Chicago has come closer to its goal of being one of the world's greatest cycling cities as it celebrated opening another 30 miles of dedicated bike paths.
When he came to office in 2011, the Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, ran his campaign around a promise to deliver 25 miles of bike lane a year - that's 100 miles in his first term of office.
The new lanes, which put cyclists directly between the curb and a parking lane divided from traffic by plastic barriers, were tested in a two-mile stretch pilot scheme last year.
The plans came in response to a report by Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which found there were more than 1400 reported bike accidents in 2009.
Now, a further 30 miles pf protected bike lanes have been opened, and even more impressively, alongside them, the mayor unveiled plans for Chicago's Streets For Cycling 2020 project - an ambitious citywide campaign with the following aims:
- 645 mile network of on-street bikeways
- "Everyone should have the opportunity to ride and feel safe on our City’s streets, from an eight year old just learning to ride their bike to an eighty year old who rides to the store."
- System built on Neighborhood Bike Routes, Crosstown Bike Routes and Spoke Routes.
- All Chicagoans will be within 1/2 mile of a bicycle facility.
- "The majority of the implementation through the year 2015 will befunded through a $32 million grant that was provided through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, matched by $8 million in local funds."
Amazingly, not everyone in Chicago is delighted by the plans.
John Kass, who appears to be the Jeremy Clarkson equivalent in the Tribune newspaper, wrote of the Mayor:
He's squeezing out lanes of car traffic, installing new signs, buying untold gallons of expensive paint for the new bike lanes on Dearborn Street. Sure, there's less room for cars, and less room for drivers who actually pay the freight, but more room for the little bike people to ride to and fro.
So how do they repay him?
Well, some of them ride like barbarians, ignoring traffic signals, weaving across the lanes, hopping up onto the sidewalk while narrowly missing elderly pedestrians and innocent children. They drive the wrong way on one-way streets. They're completely above the law. You've seen it. I've seen it. They don't even get tickets.
Sound familiar at all?
But others admired the Mayor's guts, especially as he installed a two-lane cycle track in one of the city's main arterial traffic routes - simply by removing an entire lane of vehicular traffic.
And many are impressed with the low cost of the project; the city spent $4 million on the 30 miles built in 2012.
Cities of the United Kingdom, take note.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.