“In June 2012, three aldermen and two CDOT staff traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, and other Danish cities to observe their bicycling infrastructure and bring back lessons learned to improve bicycling in Chicago.”
This is how our story time began at our Chicago Meets Copenhagen event last Thursday. We were joined by two of the members of the Chicago City Council who went on the Copenhagen trip, Ald. Harry Osterman and Ald. Ameya Pawar, and a staff member from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Scott Kubly. About 70 people parked their bikes at brand new bike corrals in Andersonville and gathered at the Swedish American Museum for the presentation portion of the night. The city officials shared what they learned from visiting one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and what ideas from Copenhagen might be imported to Chicago. We are particularly excited about one idea we discussed that was pioneered in Copenhagen and is already well on its way to Chicago: 100 miles of protected bike lanes!
Osterman also shared details and renderings of the new “bike hub” coming to his ward’s Thorndale CTA station. Pawar highlighted the new Berteau Avenue Neighborhood Greenway coming to his ward. Osterman, Pawar, and Ald. Pat Dowell, who also went on the Copenhagen trip, were all inspired by a Danish bike safety camp for children and brought that idea home to their three wards over the summer. While the bicycle butlers that Pawar got a kick out of might not be showing up on our streets any time soon, you can certainly expect other exciting initiatives to improve biking coming out of these wards and CDOT. The enthusiasm our city officials showed for our mission was contagious! You can download the slides from the presentation here (PDF).
Following the presentation, we headed down the block for social time at the Hopleaf Bar, which generously offered a free beer to everyone who came out for the event. On our way over, we got to check out some exciting projects right outside, where a new People Spot has given a small slice of the street back to people to enjoy as a mini-park. Two new in-street bike corrals also now provide very visible and convenient bike parking in Andersonville, thanks to the Hopleaf and Andersonville Development Corporation/eco-Andersonville.
We’re grateful to Bikes Belong and their Green Lane Project for funding the June Copenhagen trip and for funding our efforts to bring more protected bike lanes to Chicago. We also thank our hosts the Swedish American Museum and the Hopleaf, as well as the Andersonville Development Corporation for their invaluable support with organizing the event.