Looking for a bike route from Chicago's North Side to the loop
July 22, 2007 6:42 AM   Subscribe

For a novice, what is a good bike route from Chicago's North Side to the loop?

I am spooked by the idea of riding a bike in Chicago, but I would like to try to commute from the North Side to the Loop. I live near the Ravenswood metra and work near Presidential Towers.
posted by bleary to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (12 answers total)
Response by poster: Maybe a path to the lake, then north from there?
posted by bleary at 6:43 AM on July 22, 2007

A related question.

Check out the Chicago bike map online, or pick one up at any decent bike shop.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:13 AM on July 22, 2007

Response by poster: Whoops. I should get my post deleted for being a duplicate.
posted by bleary at 7:49 AM on July 22, 2007

Take Bryn Mawr to the lake, and ride the bike path in the park to the Loop. Then, carefully ride/walk to the Presidential towers area.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2007

I hope you have secured parking for your bike. I hear they steal them left and right down here by pres. towers.
posted by krautland at 11:35 AM on July 22, 2007

Take the lakefront bike path in the mornings if you can -- it's a quick, beautiful ride. But plan on taking side streets home. In the evenings, the lakefront path is clogged with dogs, kids, strollers, joggers, rollberbladers, walkers and frustrated bikers seething with road rage. You're safer on Chicago's busiest street than that obstacle course.
posted by CMichaelCook at 1:32 PM on July 22, 2007

I'd disagree with that. I'd much rather get hit by any of those things you listed, rather than a Hummer.
posted by corpse at 4:24 PM on July 22, 2007

The lakefront path really is nearly impossible to ride during evening rush hour. I would recommend finding some good side streets to take on the way home. I work on Michigan Avenue, so I can't really give you good streets from Presidential Towers. You'll want to avoid Halsted though. It has a bike lane, but it is really hectic during rush hour, and you don't need the stress of dealing with that if you're new to riding the city streets.

As suggested above, try mapping your route on Bikely. And get a copy of the Chicago bike map. It's probably a good idea to test out your route on a weekend or an off-peak time to make sure it's practical.

Good luck! Biking in Chicago can cause a lot of headaches, but it's also fun, and I love getting around by bike. I live near your neighborhood—if you have any questions about biking around Ravenswood/Andersonville/Uptown, please let me know.

Ps. Be sure you wear a helmet and have both a headlight and a tail light for evening riding. Helmets look dorky, but they are so worth wearing.
posted by smich at 6:21 PM on July 22, 2007

Is there a bike route along the North Branch? That would be nice. Failing that, here's the best route for avoiding hideous traffic that I could come up with:

From Prez Towers to Ogden which you take to Chicago, brief scary ride down Chicago to Elston, up to North, longish scary ride on North to Kingsbury, which is wide and empty most times of day, to Racine, which is a little hairy, but not too bad, once you're on Racine you should be able to stick with side streets that work for you the rest of the way. I think going east and west to the Lakefront path is going to eat up an awful lot of time, and hit you with really bad traffic. You do NOT want to be on a bike in the Loop at rush hour morning or evening.
posted by nax at 6:35 PM on July 22, 2007

I am spooked by the idea of riding a bike in Chicago

Why? Chicago is one of the most bike friendly cities in the country, the roads are flat, there are miles of bike lanes, and drivers generally know to watch for bikers.

I live near the Ravenswood metra and work near Presidential Towers.

You can take any combination of Clark, Ashland, Halsted, or Racine to get to Presidential Towers.

Taking the Lakeshore path, while fun, would add probably 30 minutes to your commute. The path is nice if your start and destination are near it, but you'll spend more time on sketchy roads getting over to the path and then back from it than its worth.

Stick with main roads (side streets are not only slow due to the stops, but also more dangerous because drivers simply don't expect to see bike commuters on minor streets) and one way streets when possible. Never go against the traffic (unless you're a manic like me) and go for the bike lane (although on certain streets such as Wells the bike lanes are deadly due to double parking and doors.)

Also, you won't figure out what route is best until you ride it a few times. I recommend spending a few Sunday mornings trying different routes.

Also, buy this book. It's essential reading for Chicago bicycle commuters.
posted by wfrgms at 6:42 PM on July 22, 2007

Be careful on Elston. Sure, it has a bike lane, but there are always lots of people driving in it. Racine is indeed nice to ride on. I ride it daily until it ends at Clark, and then take Clark north.

Damen is also good for riding. It is busy, but because of the number of stop signs, traffic isn't too hectic (except the stretch between Diversey and Fullerton). It also has a bike lane.

I also disagree with wfrgms about side streets. People don't generally respect the bike lanes anyway, and if you're not comfortable with riding in heavy traffic, then side streets are the way to go. You just have to exercise caution.
posted by smich at 8:41 PM on July 22, 2007

I'd recommend getting a museum membership and spending an hour there each day after work, instead of dealing with / circumventing traffic.

If possible, that is.
posted by unmake at 9:08 PM on July 23, 2007

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