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Study: Thousands Of Cyclists On City Streets

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Bicycles (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

Bicycles (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A new study shows thousands of bicyclists travel Chicago streets every weekday – in one case making up nearly 22 percent of the traffic on a September day.

The Chicago Department of Transportation conducted the first-ever bicycle count study in the summer and fall of 2009. Results were released Monday.

The study involved counting bicyclists at 26 locations in the city, using pneumatic tube counters, according to a news release.

The counts were taken for 24-hour periods on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during warmer weather. The department focused on 19 sites with dedicated bike lanes, four with marked shared lanes, one with a shared bus-bike lane, and two with no specific spaces for bikes, the release said.

By comparing the number of bikes to the total number of vehicles measured in earlier counts at the same sites, the city discovered that in many cases, the proportion of bikes on a given street was less than 2 percent.

But in some, the numbers were much higher.

At 640 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the River West neighborhood, bikes made up 21.9 percent of the total traffic in September, and 15.1 percent in November. At 1325 N. Wells St. in the Old Town neighborhood, bikes made up 7.8 percent of the traffic in September, and 5.25 percent in November. At 1616 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the Wicker Park neighborhood, bikes made up 7.7 percent of the traffic in October, the study said.

Furthermore, 17 of the 26 locations saw more than 200 bicyclists per day, with the highest number at 3,000 for 640 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Meanwhile, the city is testing new measures to keep cyclists safe on the road, according to a published report.

The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevich reported Monday that the city is testing a special bike lane called a “cycle track,” which will have a physical barrier such as a concrete planter box to keep cars away. The test site will be along Stony Island Avenue between 69th and 77th streets, the Tribune reported.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway reports

The city has is also working on a long-range “Bike 2015 Plan,” which was set up a few years ago with a goal of increasing bicycle use to the point that 5 percent of all trips under 5 miles are by bicycle.

Among the goals are to establish a “bikeway network” that will serve all city neighborhoods, make all city streets bike friendly, and provide convenient bike parking throughout the city, according to an executive summary.

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