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Protected lanes, bike shares and rapid transit, oh my!

SHARE Protected lanes, bike shares and rapid transit, oh my!
One of Chicago's protected bike lanes (Flickr/Steven Vance)

Mayor Emanuel announced a plan over the weekend for 35 more miles of protected bike lanes downtown. Three days later, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the unveiling of the city’s bike share program has been stalled by close to a year. News of the delay comes as Inspector General Joe Ferguson conducts an ethics probe into the city's contract with Alta Bike Share. Adding to scrutiny of Alta are delays caused by software in its 10,000-bike rental program in New York City. The Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein returns to Eight Forty-Eight Thursday to discuss the implications.

The big picture

"I don't think even I understood how much [Mayor Emanuel] was relying on transportation to lure companies to Chicago."

"This is going to be different than anything people in Chicago have seen before" [on the soon-to-be bike lane on Dearborn]

On bike lanes:

"I don’t think [bikers] will (ignore red lights). I’ve built these before, and they don’t because there are cars in the intersection."

"We do have 23 bike ambassadors in season, they’re out every day talking to people, explaining the rules of the road. We also meet with the Chicago Police Department and we work on different enforcement strategies. And there’s more and more police on bikes. I actually road yesterday with an officer on a bike."

On delaying the bike system:

"I can’t speak for New York at all. What I can tell you is that this is a big project. This is basically launching a new transit system in Chicago. And just to be clear, we never thought that we'd be able to launch the full system before the weather turned....Really, it's not that much of a slip. It’s saying, instead of getting 50 stations out, we’re going to wait until the spring."

"I’d rather do it really well then rush it and I think people are going to be thrilled."

On the issues with Alta Bike Share

"Any contract that’s done has all those types of protections for the tax payer. They had a problem as I understand it; it’s been resolved. They launched in Chattanooga with the new software; it’s gone very well. For us it’s not a problem."

The details of the project, which will cover "32 square miles of city" with stations half a mile from each other and start "with a cluster in the densest area."

"Just so you know, this is aimed at residents. Previously [when I was in DC] we launched the largest bike share program, still, in the country. We were designing it to be about 90 percent for residents. It ended up being 70 perceent for residents; we didn’t know how much tourists would like it."

"I would say CTA and CDOT are married at the hip at all the BRT and bus projects. They operate the service and we own and facilitate with the actual right of way on the street."

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