Which streets have bike paths in Chicago

Chicago wants to build floating, covered bike path

Chicago calls itself the most bike-friendly city in the USA. And is now considering building a floating bike path along the Chicago River. The 10 km long cycle path would be expensive, but also comfortable - covered and, thanks to solar energy, free of snow and rain.

Photo: Second Shore

The cycle path consists of floating modular segments that are strung together along the river and anchored in the river bed. The pontoons are to be made of steel-reinforced concrete.

Photo: Second Shore

The cycle path is to be connected with ramps for the ascent and descent near bridges and parks.

Photo: Second Shore

Photo: Second Shore

Photo: Second Shore

Photo: Second Shore

Photo: Second Shore

Photo: Second Shore

Photo: Second Shore

Rahm Emanuel achieved something that made him become mayor of Chicago in 2011: In September of this year, the bicycle magazine “Bicycling” voted Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the USA, ahead of San Francisco, Portland and New York City. There were two main reasons for this. Emanuel, former White House chief of staff under Barack Obama, actually built around 150 km of bike path in the city as promised and introduced the "Divvy" system, in which cyclists can borrow one of 3,000 blue bikes at 300 stations at short notice.

A 10 km bike path along the Chicago River

The urban planners of the cycle paths in Chicago do not want to sit back. Because although emphasis was placed on separating a large part of the new cycle paths from traffic, in most cases cyclists and motorists have to share a road. The number of accidents, with fatal outcomes for cyclists, has risen in recent years with increasing bicycle traffic.

Now the Chicago entrepreneur James Chuck and the company he co-founded, Second Shore, which specializes in infrastructure in coastal areas, have submitted a proposal for further cycle paths that are completely car-free. Around 10 km of bike path could be built along the Chicago River.

Steel reinforced concrete pontoons

The bike path would follow the course of the river through town, between Horner Park to the north and Ping Tom Memorial Park further south. As in the city 100 years ago, the Chicago River would become a transport route. The project is called the River Ride and consists of floating modular segments that are lined up along the river and anchored in the river bed.

The production of the steel-reinforced concrete pontoons would be done by the Finnish company Marinetek, which has many years of experience in the construction of marinas, floating bridges and even a floating swimming pool.

The illuminated cycle path is free of snow and ice

River Ride would not only be a car-free cycle path along the river landscape, it would also be extremely pleasant to ride: under the glass roof, which is equipped with solar panels, the cyclists stay dry.

In addition, the solar power heats the surface of the path so that there is no icing and it also provides light.

Connected to the existing cycle network

Railings are placed along the sides so that nobody ends up in the water in the event of a fall. The individual segments are firmly anchored, promises Second Shore, but can also be quickly dismantled and attached elsewhere if necessary. In a number of places, for example near bridges and parks, there are ramps for entry and exit as well as seamless connections to existing cycle paths.

Total cost: $ 84 million

To what extent this attractive cycle path can actually be implemented is still open. So much comfort definitely comes at a price. According to Second Shore, a segment costs between 150,000 and 200,000 US dollars, per mile (1.6 km) that would be up to ten million dollars and the total costs for the project are around 84 million dollars.

James Chuck envisions funding that comes partly from private and partly from public funds. James Chuck intends to install a first pilot project on a river section in 2018, provided the necessary permits are granted.

Incidentally, the extension of the A100 urban motorway in Berlin costs more than 470 million euros for 3.2 kilometers ... Berlin's cyclists also want a covered route for themselves. Namely below the U-Bahn line 1, which runs as an elevated railway across Berlin. Nine kilometers long. The bike track idea was presented at the end of 2015 - and is still looking for friends.

The idea of ​​a floating cycle path on the Thames was already circulating in London in 2014. We reported here.


A contribution by:

  • Gudrun von Schoenebeck

    Gudrun von Schoenebeck has been a journalist in print and online media since 2001. In addition to architecture, art and design, she has especially opened up the exciting field of space travel.