Downtown Chicago. Photo: Transitized/Flickr
Late at night on Friday November 30, Chicago's Department of Transportation began construction on the city's first protected two-way bike path with dedicated bike signals. They started on Dearborn Street in the heart of downtown, and not all motorists took kindly to the construction and loss of a lane for car traffic. Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn't budge after the complaints began. “I made a pledge that we were gonna do 25 miles of protected bike lanes throughout the city each year, so we could [reach] 100 miles by the time my term was done," the mayor said in the Chicago Sun Times. "And we’re on course to achieving that.”
Emanuel is adding the lanes in hopes that the city can attract more high-tech and start-up businesses. The Windy City isn't alone in making changes favorable to bike commuters. This past Saturday, the Green Lane Project released a preliminary report of protected bike lanes in the United States—they call them "green lanes." The organization said that U.S. cities had only 62 green lanes in 2011. By the end of 2012, they predict 102 green lanes will be completed in 32 U.S. cities. The Green Lane Project said more than 80 percent of the increase comes in eight cities: Austin, Texas, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City. By the end of 2013, the organization predicts there will be 200 protected bike lanes in U.S. cities.