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Mayor McGinn to Rahm Emanuel: Seattle will keep its bikers, thank you

rahm_will_take_your_bikersMayor-State-of-City-01sm-rahmIn 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:


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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)


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19 responses to “Mayor McGinn to Rahm Emanuel: Seattle will keep its bikers, thank you”

  1. vincent

    The most telling thing about this tit for tat, is Rahm is surrounded by bicycles, and McGinn has only soundbites.

  2. Jeff

    Last weekend I visited Vancouver, BC and every time I go I see more and more very nice bike installations and cycle tracks, Danish-style. I see “regular” folks (not 20-30 year old men suited up in gear) using these approachable means to get around – even in the chilly winter weather. Let’s build safe facilities and go from there!

    1. A

      As a “regular folk” on a bike daily I experienced something similar visiting Portland last weekend, riding a bike is not considered an exceptional feat. Most people I know here want to ride more but view cycling in a lot of Seattle in a similar light as technical mountain climbing; seems like fun but too much of a dangerous challenge to pursue seriously.

  3. scaler911

    Good luck with that Rahm. Chicago is a fine city, but it’ll take more than proper bike infrastructure to drag us (Portlanders, and Seattleites) from the PNW. Most notably, we can ride year ’round here. Plowing thru the snow and the brutal cold (I went to boot camp in Great Lakes) in the winter, lack of a ocean and lack of mountains is going to be an issue too.

  4. Joseph

    Um, no. Amazon is not funding the cycle track; it’s funding the study, and the portion of the track through their campus. At least that’s what your earlier post said. :=)

    The city is supposed to fund the rest.

  5. Joseph

    I lived in Chicago for 15 years a long time ago (1968-1983) and never owned a car. Sure, I was in school most of that time (undergrad and graduate school), but I was able to bike or take transit when I worked downtown and in the north side. (And sure, it was bitter cold in the winter, but at least it was clear and sunny most of the time.)

    Thirty years ago Chicago had already gotten it. We’re still trying to figure it all out.

  6. LWC

    I’ll believe it when there is truly safe bicycling infrastructure downtown. Until then, all this “bike friendliness” stuff will remain nothing but empty talk.

  7. Olivia

    Of course I’m thrilled that the Midwest is picking up the biking pace, even if Emanuel sounds like he has a Seattlite fetish (but don’t we all?). I sincerely hope that Chicago makes its progress and St. Louis can be next in line. We need good examples of cycling-friendly infrastructure over here in the bread (/subsidized corn and soybean) basket!

  8. smug tech worker

    I like how Rahm is trying to steal Seattle’s tech workers and not Boston or San Francisco’s. In total number of metro area bike commuters in the country, they’re numbers 2 and 3 (behind LA, of all places). Seattle is not even close to having half as many cyclists as Boston or SF metros.

    (btw – not many people outside of the Boston area know just how huge cycling is there – I think because the rest of the country only pays attention to mode share in the city proper).

  9. […] In a dystopian future, will cities spar over who gets the cyclists? Oh, wait, Chicago and Seattle are already doing that. […]

  10. […] in February, Mayor McGinn made a point of acknowledging the city’s shift in thinking: “We are updating our Bike Master Plan, with a focus on separated cycle tracks, and a network […]

  11. […] latest person to make this discovery at the local level. We’ve previously heard it from the mayors of Seattle and Chicago, CEOs in Portland and a commercial office building manager in […]

  12. […] question for Portland and Charlotte, then: with cities across the country catching on to the factors driving young folks’ migration patterns, how much longer will this economic edge […]

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