An In-the-Saddle Exit Interview With Rahm as He Hits the Road
Earlier this month, Streetsblog Chicago reported that then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel planned to depart on a 1,000-mile trip around Lake Michigan on the day after left he left office to make room for mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot. (He didn’t run for reelection this year.) “I’ve never found the time [to do the trip] with all the other things that are my responsibilities, so that’s what I’m going to do,” he said at a press conference on an infrastructure project. “So I look forward to it.” Watch his full explanation here.
This morning around 6:15 a.m., Emanuel and a couple of companions road east from his home in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood down Montrose Avenue to the Lakefront Trail. Here they are arriving at the trail. It was 47 degrees and raining.
Pedaling at top speed on my cruiser bike in jeans and a peacoat, I caught up with them as they made a quick stop by the totem pole near Addison Street. I took the opportunity to ask Emanuel about his accomplishments to improve biking over the last eight years as we rode along at about 14 mph and I shot video. (Kids, don’t try this at home.)
Unfortunately, most of the audio was drowned out by wind and traffic on Lake Shore Drive, but he cited these projects (a couple of them with a little prompting from me):
- Pedestrian and bike path separation on the Lakefront Trail
- 100-plus miles of new and upgraded bikeways, including protected lanes
- Opened the Bloomingdale Trail
- Launched the Divvy bike-share system
- Opened Big Marsh bike park on the Southeast Side
Emanuel told me that these amenities helped move Chicago “to number one from number ten best biking city” in Bicycling Magazine’s rankings.