Chicago evolves into a bike-friendly metropolis with parklets

Those looking to move to a location that promises big, eco-friendly transformations in the coming years can look at real estate in Chicago. The city's Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced August 5 that the city will build roughly 34 miles of new protected bike lanes by the end of 2012, which is only part of the massive plan to have a nearly 650-mile network of biking infrastructure in place by the year 2020.

Emanuel said, "Improving our bicycling facilities is critical to creating the quality of life in Chicago that will attract businesses and families to the city." He added, "Our plan lays the framework for Chicago to be the most bike friendly city in the United States and will create economic opportunity and jobs in our neighborhoods and throughout the city."

The plan for a bicycle-friendly city was designed with the intent to put bicycle accommodations within a half-mile of every Chicago resident, particularly to put more bikeways where more people live and to build up the infrastructure where "ridership is high" while "establishing a strong backbone of infrastructure where ridership is currently lower."

According to the Sun-Times Media Wire, the newest protected bike lane will extend along Dearborn Street, which is in the Loop of downtown Chicago, and the new lanes will also include traffic lights meant for cyclists.

Chicago continues to transform into a green city. Emanuel announced in early June that Chicago will be participating in the Obama Administration's Better Buildings Challenge, with 14 of the city's biggest buildings joining Retrofit Chicago's Commercial Buildings Initiative. These efforts are projected to save more than $5 million a year in energy costs.

Those looking for a green city to live in can investigate homes for sale in Chicago as "parklets" begin to pop up around the city, in addition to the programs described above.

A recent report in the Chicago Tribune revealed that the city now has two "parklets," or mini parks that have been fashioned from old on-street parking spaces. The news source said that parklets have been a big success in other thriving cities in the country, especially San Francisco, which has more than 30 built to date. The parklets are typically 6 feet deep and roughly the width of two street parking spaces.

Chicago's two parklets are located in the neighborhoods of Lakeview and Andersonville, and the Tribune said these parklets represent a "solid" start for the program.