A visitor’s guide to biking in Chicago


A view of downtown from Promontory Point, about 55th Street and the Lakefront Trail. 

Back in 2008, Momentum magazine invited me to write a roundup of the Chicago bicycle scene. The current issue of Momentum features this new guide to biking in Chicago, especially geared for visitors to the city but hopefully of interest to locals as well. Comparing the two pieces shows there have been a lot of exciting developments here in the last three years! Print space was limited so I couldn’t include every great cycling event, not-for-profit, bike shop, etc., that I would have liked to, but feel free to to comment if you think I left out anything crucial.

The city of Chicago by the numbers, courtesy of the Chicago Department of Transportation Bicycle Program:
2.7 million people
227 square miles
.5 miles of car-separated cycle tracks
123 miles of on-street bike lanes
33 miles of marked shared lanes AKA “sharrows”
50 miles of paved, off-street bike paths
12,265 on-street bike parking racks, more than any other U.S. city
60,000 people educated about safety by the city’s Bicycling Ambassadors in 2010
100 B-cycle bike share vehicles at six kiosks
300 parking spaces, showers and lockers at the Millennium Park bicycle station Continue reading A visitor’s guide to biking in Chicago

Interview with Maria Barnes from Uptown Bikes


[This piece also runs in Momentum magazine.]

Great bicycle shops often feel like community centers and Uptown Bikes definitely fits that mold. It’s located in the ethnically and economically diverse Uptown neighborhood on Chicago’s north lakefront, where Charlie Chaplain once made films at Essanay Studios and Al Capone held court at the still-popular Green Mill jazz club. The store sits on a gritty stretch of Broadway under Chicago Transit Authority elevated tracks. A lit-up cruiser bike mounted on the roof greets train commuters, and an Indonesian pedicab with a volcano painted on it sits outside the front door.

Uptown Bikes focuses on affordable repairs and bikes for practical transportation to keep all community members rolling. The small, scruffy but well-organized shop sells new Raleigh, KHS and Rocky Mountain bikes, plenty of rehabbed rides, Planet Bike accessories, Detours panniers and other useful commuting gear. Collections of old cruiser saddles and rear-wheel “pie plates” line the walls. I talked with owner Maria Barnes about the store’s history and philosophy, and her perspective on the local bike scene.

Continue reading Interview with Maria Barnes from Uptown Bikes