Sunday, September 16, 2007

Is Chicago bike-friendly?

From the Chicago Tribune, 09.16.07:

As the city ponders the creation of a 1,500-bike rental fleet, a Tribune reporter and photographer pedaled out last week on the Near North Side and in the Loop with two Chicagoland Bicycle Federation employees to get a firsthand look at the joys and dangers of urban cycling.

Mayor Richard Daley, the great champion of bicycles, wants to launch a new fleet of as many as 1,500 rental bikes in Chicago. Based on programs in the French cities of Paris and Lyon, the bicycles would be available to pick up and drop off at locations around the city, available to subscribers at a minimal cost.

To tout the plan, Daley appeared last week at a photo op in Paris, pedaling down the street with hardly a crease in his suit and not a car to be seen. But the proposal raises a question: Would it be a good idea to put 1,500 more bicycles on the streets of Chicago? (Read more.)
Anxious reporter ventures out on a bike, with mixed results. The article makes much of the dangers, and makes little of the joy. This feature includes a video with commentary by the inimitable velo visionary Randy Neufeld. How could it not be good to have 1,500 more bicyclists on the city's streets?

Image: Web capture. Bike the Drive, 2006
Visit: Paris Velib, YouTube video
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips


Fritz said...

It's important to make note of the Trib reporter's perception of riding in traffic. Sure, his fear is from his total lack of experience in riding with traffic, but how do we overcome this fear?

Anonymous said...

IMO, the only way to get over traffic-anxiety is to ride in the street until you're comfortable with it. The "harrowing unpredictability" from the article gets easier to deal with over time.
While the idea of putting an extra 1500 bikes out on the road sounds noble, it would help to get subscribers to take some common-sense safety courses before they're allowed to go crazy on the streets and bike path. Between wannabe tour racers, skaters, and dogs off leashes, things are already crazy enough without adding more bikes to the frenzy.