Cycling in Chicago
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.
Early bicycles arrived in Chicago in the 1860s. By 1900, there were 54 bicycle clubs with more than 10,000 members. 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, 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, 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.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.
The Council created the Chicago Department of Transportation Bike Program, a multi-million dollar program funded primarily by Federal CMAQ funds, 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.
Bikes and transit
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. Folding bicycles, however, are allowed on CTA vehicles at all times. 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. 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.
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%. CDOT is counting the number of bicyclists on other city streets in 2008 and 2009.
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. More than half of the CTA 'L' stations have indoor or sheltered bike parking available to protect bicycles from inclement weather.
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.
- The Active Transportation Alliance, formerly known as the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, was founded in 1985 and is the largest member-supported bicycle organization in the Chicago region. ActiveTrans works heavily with the Chicago Bicycle Program.
- The Illinois Cycling Association focus on competitive cycling with links to several Chicago based racing clubs.
- The Chicago Cycling Club holds regular rides.
- The UIC College of Cycling promotes cycling at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- Several grassroots organizations also exist to promote cycling in Chicago. The Cycling Sisters work to encourage women to ride more. Break the Gridlock works to reduce auto-dependence. West Town Bikes teaches kids and adults how to maintain their own bikes. Bike Winter holds workshops and fun events to keep people biking all year round. The Pilsen/Little Village Bicycle Alliance works to increase bicycling in those neighborhoods.
- The Evanston Bike Club has rides for every skill and level on the north side of the city.
- Encyclopedia of Chicago
- September 2008 MBAC meeting minutes
- MBAC meetings happen four times a year in March, June, September and December. Meeting minutes are posted online for 2007 and 2008. The first public involvement meeting was held on June 17, 2009. See Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council - Public Meeting
- Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council - Past Meeting Minutes
- Bicycling Magazine, article text
- CTA's Bike & Ride website
- "Tips & other things you should know" section of the CTA's Bike & Ride website
- "Bike parking planned at four CTA stations"
- Brettman, Allan (2005-06-23). "Official Recruits Portland To Build Bike Center". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- Bike Parking website
- Sheltered and Indoor bike parking at CTA stations
- "Chicago Pedals Fast to Boost Reputation as Bike-Friendly City" A Fresh Squeeze
- Bike Chicago
- Bike Chicago 2009
- Chicago Department of Transportation Bicycle Program - official website for the City's Bicycle Program. Report an abandoned bike, request a bike rack, request a bike map or other publication. Download informational brochures and read information on state and local cycling laws.
- Active Transportation Alliance - Major bicycle advocacy group, formerly known as Chicagoland Bicycle Federation
- The Chain Link Social network for Chicago cyclists.
- Chicago Critical Mass Decades old massive monthly ride.
- ChicagoFitnessReport A local guide on various cycling clubs and events offered in Chicago.
- Chicago Bike Shop Database A listing of all bike shops in Chicago. Browse via list and Google Maps; leave rating and comments.
- McDonald's Cycle Center (formerly Millennium Park Bicycle Station)
- Chicago Bike Racing - information about amateur bike racing in the Chicago area
- Bike Winter Events and classes for riding in the winter
- Chicago Cycling Club
- Working Bikes Cooperative
- Chicago Bike Accident Map
- Chicago History Museum's article on early bicycling