In recent years, Chicago has prioritized making the city safer for bicyclists. The lawyers of the personal injury law firm of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that Chicago has added miles and miles of bike lanes across the city. Some of these lanes are simply painted lines designating bike lanes. In the best cases, the bike lanes are separated from motor vesicle traffic by some type of barrier.
In one study conducted by Clever, a real estate website rated cities based on how “bikeable” the city is, measuring factors like the number of bike trails, bike rentals shops and how many people were involved in fatal car crashes as a percentage of bike users. This study rated Chicago 20th out of the 50 cities rated, finding that Chicago scored favorably as to the number of bike commuters and the number of fatal crashes along with other fact.
In a more robust study conducted by the People For Bikes organization, Chicago scored much worse. This study focused primarily on whether the city had safe passage routes connecting the city in an interconnected network. In this study, out of 1616 cities ranked, Chicago ranked 1386. This study gave cities a “Network Score” based on the extent of a cities bike route network. Chicago scored poorly on every component. On bike access to parts of the city where people live, Chicago scored a 3 on a scale of 100. On accesses to jobs and school, the score was 6 on a scale of 100. On access to basic services like grocery stores, Chicago scored 4 on a scale of 100.
People who ride bicycle in Chicago know that finding safe bike routes to get where you are going can be problematic. Protected bike routes are few and riding on the street where there is not a protected bike path can be dangerous and can expose riders to serious injuries. Even if there were an extensive bike network, some would argue that people would still not use their bikes in the winter months and it is not worth the investment. Bike advocates argue that until there is an extensive bike route network, people will not use bicycles for everyday transportation. The fact remains, Chicago has a ways to go to be considered a truly bike friendly city, despite the efforts that have already been made.