Scheinfeld Lauds City’s Bike Wins at Rally, Burke Urges Crowd to Ask for More

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Scheinfeld, Reed, Slow Roll Chicago cofounder Jamal Julien, Moore, Burke. Photo: John Greenfield

The gorgeous weather – and the promise of a free breakfast – drew hundreds of cyclists to Daley Plaza this morning for the annual Bike to Work Rally. There, Chicago Department of Transportation chief Rebekah Scheinfeld delivered the traditional state of the union address on the city’s efforts to improve cycling.

“We share the common goal of making bicycling a safe, fun, and practical option to travel throughout Chicago, for commuting, running errands, or just to enjoy the ride,” Scheinfeld said. She noted that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has essentially accomplished all three of the ambitious goals for biking he set before taking office. CDOT has built 90 miles of buffered and protected bike lanes, the Divvy bike-share system has been a huge success, and the Bloomingdale Trail elevated greenway opened two weeks ago.

In keeping with Chicago’s “Windy City” nickname, Scheinfeld’s speech contained a couple of blustery half-truths about the city’s bicycle gains. She stated that all 90 miles of bike lanes are protected, when only 18.5 miles of them offer physical protection – CDOT refers to buffered lanes, which are merely paint on the road, as “buffer-protected.”

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Cyclists packed Daley Plaza for the rally. Photo: John Greenfield

She also called Divvy “the largest bike-share system in North America,” which is only true if you’re going by the number of docking stations. Chicago does hold that title, with 476 stations. However, while Divvy has 4,760 cycles, Montreal’s Bixi system has 5,200, and New York’s Citi bike has 6,000. That said, Emanuel and CDOT certainly deserve major kudos for completing these three huge cycling projects in only four years.

Scheinfeld also gave out the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council awards to several key players in the local bike scene. She recognized Oboi Reed, cofounder of Slow Roll Chicago, noting that he has created “a diverse coalition of people, organizations, and businesses, all working together to increase bicycle usage across the city regardless of race, income, or geography.” She added that Reed has been a valuable partner to CDOT.

The Trust for Public Land got a shout-out for doing yeoman’s work in managing the Bloomingdale project. Marcus Moore, owner of Yojimbo’s Garage bike shop, was recognized for his successful campaign to save the South Chicago Velodrome through crowdfunding. And police lieutenants Joe Giambrone and Joe Andruzi Jr. won awards for partnering with CDOT to do bike safety outreach, and working to get more officers on bicycles.

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This man has obviously confused “Bike to Work” with “Work by Bike.” Photo: John Greenfield

Active Transportation Alliance director Ron Burke also addressed the crowd, lauding the city’s first curb-protected bike lanes, new bike-friendly “green wave” signal timing on Wells Street (more on that later today), and Chicago’s recent recognition in Bicycling Magazine as the nation’s second-best biking city. He applauded Emanuel’s support for bike infrastructure but noted, “Our elected leaders are doing this, in large part, because people like you and Active Trans are asking them to do it and they know that’s what their constituents want.”

Burke urged the crowd not to let the city rest on its laurels. “If we keep fighting and pushing and asking for more, we’re going to get more, because we’ve turned a corner,” he promised. “We’ll get to the point where every neighborhood in Chicago has streets all over the place that are comfortable, low-stress streets for biking.”

  • Here you go Mr. Burke: Ms. Scheinfeld, as a sign that the city is serious about biking, install a bike lane down Michigan Ave. between Roosevelt and Congress for starters (enough room there), and then all the way to Oak St. (less room there, may need to reduce the perpetual parking lot from three to two lanes there). I promise we’ll all take our bikes and go shopping there. Hey, the noise reduction from fewer cars might spur a few outdoor cafes. Always good for business.

  • Jason Chappell

    How about something even better…

    So think about this…50% of bike riders are either too scared to ride or are somewhat fearful to ride…our biggest projects should focus on moving bicycles off of the streets…after seeing the 606 and how awesome it was to think about not sharing the road with cars…I had a thought as a first huge project, why don’t we utilize the center of our highway system to build an elevated path, bike lane, exercise trail, whatever you want to call it…the materials can be pre-fab, since it won’t be carrying car traffic the design can utilize things we already use for pre-fab garages etc…that is for engineers to determine…the fencing that is along the 606 would be optimum, and in theory the entire US could be connected by trail, simply using our highway system as a guide…we could have on/off ramps in the city…and have a continuous system of safe riding…

    The 606 probably spent a lot of its budget on landscaping…my project would not worry about that as an initial cost, but a thin strip of planters could be built in along the sides that can be utilized for plants/vines/natural landscaping etc…but this would keep cost down significantly…

    The 606 would be a spur off of this main artery, since it already ends near Ashland, a ramp system could be designed to connect them

    there is so much to think about with a project like this, but how amazing would it be to be zipping by, on the highway, overlooking cars, cruising into downtown, without worrying about intersections, and the view would be spectacular

    I really think this should be our focus

  • I don’t want to wait in the middle of the expressway for a Blue Line or Red Line train. I surely don’t want to bike there. It’s noisy and dirty.