Numerous city of Atlanta officials joined Atlanta Bicycle Coalition on a recent tour of Chicago designed to provide insights into how to successfully implement bike lanes.
Chicago has risen to become one of the most attractive U.S. cities for bicyclers due to the city's construction of a network of protected bike lanes. Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to build 100 miles of new protected bike lanes during his four-year term and make Chicago "the bike-friendliest city in the country," according to PeopleForBikes.
(Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is trying to give Chicago a run for it's money though. The Capitol of the South is on track to have about 120 miles of bike paths or shared lanes by the end of 2016, potentially including a several-mile-long stretch of Peachtree Road in Buckhead.)
The Aug. 26-28 tour, sponsored and paid for by PeopleForBikes, included a five-mile bike ride using the Divvy bike share program, as well as presentations from a Chicago Alderman, business leaders, the Mayor's Office, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and Slow Roll Chicago.
Not too long ago, bike lanes were an afterthought in city of Atlanta transportation plans. But the sheer number and caliber of Atlanta representatives who went is indicative of how important bike lane plans have become to city leaders in recent years.
Trip participants included City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and four of 15 sitting Council members: C.T. Martin, Kwanza Hall, Andre Dickens and Joyce Shepherd. They were joined by Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane, Atlanta Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza and several other key city staffers, including representatives from Mayor Kasim Reed's office.
Also in attendance were board members and staffers from Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, and Georgia DOT District 7 Engineer Patrick Allen.
Atlanta also plans to hire a "chief bicycle officer" this month, who will engineer, plan and advocate for bicycle projects. The five-year position is funded via a $250,000 grant from the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.