What’s a Bike Grid?

A bike grid is a network of streets designed to prioritize cyclists and pedestrians, making roads safer and more accessible for all. Our goal is to transform 10% of Chicago’s streets, or at least 450 miles, primarily focusing on residential areas, by reducing the speed limit to 10 mph. We plan to achieve this by first deploying temporary and affordable traffic-calming infrastructure like concrete planters, jersey barriers, and barrels. This will be followed by more permanent installations, such as traffic diverters, chicanes, curbs, bumpouts, and speed cushions. This approach will create a safer and more enjoyable environment for cyclists and pedestrians throughout Chicago.

In recent years, various cities worldwide have embraced the concept of bike grids, including Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Portland, Bogotá, and Seville. The results have been tremendously positive, leading to a noticeable decrease in traffic congestion (particularly in Bogotá, which ranks among the world’s highest-traffic cities).

Moreover, these bike grids have contributed to a reduction in pollution and traffic violence, making streets safer for everyone. As an added bonus, bike grids increase the diversity of modality share: citizens pick up more active forms of transit, like walking, cycling, rollerskating, and more.

Introducing the bike grid in Chicago provides an affordable solution for significantly enhancing the city’s transportation infrastructure. With a low financial barrier, it promotes safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians alike. By using existing roadways and economically viable traffic-calming measures, Chicago can revitalize its urban landscape without burdening municipal resources. The cost-effectiveness of the bike grid project leaves no excuse for postponing its implementation.

The bike grid’s cost-effectiveness lies in its smart use of infrastructure, rather than relying on enforcement, to achieve its goals. By focusing on implementing practical and affordable traffic-calming measures, such as speed humps, curb extensions, chicanes, and road narrowing, bike grid roads reduces vehicle speeds without incurring the significant expenses associated with ongoing enforcement efforts. This approach not only minimizes costs, but also creates a lasting impact on road safety.

The bike grid offers a unique advantage in that it can be swiftly deployed, ensuring a timely improvement in urban transportation. Its ease of deployment allows for equitable distribution across all neighborhoods, fostering better connectivity between various areas of the city. By focusing on rapid and fair implementation, the bike grid helps create a more cohesive urban environment where people can seamlessly travel from one location to another.

To get this we need a couple of things from our elected officials:

  1. Sponsor/vote for an ordinance that would require the CDOT commissioner to install rapid and affordable traffic calming infrastructure on at least 450mi of streets as part of a connected network of safe and slow residential streets.
  2. Require CDOT to report rollout of Bike Grid on a monthly basis.
  3. Sponsor/vote to change llinois State Vehicle Code to allow for 10mph speed limits, current minimum is 20mph.
  4. Sponsor/vote to change Chicago Municipal Code to reflect new state code.

CDOT’s Shared Streets Program is a great example of how rapid deployment and temporary infrastructure can create meaningful change. The placement of inexpensive, construction barrels, and signage instantly transformed sections of residential streets into low-stress bike and pedestrian facilities. But it can’t stop there and we certainly can’t let a vocal minority get in the way of a safer, more equitable, healthier, and better city. We will keep organizing till it happens.