Bikes chaind to a fence along a canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Getty Images photo)
John Lankford, the neighborhood bikeways campaign coordinator of the Active Trans, spoke briefly about the purpose of the night’s celebration: highlighting “the absolute historic year” of improvements to Chicago’s bicycling programs and infrastructure.
“Things don’t always move as quickly as we’d like, but we’re taking giant steps forward this year, and it’s only the beginning,” Lankford. “I think everyone in the room really has a lot to be proud of.”
Alderman Solis, the special guest of the evening, had prepared a slide presentation with photos from his recent trip to the Netherlands, which is known for being one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. Lankford explained that 40 percent of trips in Amsterdam are taken by bicycle, whereas in Chicago, work-related trips made by bicycle increased from .5 to 1.1 percent between 2000 and 2010.
Solis observed the bike systems there in order to come up with ideas that could be applied to future bike projects in Chicago.
“Being able to explore several cities in the Amsterdam, and tour them by bike, was a great way to find out what a great job the Netherlands is doing to promote bike riding, and how they’ve done it,” Solis said. The alderman said that he was most impressed by the way business owners in the Netherlands used bicycling to increase business.
“My ward and what my ward represents, to me, is definitely excited about the potential for biking here in the area, and how it could stimulate the economy,” Solis added.
SRAM Cycling Fund director and Active Trans board member Randy Neufeld, who also went on the trip with Alderman Solis, shared his experiences on the trip as well.
“We probably have as almost as many bikes per capita in the United States as they do in the Netherlands, they are just in the basement instead of the street,” joked Neufeld.