In his State of the City address Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn responded to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s threat to lure Seattle’s tech jobs to his city by creating a world-class bike lane network.
We’re going to build world-class, safe bike lanes, too, the mayor said. And we’re going to keep those jobs here.
From his speech:
That’s true for bikes too. We are updating our Bike Master Plan, with a focus on separated cycle tracks, and a network of safe neighborhood greenways. People want safer bike routes. We’ll work to give it to them and create a new culture of cycling. And the demand is there, with cycling the fastest growing mode of transportation.
In fact, Amazon will construct a separated cycle track on 7th avenue from Dexter into downtown, because that helps them attract employees.
Other cities see the economic development potential too. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, when he announced bike routes in downtown Chicago, called out Seattle, saying he wanted our bikers and our tech jobs. We’re going to work to keep them here.
For some background on the mayoral bike lane battle, we wrote a post back in December praising Chicago for seemingly slicing through red tape and building miles and miles of protected bike lanes in a very short period of time.
At the opening of the city’s newest cycle track in the Loop, Rahm Emanuel cited our post and said, “I expect not only to take all of their [Seattle and Portland's] bikers but I also want all the jobs that come with this, all the economic growth that comes with this, all the opportunities of the future that come with this.”
Unfortunately for Chicago, the Illinois DOT has stepped in and started blocking protected bike lanes from being installed. Their excuse? They want three years of studies before they continue. I suppose decades of studies from cities around the world isn’t going to cut it for them, is it? Yeesh.
Meanwhile, Mayor McGinn pointed to the Amazon-funded cycle track on 7th Ave, the Bike Master Plan update and the upcoming center city mobility plan (which will pave the way for a downtown cycle track network) as evidence that the city is making progress on innovative and safe bike facilities.
We’ll just have to wait and see who gets a functional and safe bike network finished and on the ground first…
(oh, who am I kidding? I’m not moving to Chicago)