Cycling in Chicago

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Since the advent of the bicycle in the 1860s, Chicago has been distinguished as one of the premier cycling locations in the United States, with such public cycling destinations as Grant Park, Burnham Park and the Chicago Park District's Lakefront Trail.

History[edit]

Early bicycles arrived in Chicago in the 1860s. By 1900, there were 54 bicycle clubs with more than 10,000 members.[1] Bicycle advocacy has been present in Chicago since the early days of the city. Carter H. Harrison II, a mayoral candidate, was an advocate for cyclists. One of his campaign posters presented him as "Not the Champion Cyclist; But the Cyclists' Champion." Harrison won the mayoral election and attributed his victory to strong support from cyclists,[citation needed] and rewarded his supporters with a bike path along Sheridan Road from Edgewater to Evanston. By the late 1890s, Chicago was the "bicycle-building capital of America". According to the 1898 Chicago Bicycle Directory, approximately two-thirds of the country's bicycles and accessories were manufactured within 150 miles (240 km) of the city.

Mayor Richard J. Daley riding a Schwinn tandem with cycling advocate Keith Kingbay at the opening celebration of Clark Street bike lane.

Mayor Richard J. Daley, like Harrison, was a supporter of bicycling. When he was inaugurated, the city had a limited number of bike paths. By the 1970s, Daley's administration had built a large network of lakefront bike paths, bicycle lanes on the road, a 34-mile (55 km) bicycle route and rush-hour bicycle lanes on Clark Street and Dearborn Street.

In the 2000s, Chicago roads and trails saw an increase in the number of bicyclists.[2]This can, in part, be attributed to mayor Richard M. Daley. Daley said, "My goal is to make the City of Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the U.S." Daley created a Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) in order to encourage bicycling in the city.[3]

The Council created the Chicago Department of Transportation Bike Program, a multi-million dollar program funded primarily by Federal CMAQ funds,[4] in order to achieve this end. The program, whose efforts are guided by the Bike 2015 Plan, approved in June 2006, has created over 100 miles (160 km) of new bike lanes, installed 10,000 bicycle racks, and installed 165 miles (266 km) of signed bike routes in 2006. The city has also sponsored events to promote biking, such as Bike The Drive, Bike to Work Rally, the L.A.T.E. Ride, the Commuter Challenge, and many other events. In November 2001, Bicycling magazine honored Chicago as the “Best Cycling City in the United States” of cities with more than one million residents.[5]

Bikes and transit[edit]

All Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) & Pace buses are equipped with bicycle racks which accommodate two bicycles each, available for use at all times. Bicycles are allowed to board any Chicago Transit Authority train ("the 'L'"), except during the hours of 7-9a and 4-6p on weekdays, up to two bikes per car. Bicycles are not allowed on trains on July 3 or 4.[6] Folding bicycles, however, are allowed on CTA vehicles at all times.[7] Metra, the commuter rail system, allows bicycles to ride on reverse commute, non-rush hour, and weekend Metra trains for no extra cost. Metra timetables list certain blackout dates and specify which trips disallow bicycles; folding bicycles are allowed at all times.[8] This policy began in 2005.

Most CTA rail stations have indoor, outdoor or outdoor sheltered bicycle parking. The Chicago Bicycle Program's Bike Parking website displays all stations and denotes the quantity and type of bicycle parking available. Most Metra stations have bicycle parking available.

Starting in 2008, high capacity bike parking was constructed at four CTA rail stations: Damen (CTA Blue Line), Sox-35th (CTA), Jefferson Park (Metra-CTA), and Midway (CTA).[9]

Bike Share[edit]

Divvy, a Bicycle sharing system, is set to launch Summer 2013 with 4,000 bikes at 400 stations throughout the city.[10]

Facilities[edit]

Chicago's McDonald's Cycle Center has been described as "the ultimate in bicycle stations."[11]

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation Bicycle Program, Chicago has just over 111 miles (179 km) of dedicated bike lanes covering much of the city. There are also several miles of roads signed and marked with shared lane markings (consisting of bike and chevron symbols, or bike symbols and arrows). As of August 2008, there are approximately 27 miles (43 km) of these types of shared bike lanes throughout the city. The Milwaukee Avenue bike lane and marked shared lane is one of the most popular on-street bikeways in the city: between 2003 and 2008, the number of bicyclists riding on the street has increased 377%.[2] CDOT is counting the number of bicyclists on other city streets in 2008 and 2009.[2]

The City of Chicago publishes a Bike Lane Design Guide. The Bicycle Parking Program within the CDOT Bicycle Program lists almost 8,000 bike racks at over 4,000 locations in the city limits.[12] More than half of the CTA 'L' stations have indoor or sheltered bike parking available to protect bicycles from inclement weather.[13]

The McDonald's Cycle Center in Millennium Park was opened on July 16, 2004 just east of the Pritzker Pavilion. The building has indoor parking for bicycles, bicycle repair, showers, rental, lockers, and a cafe.[14]

The Chicago Park District maintains an 18-mile multi-use path along Lake Michigan called the Lakefront Trail.

Organizations[edit]

Events[edit]

Critical Mass gathering in Daley Plaza

The monthly Critical Mass ride draws thousands of participants in the summer months. Participants gather at Daley Plaza on the last Friday of every month at 5:30 PM for a free ride.

The LATE Ride, sponsored by the Friends of the Parks, is an annual overnight tour of Chicago neighborhoods.

Active Transportation Alliance hosts its annual Bike The Drive and Boulevard Lakefront Tour.

Each summer, the Mayor's Office of Special Events (MOSE) hosts Bike Chicago,[15] a series of bike friendly events around the city. MOSE and CDOT jointly operate the online calendar of events.[16]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Maps[edit]