Green Lane Project officially kicks off in Chicago
By: Martha Roskowski
Bikes Belong’s Green Lane Project is officially kicking off tomorrow, May 31, in Chicago. This initiative will work with Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to support the cities? development of world-class bicycling facility networks over the next two years. Top transportation officials from each city, along with Federal Highway Administration leader Victor Mendez, will introduce the program and announce initial plans at the kickoff event.
We are seeing an explosion of interest in making bicycling stress-free on busy city streets,? said Martha Roskowski, Green Lane Project director. The selected cities have ambitious goals and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected officials and communities. They are poised to get projects on the ground quickly and will serve as excellent examples for other interested cities.
Green lanes are dedicated, inviting spaces for people on bikes in the roadway, protected by curbs, planters, posts or parked cars. The goal of the Green Lane Project is to support the selected cities in their efforts to develop and install these kinds of facilities. Recent studies have demonstrated their benefits nationwide. In Washington, D.C., bicycle volume tripled after protected lanes were installed. In Portland, Ore., more than 70 percent of survey respondents said bicycling is easier and safer with these dedicated lanes, while motorists said the facilities did not make driving any slower or less convenient.
Green lanes benefit everyone who uses city streets, not just people on bicycles, continued Roskowski. ?With these facilities, people in cars and on foot know where to expect bicycles. More people on bikes eases congestion. When people ride bikes, they are healthier, and they save money.
Green Lane Project plan highlights for the six focus cities:
- Austin, Texas, celebrated the opening of a green lane in April, and has several more projects under development. The city is tackling major connections in a revitalizing downtown area. The presence of the state capitol, a major university and a thriving music scene make it a diverse and dynamic city that sees bicycling as a way to attract top-tier businesses and ease congestion.
- Chicago is leading the way with a bold commitment by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to build 100 miles of new green lanes during his four-year term. These projects will significantly transform city streets and provide a model for rapid implementation. Work on several new projects began in May and will continue through the summer.
- Memphis, Tenn., installed 35 miles of bike lanes in the last two years and is planning two new significant green lane projects in the upcoming year, connecting a popular rail-trail with the city’s central park and helping to revitalize businesses on the corridor. Mayor A.C. Wharton catalyzed this turnaround after Memphis was named one of the worst cities for riding by Bicycling magazine in 2008.
- Portland, Ore., leads the nation in the development of neighborhood greenways and other innovative street designs. Its attention to detail for bicycle operations at intersections and other transition points is unmatched in the U.S.
- San Francisco is quickly catching up after a three-year injunction stalled most bicycle-related improvements from 2007-2010. A new green lane in Golden Gate Park was recently completed and plans are underway for green lanes in a number of other corridors.
- Washington, D.C., is a national showcase, with a steady stream of influential visitors. The city is now planning new projects near Union Station and in other areas. The red bikes of the Capital Bikeshare system are being used at least 6,000 times a day, building significant support for better places to ride.
The Project will provide updates on the progress in the six cities, best practices as they are developed, and links to other resources on this website. Other interested cities are invited to use the website to share their plans and progress on building green lanes.
Advisors to the Green Lane Project include the New York City Department of Transportation, the League of American Bicyclists and the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Funding partners include the SRAM Cycling Fund, Volkswagen of America, Inc, Interbike, Taiwan Bicycle Exporters Association and the Bikes Belong Coalition.