Navigating the urban grid
Chicago is known for its architecture, museums, miles of stunning lakefront, ethnic neighborhoods, deep dish pizza and, of course, extreme winters. But in recent years, the “City of Big Shoulders” has garnered a reputation for being one of the best and most progressive cycling communities in the U.S.
Much like its inhabitants, biking in Chicago keeps you grounded. It lets you see, touch, smell and taste what makes this city great. From the far south to the far north, the network of over 70 communities that make up Chicago is interconnected by more than pavement; they are part of the story that transformed the lakefront, changed the direction of the Chicago River, and pulled this city out of the prairie and into prominence. Our industrial past, cultural diversity, varied scenery and access to Lake Michigan make cycling in Chicago unique among U.S. locations.
Nearly anywhere you go in Chicago you’ll find cyclists of all kinds. Young and old, hip or hardcore, commuters, environmentalists and tourists alike are navigating the urban grid together. In a city that offers a plethora of public transportation options, nothing quite compares to experiencing the energy and beauty of Chicago from the seat of a bicycle.
Summertime in Chicago is amazing. A lazy ride along the Lakeshore Drive takes you to the fun at Navy Pier, the beaches of Lake Michigan, the beauty of Millennium Park and the culture of the Art Institute. You are never far from one of many tree-lined neighborhood summer block parties that celebrate our diverse ethnic cultures. We take full advantage of this, knowing that the cold weather is looming.
Winter in Chicago is a full-contact sport with Mother Nature. Chicago cyclists are seasonal warriors, wearing layers of armor and fully committed to their mode of transportation. The Windy City posts below-freezing temperatures with wind chills that will rip your face off, and the streets become slippery, snow-covered ice rinks. Biking through the winter in Chicago is legit.
The Chicagoland metro area is approximately 10 million large. Cyclists, cars, trucks, buses, trains, taxis and pedestrians all co-exist in a limited amount of wheel-friendly space. The streets are loaded with bridges, train tracks, construction sites and potholes big enough to get lost in. You’ve got to stay on your toes at all times.
Thankfully, Chicago has a proud history that celebrates grim determination. Not even the fire of 1871 could stop Chicagoans. We built the first steel-frame skyscraper. We absolutely refuse to put ketchup on a hot dog. We grill in 30-degree weather, and bike in it, too. That same level-headed determination is steadily making Chicago a city for bicycling.
The city has made big commitments to make Chicago a safer place to ride. The number of protected bike lanes is growing significantly each year, and clearly marked bike lanes exist on many busy commuter corridors. Programs like Divvy, one of the nation’s most-used public bike systems, have offered heightened road-sharing awareness, making the relationship between cyclists and motorists safer and more symbiotic than we could have anticipated a few years ago.
Our cycling community is vibrant, diverse, determined and always connected to our history through the streets we ride every day.