Make it count!

Yesterday morning during my commute down Lincoln Avenue in Chicago I came upon two lovely tubes across my path.
pneumatic tubes

Recently – due to lots of construction along this Lincoln Ave route – I’ve been detouring to the Lakefront Path, but I’m glad I took the route down Lincoln on Monday. I counted!

These tubes are part of a bike counting project launched by the Chicago Department of Transportation. As noted in the minutes from a meeting of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council last year:

“Automated bike count equipment allows for 24 hour counts with pneumatic tubes. Selective tubes only pick up bikes. This hard data will be very convincing.”

CDOT needs the stats as it plans to add even more marked shared lanes and bike lanes in the city.

As you can see, the tubes are similar to the the ones used for counting cars, but on a smaller scale that bicycle wheels easily roll over. So… if you see these in your path – do not veer around them. In fact, you’re encouraged to roll on over these tubes and be counted.

A box set off to the side of the road gathers the stats over a period of 24-hours.

Then last night I attended the Active Transportation Alliance‘s annual member meeting where Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life author Professor Harry Wray spoke about the important role of bicycles in forming community. He mentioned that right now 1% of trips in Chicago are by bike, and offered encouragement of the cultural shift away from they hyper-individualism that’s swept our society these past 30 years toward the more common interest of connecting our neighborhoods. “We connect to each other differently when we’re on a bike,” Wray said. His address lead perfectly into a showing of a video featuring NYC’s Summer Streets, Portland’s Sunday Parkways, San Francisco’s Sunday Streets and Chicago’s Open Streets.

After Wray’s energizing talk, Mayor Richard M. Daley took the podium.
mayor daley

Mayor Daley assured members that he’s still actively working toward the goals of Chicago’s Bike 2015 Plan. He just returned from a trip to Copenhagen where he saw first hand what great bike infrastructure can be. He urges all of us to speak with our state and national legislators and local aldermen to educate our representatives and get their support for the necessary infrastructure to make complete streets and dedicated bike lanes a reality. He also praised Chicago’s visionary planners for keeping our lakefront protected from development, since not even Copenhagen cyclists have much access to their lakefront.

In his closing statement, Mayor Daley assured us that the city will continue to expand Open Streets and he instructed everyone to “keep on biking and keep on advocating.”

We bike commuters have a voice, and our commutes do count.