Chicago's first protected bike lane

Cyclists ride down Kinzie Street near Jefferson Street. (E. Jason Wambsgans/ Chicago Tribune / July 25, 2011)

Chicago has a long way to go to become one of America's most bike-friendly cities, according to a new analysis of cycling data by the financial website NerdWallet.

The site ranked Chicago 18 out of 20 cities, behind Portland, Ore., which topped the list, Washington, D.C. (#2), Denver (#10) and Raleigh, N.C. (#17).

The analysis included data on each city's population of cyclists, funding for cycling infrastructure and pedestrian projects, and cycling fatalities.

Among the metrics for Chicago:

  • 1.6 percent of Chicago's population identifies as bicycling commuters. Portland tops the list with 6 percent.
  • Chicago has roughly 3.9 bicyclist fatalities for every 10,000 biking commuters per year. 
  • About $1.44 in federal transportation funds spent per citizen are allocated to bicycle and pedestrian projects in Chicago each year. 
  • Chicago has 2.6 miles of bicycle lanes, paths, and routes per square mile, compared to San Francisco, the winner in that category with 7.8 miles per square mile.

NerdWallet's data summary includes source information.

Earlier this month the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of people biking to work in Chicago has increased from just less than 6,000 in 2000 to nearly 16,000 now. In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to make the city the most bike-friendly in the country.

The city has been adding miles of bike lanes since then, toward a goal of 100 miles by 2016. But some critics of the city's plans have argued that Chicago's new bike lanes, particularly its special "buffered" lanes, don't go far enough to protect cyclists from cars.  

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.