukee, making up about 40 percent of total traffic on the street. In June, the city unveiled a new spoke route on Milwaukee Ave., which combines protected and buffered bike lanes, improvements to traffic signals and enhanced road markings that together have drastically improved the street for all users.

The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign gathered nearly 3,000 signatures on a petition supporting the project and turned out dozens of supporters to a public meeting hosted by 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. Not to be outdone by residents, several Bike Friendly Business champions also worked to get two supportive letters published in the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

Read more about the project here. 

Broadway crosstown bike route

At the end of July, city officials shared plans for bringing improvements to another busy street: Broadway in Uptown. The proposed plans include a road diet and new protected and buffered bike lanes for this key artery between Montrose Ave. and Foster Ave.

The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign partnered with neighborhood leaders from Bike Uptown to canvass businesses along the corridor and turn out dozens of supporters to 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman’s public meeting on the project.

You can read more about this project, slated to be complete in 2013, at Streetsblog Chicago

Vincennes crosstown bike route

With wide lanes and low traffic, Vincennes Ave. from 85th to 103rd, is notorious for speeding motorists, which makes the street dangerous for people riding bikes as well as pedestrians accessing churches and schools along the corridor. /

Ahead of the installation of bike and pedestrian improvements, the Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign joined Friends of the Major Taylor Trail to host a community workshop to compile input from residents on trouble spots and needed improvements.

Read a full report on what they had to say here.

Clark St. spoke route

According to the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, Clark St. in Lincoln Park from North Ave. to Armitage is slated for safety improvements in 2014 as part of the Clark St. spoke route. Residents and businesses have shared that the current design, with four wide travel lanes and no bike infrastructure, encourages motorists to travel at a high speed, making the street dangerous for people riding bikes or pedestrians trying to reach the park.

The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign partnered with 43rd Ward Ald. Michelle Smith and the local group BikeWalk Lincoln Park to hold a streetside community workshop to review the existing conditions and identify needed improvements.

Here’s a good overview of some of the recommendations the group came up with. 

Let’s keep things rolling…

These are just a few examples of how grassroots activists are getting things done here in Chicago. Thank you to each and every one of you that have helped out along the way. Stay tuned for more!

Here’s how you can do more: