CITY HALL — The mayor is trumpeting a new ranking saying Chicago is the second-best bike town in the nation behind only New York City.
Bicycling Magazine released the rankings in its October issue, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel immediately touted it Friday.
"Chicago is a national leader in building new and improved cycling facilities, and we are setting a new standard for other cities to follow," he said. "This new ranking by Bicycling Magazine demonstrates that Chicago is on the right path to becoming the best cycling city in America."
Bicycling Magazine ranks the top 50 U.S. bike towns every two years, and Chicago moved up from fifth in 2012.
According to Emanuel's Press Office, the magazine article credited initiatives "including Mayor Emanuel’s plan to build 100 miles of protected bike lanes by 2015, the construction of the Navy Pier Flyover project and the success of Divvy, Chicago’s bike-share system."
Mirroring the magazine rankings, Divvy is far behind New York's Citi bike-sharing program in terms of members and trips taken, but has leapt ahead of the Twin Cities and Denver.
Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., and Boulder, Colo., followed New York and Chicago in the magazine rankings, with San Francisco, Seattle, Fort Collins, Colo., and Cambridge, Mass., rounding out the top 10.
"This honor reflects Chicago’s quick deployment of game-changing improvements like advanced bike lanes, Divvy bike share and education and enforcement to prevent doorings," said Rob Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. "The result is an average of 125,000 bike trips each day in Chicago, and that number is growing rapidly.
“Biking in Chicago, in all neighborhoods and at all times of year, is the new normal, which is a sure sign that Chicago is a more livable, vibrant place," he added. "We’re thrilled to have worked with the city administration and aldermen to help make these improvements."
Jim Merrell, Burke's colleague as campaign director at the Active Transportation Alliance, held out hopes for Chicago to take the top spot in two years. "No one has been moving as quickly as the City of Chicago" on bike issues, he said, also citing the expansion of bike lanes and bike sharing, which he called "a resounding success beyond anyone's wildest dreams." He also mentioned the city's campaign to put warning notices on taxi windows to avoid doorings.
He added, "We need to keep doing what we're doing," noting that the city has 4,00 miles of streets but only 100 planned with bike lanes.
"How can we make cycling a valid option for a broader segment of the population?" Merrell said, targeting those "on the bubble."
Merrell suggested pushing side streets as "comfortable corridors for people who ride bikes," and improving formal trail systems for "connectivity" to remove or elude stretches that are less safe.
"We're on the trajectory to get there," Merrell said, "but it's gonna take a lot more hard work."
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