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Chicago lands top spot in ranking of best cities for cycling

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It was announced today that Chicago has taken first place among best US cities for bicycling, moving up from #2 since Bicycling magazine’s last national ranking two years ago.

The ranking recognizes that Chicago has become a national leader for bicycling thanks to a flood of newly minted riders and bold new projects like the 606 rail trail and a rapidly growing bike sharing system.

Particularly transformative has been the effort since 2011 to build a network of low-stress bike routes in Chicago. This included construction of 23 miles of protected bike lanes and more than 80 miles of buffered (wide) bike lanes. And over the next three years the city will add 50 more miles of these types of bike lanes. 

Read about our #1 ranking in the Chicago Tribune.

Another recent triumph for Chicago is the announcement of separate biking and walking paths coming to the Chicago Lakefront Trail — a plan that Active Trans has been lobbying for several years. 

These and other developments would not have happened without a highly engaged advocacy community, an enthusiastic department of transportation and a keenly supportive mayor. Credit also goes to a vibrant local biking culture comprised of bike clubs, online communities and blogs, nonprofit organizations, racing teams and grassroots groups. 

See the write-up on Chicago and the complete rankings in Bicycling Magazine.

During its three decades of working for a bike friendly region, Active Trans has played a role in every major step toward making the city safer and more welcoming to people biking. When we called for a network of barrier-protected bike lanes and launching a bike sharing program five years ago, many thought it would never happen. Now those ideas have caught on and come to fruition.

While this is a perfect moment for everyone involved to take a bow, it’s also a good time to acknowledge the extensive work that still needs to be done. Active Trans believes that Chicagoans of all ages, abilities and backgrounds should have easy access to safe and comfortable bikes routes that take them where they need to go. Last fall, we laid out our Bikeways for All vision that identifies priority streets for protected bike lanes, neighborhood greenways and urban trails.

Another important initiative that will dramatically improve bicycling in Chicago is Vision Zero, an international movement that works to greatly reduce and ultimately eliminate serious traffic injuries and fatalities. This fall, the City of Chicago plans to release a Vision Zero action plan, which Active Trans has been calling for the city to develop for several years. The three-year Vision Zero action plan will set forth the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2026.

Photo: Active Trans Executive Director Ron Burke speaks at Monday's press conference while Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Bicycling magazine Editor-in-Chief Bill Strickland look on. Credit: Peter Wynn Thompson, Global Assignments Getty Images