CHICAGO (CBS) — With the weather cooperating at last, thousands of people biked to work Friday morning, as part of the annual city Bike to Work Rally.

As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, cyclists flocked to the Millennium Park bike station early Friday, before new Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein led a 10-minute ride from the park to Daley Plaza.

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A rally followed at Daley Plaza at 7:30 a.m. Among the thousands of participants was Brandon Difenderfer, who told WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel he pedals to work on a regular basis.

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“Biking from the Edgewater area and biking to Sears Tower, it’s about 9 miles,” he said.

Anne Alt, who has been an avid cyclist for years, says it takes the place of her morning beverage.

“It’s enough of an adrenalin jolt that it was, hey, who needs caffeine?” she said.

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Justine McNett pedaled from her near north side home to the Merchandise Mart.

“It’s really nice to get an extra workout in the morning, and then on your way home,” she said.

Charlie Short, who is a CDOT Bike Ambassador, says the number of cyclists in the city has increased substantially and it’s due in part to gasoline prices.

“In 2008, when the prices went really high, we saw an explosion of people riding to work,” he said.

The point of the annual event is to celebrate Chicago’s commitment to being the best big city for bicycling. Klein says it’s all about safety.

“When we make it safe for cyclists out there on the road, we also make it safer for pedestrians and for motorists,” he said.

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The city recently installed protected bike lanes on Kinzie Street between Milwaukee Avenue and Wells Street. Klein says bike sharing is also in the works.