Chicago likes bikes — and it’s about to prove it in a big way [Grist]

Look over your shoulder, Portland, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. Chicago is about to roll out plans to lay down 645 miles of bike lanes by 2020. If you’re not careful, the Windy City is going to pedal off with the title of Most Bikeable City in the U.S.
Today, the city’s bike-loving mayor, Rahm Emanuel, will unveil theStreets for Cycling Plan 2020, an aggressive bicycling blueprint that was a year in the making. With 30 miles of protected bike lanes already completed and another 70 promised before the end of Emanuel’s first term in 2015, the city’s new cycling infrastructure will weave through every neighborhood, assuring a path within a half-mile of every Chicagoan’s home.
The unveiling takes place on Chicago’s once taxi-, auto-, and bus-infested Dearborn Street. The city spawned a wave of envy among national bike bloggers this month when it removed a motor vehicle lane from the downtown artery, replacing it with a two-way protected cycling lane complete with bike traffic signals.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and bike czar Gabe Klein
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and bike czar Gabe Klein.
Michael Amsden, a project manager for the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Bike Program says swiping a lane from drivers took “lots of political know-how,” adding that “no other city has cut through dense traffic” in that manner. While other cities have been putting in bike infrastructure for years, what sets Chicago apart, Amsden says, is the sheer super-speed at which the city has laid down protected bike lanes, going from “zero to second-most in the country in just 18 months.” City officials hint that converting car lanes into bike lanes is the way of Chicago’s future...
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