Saturday, October 1, 2011

Chicago to Dramatically Expand Bike-Sharing Program

Chicago is once again making plans to encourage the use of bicycles throughout the city. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the City of Chicago plans to dramatically expand the city’s bicycle-sharing rental program by next summer. The plan calls for providing 3,000 bikes for short-term use between 300 pick-up and drop-off stations, officials said. The program also calls for additional expansion in 2013 and 2014.

Chicago first launched a bike-sharing program in 2010. The current program, B-Cycle, is operated privately by Bike & Roll, a local bike rental and touring company. The program is limited to 100 bikes at six pick-up and drop-up stations at popular tourist destinations. According to, B-Cycle stations are located at Buckingham Fountain, the museum campus near the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, the Time-Life Building on Ohio Street, and two stations on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus.

The Sun-Times reports, “the new program would be geared more toward everyday Chicagoans interested in making short trips by renting a bike at one location and dropping it off at another. Bike kiosks would likely be located at CTA and commuter rail stations and no more than a half-mile apart.”

New Transportation Commissioner Gabe Kline told the Sun-Times, “we view this as a new transit system that’s self-powered. The idea is to have so many stations, it’s easy to get from one point to another quickly. It fills in the gap in the existing transit system and allows people to pick up a bike at one location and drop it off at their destination.” Kline has experience starting large scale successful bicycle-sharing programs. He told the Sun-Times the plan he stated in Washington D.C. doubled expectations in its first year. “It’ll become the best way for many people to get to work or make the last-quarter mile or one-mile connection to work,” he said.

Attorney Mike Keating of Keating Law Offices in Chicago, a law firm that represents injured cyclists and their families stated, "The concern is always that while more bicycles are overall very positive, motorists may not be prepared for a sudden surge in bicyclists, especially in downtown areas where tourists unfamiliar with a congested urban area may choose to ride. Bicyclists have the same right to the roadway as motorists, but are at an obvious safety disadvantage." However, these safety concerns could be partially mitigated if Mayor Emanuel follows through on his promise to deliver 100 miles of “protected bike lanes” in the City.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free. This blog post was written with the assistance of Joseph T. Vietri, a third-year law student at DePaul University's College of Law.