Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel takes a bike-share program cycle for a spin.
The amount of driving per person in America has held steady since 1996, and even declined among younger generations, according to a recent report by advocacy organization U.S. PIRG.
If these trends continue, they will impact transportation policy at all levels of government. In fact, they already have at the municipal level, where U.S. mayors are diversifying their cities’ portfolios of transportation options in the hopes of looking to attract and retain startups and their employees, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.
In order to make his city the most bike-friendly one in the country when he took office in 1989, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley formed a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council, developed a cycling master plan, and secured funding for his vision from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program.
He was re-elected five times. When he left office in 2011, Chicago had more than 100 miles of bike lanes, thousands of racks throughout the city, and a bike-friendly reputation.
His successor, Rahm Emanuel, continues to carry Daley’s cycling torch. His administration’s cycling plan has proposed to create a 500-mile network of bike routes by the end of this decade, “establishing a bikeway within a half-mile of every Chicago resident,” according to the plan.
In 2012, Emanuel got rid of a car lane in Chicago’s business district to make room for two-way, protected bike lanes, along with their own stoplights. Emanuel, like many other mayors, believes that more bike lanes will attract more technology startups.
To date, at least perception-wise, he might be on to something. Click to continue reading »
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