Tour de Grid Will Showcase Need for Safe Streets Network

09/09/2023 10:00am

Pedestrian & Traffic Safety Chair Ald. LaSpata will address participants

WICKER PARK – Chicagoans can experience a safe streets network first-hand on September 9th during a bike tour with the City Council Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Chair Daniel LaSpata. The nine-mile tour through six wards and five neighborhoods will utilize streets where people-first infrastructure already exists as well as other low-stress, low-traffic streets that could be included in Chicago’s bike grid. 

“A network of safe streets will allow our residents to comfortably travel though our city on a variety of transportation modes, be it on foot, two wheels, or in a car,” said LaSpata. “We know that this is one of the keys to vibrant, safe, and equitable communities. Now is the time to build out the bike grid.”

Alder Jesse Fuentes of the 26th Ward has also voiced their support for a network of safe streets, “”I am invested in advocating and fighting for safe streets in our ward that connect to our neighboring communities and the rest of the city. Tour de Grid is a great way for people to get a glimpse of the goal we’re working toward.”

The Tour de Grid ride, organized by Chicago, Bike Grid Now! will showcase the possibilities of connected bike infrastructure that is low-stress (for riding) and low-cost (for implementation). Tour de Grid follows the popular Taste of the Grid ride held in August which attracted nearly 100 participants including Alderpersons Andre Vasquez (former vice chair of the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety) and Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.That exploration of a safe streets grid network followed an 8 mile loop through Wards 40, 47, 48, 49, and 50 and included a stop at a farmers market.   

A series of Tour de Grid rides are planned for this fall to proactively engage communities and their alderpersons, especially those who did not endorse the Bike Grid Now platform during the 2023 municipal elections. 

“Many alders just aren’t willing to spend their political capital to allow CDOT to build concrete protected bike lanes on arterial streets,” says Nate Hutcheson, an organizer with Chicago, Bike Grid Now! “So, we need a strategy that reflects this reality and gives alders and their communities another option for connecting to a city-wide network of safe streets.” 

A significant portion of Chicago Alderpersons and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson have endorsed the development of a city-wide bike grid which would set aside 10 percent of city streets, or 450 miles, for low-speed and low-stress streets that prioritize walking and rolling. Safe streets would be outfitted with traffic calming measures like curb bump-outs, chicanes, and traffic filters similar to what CDOT implemented during the pandemic. 

To further highlight how residential streets can create low-stress, low-cost connectivity, Chicago Bike Grid Now is running “bike buses” or group rides from other neighborhoods to Tour de Grid, including Austin, Lincoln Square, Bridgeport, and Hyde Park. Bike buses will depart from their respective neighborhoods around 9:00 am to arrive at Wicker (Charles Joel) Park at Damen and Schiller by the 10:00am starting point or converge with the main group en route. The ride will end back at Wicker Park a little after 11:00 and will wrap up with comments by Alderperson La Spata.

Austin – LaFollette Park – 9:30am

Lincoln Square – Winnemac Park – 9:30am

Bridgeport – Sintic Park – 9:30am

Hyde Park – Kenwood Park – 9:00am

Tour – Wicker Park – 10:15am

Participants are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the end of the ride.