Chicago bike count study bolsters advocacy
In late February, the Chicago Department of Transportation released the results of its first bike-count study showing areas where there are ten times as many cyclists as the citywide average of 2 percent of commuters riding bikes.
For example, on a random September day in 2009, 3,121 bicyclists - accounting for 22 percent of all traffic - were counted at 640 N. Milwaukee Ave., a residential and commercial area between Erie and Ohio streets near the Kennedy Expressway.
On a colder day in November 2009, the number of bicyclists dropped to 2,083 at the same location but still represented a 16 percent bicycle-mode share.
"Those numbers are pretty incredible," Ron Burke, executive director of the nonprofit Active Transportation Alliance told The Chicago Tribune. "It's a function of having a bike lane there, population density and a community where biking is extremely popular."
The bike counts were conducted at 26 locations citywide on weekdays in the summer and fall of 2009 using automated pneumatic tube devices designed to count bicycles but not motorized vehicles. More than 200 bicyclists were counted daily at 17 of the 26 locations studied, the newspaper reported.
CDOT spokesman Brian Steele credited the city's efforts to increase bike lanes by 8 miles annually. Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has said one of his top transportation priorities will be to increase that to 25 miles per year, according to the Tribune.
The bike count, which will be done annually, will help determine where to create new bike lanes in Chicago.
The bike count data will also help implement Chicago's Bike 2015 master plan, the goals of which are to encourage more people to bike rather than drive trips of five miles or less, and reduce the number of bicycle injuries by 50 percent.
"The plan also proposes a 500-mile bikeway network that connects within a half-mile of every Chicago resident. Today, Chicago has more than 100 miles of on-street bike lanes and more than 155 miles of signed bike routes," according to the newspaper.
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