Rahm Emanuel: What’s Good for Cyclists Is Good for Chicago

Given the rapid innovations on city streets over the last four years, New York cyclists and pedestrians don’t yet have much cause to be envious of their counterparts in Chicago. Still, it’s hard not to feel a little green watching Mayor Rahm Emanuel express such unqualified support for an ambitious bike lane plan while elucidating the benefits of cycling as transportation. Less than three weeks after being sworn in, Emanuel joined his transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, for the groundbreaking of the city’s first protected bike lane. What’s good for cyclists, says Emanuel in this news clip, is good for the city.

More than that, Emanuel has thrown down the gauntlet to other big-city leaders. By declaring his intent to make Chicago the most bike-friendly city in the nation, and walking the walk from the outset, he has effectively placed the onus on his peers to keep up. For an idea of how high Emanuel has set the bar, he’s talking 25 miles of protected bike lanes per year — more than New York City has installed to date.

While New York, Boston, Philadelphia, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles have all made strides recently, none that we can think of have been accompanied by this level of high-visibility commitment from their respective mayors. Emanuel campaigned on transportation reforms and is enacting livable streets policy right away, without apology. As if making a city’s streets safer and more accessible is the most obvious thing in the world.

Go Rahm go.

  • Yay. I’m excited about moving there from NYC. There are some downsides (one of them is that Chicago really NEEDS bikes because the CTA is so awful), but overall I feel like Chicago is more supportive and affordable for young people than NYC. 

  • Am i the only one who had to first watch a car commercial  before the video played. ugh. That aside, great for chi-town! I hope it encourages every city to be bigger & bolder. Wish Rahm was a little more passionate in the clip above, like his Transpo Commish is… but also… I’m fine if he lets his actions speak instead.

  • Am i the only one who had to first watch a car commercial  before the video played. ugh. That aside, great for chi-town! I hope it encourages every city to be bigger & bolder. Wish Rahm was a little more passionate in the clip above, like his Transpo Commish is… but also… I’m fine if he lets his actions speak instead.

  • Joe

    I’m a former NYer current Chicagoan. CTA’s really not bad. The trains are more frequent than NY off-hours and about the same during the rush and the elevated affords really nice views of the city. The entire system (train and buses) is tracked real-time, so you can get estimated arrival times for everything on your phone. Also, the buses are a million zillion times better. It took me about a year after moving to accept that buses can actually get me places faster than walking, but it’s true. And I’d say it’s a friendlier city for bicyclists in terms of attitudes already. 

  • Gabeluvr

    All I know is that Mr. Gabe Klein is one foxy dude. 

  • Go Rahm!   Maybe Bloomy will rice to the challenge

  • Ed

    I’m not sure this is good.  If a prominent Democrat is for it, then Republicans will be against it.

  • This is great. Not merely because it’s great for Chicagoans, but because it’s now clear that this is a cause with with forward-thinking mayors can bring prestige to their community. If cities big and mid-sized really compete to be the bike-friendliest, we can make some real progress. 

  • Eric McClure

    I think what Emanuel actually said was “what’s good for #&%@ing cyclists, is good for the #&%¢ing city!”

    What say you, de Blasio, Quinn and Liu?

  • Don’t worry. Republicans (minus LaHood) already against it.

  • Adam G.

    Simply put this is amazing. It’ll make finding excuses to implement these no brainer changes harder for other mayors to ignore. Congratulations to Mr. Emanuel for doing what every mayor should.

  • Anonymous

    Rahm just got sexier!

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