Blair Kamin details the bike infrastructure improvements implemented by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "What flower-laden median planters were to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, protected bike lanes are to Mayor Rahm Emanuel — a highly visible piece of urban infrastructure that signals the leader's priorities and advertises his ability to get things done."
"Since Emanuel took office in 2011, Chicago has installed 52 miles of protected bike lanes, which use a variety of means — plastic pylons, striped pavement markings and non-curbside parking spaces — to separate bikes from vehicles. That brings the city's total bicycle lanes to 207 miles."
For an example of what Kamin describes as a "bike boomlet," there's the success of the bikeshare program Divvy: "Following Divvy's debut last June, its users have clocked more than 1.1 million trips and ridden more than 2.2 million miles. There have been eight reported accidents (none fatal), 15 stolen bikes (half of what officials anticipated), and surprisingly little controversy."
And for evidence of planning and urban design's role in the success of Chicago's bike infrastructure: "Good urban design has been instrumental in spurring cycling's mini-surge. The protected bike lanes tamp down the fear associated with riding a fragile, two-wheeled contraption alongside trucks and 2-ton SUVs. The sleek, modern Divvy stations lend a human scale to the city's broad, car-clogged streets."