Chicago DOT’s updated cycling strategy to expand bikeways and equity

Posted: 3 April 2023 | | No comments yet

The Chicago Department of Transportation’s updated cycling strategy outlines a community-driven approach to expanding the city’s bike network, with a focus on providing low-stress options and filling gaps in the network.

Chicago DOT's updated cycling strategy to expand bikeways and equity

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has announced that it has released the Chicago Cycling Strategy, outlining a community-driven approach to expanding Chicago’s bike network and creating a more equitable, safe and inviting city for cycling.

With a focus on providing low-stress options, working with community stakeholders and filling gaps in the citywide network, this strategy will make Chicago a better place for cycling and help create a more connected, healthy and sustainable city. CDOT will be designing and implementing 150 miles of bikeways in the coming years – the vast majority of which are low-stress – with several projects beginning installation in spring 2023.

“We are excited to share this latest update of our Chicago Cycling Strategy, which tells the story of where we’ve been and where we’re headed on the journey to build the best bike network of any big city in the county,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “We’ve set a vision for the next 150 miles of bikeways in our city and, more importantly, have outlined the practiced methods that will help us get there.”

The Chicago Cycling Strategy is designed to work at both the city-wide and neighbourhood scales, allows for flexible approaches to best meet the needs of residents and reflects the rapidly evolving nature of Chicago’s transportation system. The strategy establishes three pillars for everyday cycling:

  • A connected network serving all neighbourhoods and all Chicagoans
  • Focused on local trips to get people to the places that are most meaningful to them
  • Providing low-stress options to make everyday cycling safe and convenient.

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With these goals in mind, CDOT plans to implement 150 miles of new bikeways in the next few years, including important city-wide connections and local neighbourhood routes. Of the identified projects, 85% are protected bike lanes or neighbourhood greenways. Currently, half of Chicagoans live within half a mile of a protected bike lane, neighbourhood greenway, or off-street trail. Implementation of the next 150 miles will result in 70% of Chicagoans living within half a mile of a low-stress bikeway. 

“Chicago is a great city for biking, but we know for too many people biking is still not a comfortable or convenient option for getting around. Despite progress, a lot of work remains to create the kind of low-stress network of bike lanes that supports people of all ages and abilities,” said Jim Merrell, Advocacy Director at the Active Transportation Alliance. “The Chicago Cycling Strategy is an important step forward and provides a set of concrete goals and benchmarks that advocates like us can use to ensure the city follows through on its commitment to create safer streets for people on bikes.”

The Chicago Cycling Strategy builds upon CDOT’s accelerated pace of building bike infrastructure under Mayor Lightfoot through the Chicago Works Capital Improvement Plan. Since 2020, the bike network has grown by an average of 30 miles per year – double the annual rate at which the bike network had been expanding from 2011-2019. Chicago’s network of bicycle infrastructure currently includes more than 420 miles of protected bike lanes, neighbourhood greenways, off-street trails and other on-street bikeways.