CHICAGO — I like getting around by bicycle home and away, so adding a new city is pretty exciting. Once I got checked into my hotel, I walked over to Navy Pier to rent a bike.
Bike and Roll
I rented a bicycle from the Navy Pier Bike & Roll. I may have been the only person renting a bike on either the Sunday (overcast, a bit blustery) and Thursday (a nice afternoon!). There was a sticky note on the door with the staff phone number.
The fellow working there was pleasant enough. The bike(s) was a 7-speed specialized that was for the most part, a better ride than I would have figured. It wasn’t my 27-speed Trek 7.4, but it wasn’t a Divvy (wait, isn’t that a WordPress page builder plugin?) either. The chain got loose once each ride, but chain ring contained it. It was easily corrected.
There are several bike lanes along major streets and avenues in Chicago’s core. Most east-west streets are one way and several have reatively low-stress bike lanes. Getting from Navy Pier to Goose Island for the first of two kayaking excursions was convenient enough. Chicago is thankfully, very flat.
Biking down to the Riverfront was also reasonable, though the Riverwalk may technically allow bikes, but is too crowded to actually ride regularly.
My last full day, I had time in the afternoon to bike along the Lakefront Trail (Chicago Park District). As the name implies, it’s right along Lake Michigan and adjacent to Lake Shore Drive (US 41). At times, it’s right alongside, others there is some distance.
The best part of the Lakefront Trail, other than the views, is that for much of it, close to Loop, there is a separate path for pedestrians. Additionally, there are very few at-grade crossings with streets.
Those views though – just spectacular.
I didn’t have a lot of time, so I biked from Navy Pier to the northern trailhead and then back down to Grant Park and Solider Field.
Trying to find “The Bean” (okay, Cloudgate) I got a little lost and wound up along Columbus Street trying to get back to Navy Pier before it Bike & Roll closed and to reach the Signature Room in time for sunset. That was, not low-stress. I should have gone back to the Lakefront Trail. In addition to not having bike lanes, private development cuts that part of town from the Lakefront Trail and I found myself having to get all the way to the river to get back. Not ideal, so don’t try and get too creative without consulting a map.
Overall though, I found Chicago to be pretty bike friendly place and the park district is better than I’m accustomed to in the D.C. area.