When trying to decide where to bike in Chicago, you almost have too many options. Bicycling Magazine ranked Chicago as the #10 most bike-friendly city in America, and the Windy City is one of the few very large cities in the top 10, which is mostly dominated by smaller cities like Portland, Boulder and Tucson.
This is just a small sampling of the great rides available in the Windy City, and the suburbs have even more options. Whether you live here or are just visiting, here are four of the best places to bike in Chicago.
Where to bike in Chicago #1: Lakefront path
Chicago sits right on Lake Michigan, and the city was smart enough to establish a bike path running along the beaches and shorelines. The 18-mile path stretches from Hollywood Avenue in the North Side neighborhood of Edgewater through downtown and all the way to 79th Street on the city’s South Side.
The path gets a little rough as it cuts through the Navy Pier tourist area. You may have to walk your bicycle briefly as you search around to see where the trail continues. But otherwise the entire length of the trail is clear. Just stay to the right and keep an eye out for pedestrians and joggers, who share the trail.
If you’re visiting from out of town and don’t have a bike, you can find bicycle rental facilities in multiple spots along the trail.
Where to bike in Chicago #2: Damen Avenue
To get a real feel of the Windy City’s distinct neighborhoods, leave the bike trails behind and travel the bike lanes of the city streets. Damen Avenue is your best bet in this regard. The lane begins at Lake Street and proceeds north through some of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods, including the Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park and Lincoln Square.
Damen Avenue is consistently rated one of the most popular bike streets in Chicago and is a great option if you want to travel through some of the more fascinating parts of town. Stop along the way and do some shopping or dining.
Where to bike in Chicago #3: North Shore Channel Trail
At Lawrence Avenue in Ravenswood you can pick up the North Shore Channel Trail. This trail passes through parks and wooded areas and remains less crowded than the lakefront. It passes through northern towns like Lincolnwood and Skokie and offers a relaxed ride along the river.
Where to bike in Chicago #4: Milwaukee/Elston Avenues to North Branch Trail
The Milwaukee Avenue bike lane starts west of downtown and travels north through Wicker Park and Logan Square. In Logan Square, Milwaukee Ave. loses its bike markings. You can continue on the street or head over to Elston Ave. and proceed north. Both roads lead to Devon Avenue and hook up with the North Branch Trail, where you can continue biking along the water for 20 more miles.
Where to bike in Chicago: Summary
For those looking for options about where to bike in Chicago, all of these locations are good choices. If you only have time to take one route within the city limits, the Lakefront Trail is probably best, given the terrific scenery and lack of car traffic.
Where to bike in Chicago: Sources