I went to the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council meeting today and wanted to report back. It was really interesting! I had heard that it was a great way to find out everything that's going on to make our city more bike-friendly. And I have to say that it was really cool to sit there with representatives from the groups that are really driving bike initiatives (no pun intended): CDOT, IDOT, ActiveTrans/CBF, Chicago Police Department, the Park District, CTA, plus private citizens and people like me from The Chainlink, BikeWinter, Team in Training and Bobby's Bike Hikes.
From talking to people afterwards it sounds like past meetings may have been more informative about the breadth of bike initiatives, but in this meeting they wanted to get away from the "Show and Tell" format. So what I can report is limited, but still really interesting. A few things that were highlighted:
- The Lakefront Path Flyover - this is an AWESOME plan to create an elevated LFP downtown. It would eliminate the congestion/pinching on the LFP around Navy Pier and the Chicago River through a combination of elevated path and widening existing paths (i.e. over the Chicago river where it gets really tricky). The representative reported that a major grant just went through, and they plan to complete the Flyover by 2010. For all of us who ride the LFP and know how terrible that whole section is, this is GREAT NEWS! :)
- An update on the Bike 2015 plan. I didn't get a whole lot of news from this section of the meeting, but I did learn about how bike parking is growing around the city. Ben Gomberg reported that in 2007 the city added 450 new bike parking spots, in 2008 they added 500, and in 2009 they plan to add 600 spots! This is great news especially as the city goes to a Pay/Display parking meter system, meaning fewer meters and fewer places to park your bike.
- Police training. We saw clips from a training video to further educate police on how to keep drivers and cyclists safe on the road. The video was really clear about the rules of the road as they relate to bicycles (i.e. 3-foot passing rule), and how to enforce them. It was really great, and we all nodded our heads as we watched and gave the video a round of applause! It's great to know that the city is not only creating rules to keep cyclists safe, but it's also making sure that those rules are enforced.
At the end of the meeting they opened the floor for New Business. I made a quick introduction about The Chainlink and it was very well received. There were several Chainlinkers in the audience and it was nice to see familiar faces of support!
When we did our member survey a while back, the #1 thing you said you wanted to hear more about, is what the city is doing to improve cycling. With all these groups working so hard to improve cycling in Chicago, I hope that this forum becomes a way to communicate all their great work!
The next MBAC meeting is March 18, so watch the calendar for it. I hope you can go - it's really cool to watch the city's cycling initiatives at work!