Mayor Emanuel touts Chicago’s new title: best bike city in U.S.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel is touting Chicago’s being named as the best city for bicycling in the United States. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped his bodyguard avoid a collision with a bicycle Monday morning on The 606 trail in Logan Square.

“Watch out, Tom!” Emanuel yelled.

The mayor’s professional protector nearly became a victim of his boss’s success: Chicago was just named best bike city in the United States by Bicycling Magazine.

To celebrate the achievement, Emanuel and the magazine’s editor, Bill Strickland — shadowed by cameramen, aides and security — gathered on the trail for a few minutes. Cyclists veered around the group.

Emanuel executed a precision high five with one speeding cyclist and looked around and said, “That must be against some city rule that I just did that, right?”

A passing jogger yelled “We got the mayor out here, baby!” and implored Emanuel to join him.

“Where were you at the pool this morning?” Emanuel, an avid swimmer, shouted back to the runner.

Elation and back-patting followed at a news conference touting strides the city has made to propel it to the top of the list, including a thriving bike sharing program that serves low-income and affluent neighborhoods and a network of nearly 250 miles of bike lanes that crisscross the city.

Emanuel, a cyclist himself, did not take questions at the news conference, so it’s unclear how many miles he’s logged this year on his custom-built Parlee road bike.

He referred to the bike as his “mid-life crisis bicycle” when he bought it a few years ago. Parlee retail prices currently range from about $5,000 to $20,000.

Chicago shed its second-place status and dethroned New York on the list, which is released every other year. Following Chicago on the list: San Francisco, Portland, New York and Seattle.

Bill Strickland, the magazine’s editor, lauded the positive effects cycling has on its enthusiasts.

“They take fewer sick days, they’re healthier, they’re happier,” he said.

And perhaps most importantly, he added, bike lanes give people access to portions of the city they may not normally find themselves and bring people together, he said.

“Chicago is the city that most embodies this,” he said.

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