An Interview With Head of Chicago Complete Streets

The city’s complete streets manager answers questions about the city’s plans for improving its bike lane network.

May 24, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Chicago Bikeshare

Page Light Studios / Shutterstock

In an interview with Courtney Kueppers of the Chicago Sun-Times, David Smith, complete streets manager at the Chicago Department of Transportation, answers questions about the city’s bike lane network. “Smith’s team at CDOT handles the bulk of the planning and design work around bike lanes, pedestrian improvements, transit projects and overall traffic safety,” Kueppers notes.

According to Smith, His department “started with a ground-up approach, identifying the places that people need to get to within the neighborhood and then from there worked with folks in the community to figure out which streets make the most sense to connect people to those places.” Answering a question about how the city is maintaining and improving existing bike infrastructure, Smith says, “We restriped existing bike lanes and things like the delineators [the flexible posts that cordon off some bike lanes] get replaced if those are damaged. We’re doing things on certain streets like ... installing [a] concrete curb to provide a bit more separation from people biking and people driving.”

Addressing concerns about the lack of east-west bike lanes in the city, Smith says “Our vision is to have a connected network across the entire city so you can go north, south, east, west. East-west there are some kind of unique barriers in the river and the expressway that provide some challenges and connectivity issues.” As far as the future goes, Smith is optimistic. “The number of low-stress routes, protected bike lanes plus neighborhood greenways is increasing dramatically. We’ve never done more than we are right now and that trend is going to continue.”

Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Chicago Sun-Times

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