Is Chicago bike-friendly?

Is Chicago bike-friendly?

There are 76 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Sep 15, 2007, titled Is Chicago bike-friendly?. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

As the city ponders the creation of a 1,500-bike rental fleet, a Tribune reporter and photographer pedaled out last week on the Near North Side and in the Loop with two Chicagoland Bicycle Federation employees ...

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Chicago Tribune.

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Terry Deady

Montpelier, ND

#2 Sep 15, 2007
way to go Randy ! thank you to all the bicycling advocates.

See all you bikers in Evanston & Kenosha tomorrow morning for the North Shore Century !

Also: GO BEARS ! &

BE CAREFUL out there people !

Park Ridge, IL

#3 Sep 16, 2007
I believe that we should have more people riding bikes, and less people driving cars. The problem is that all bikers, not most, believe that the rules of the road do not apply to them. They feel that they can ride on sidewalks, ignore stop signs and traffic lights, ride between lanes, pull in front of stop cars, etc. I next time I see a biker stop at a stop sign it will be the first.

Mexico, Mexico

#4 Sep 16, 2007
This article was more about the reporter's lack of expertise in riding at all and less about the varying conditions for cyclists in Chicago. Not a good person for the assignment - we needed someone who was actually comfortable on a bike and capable of addressing the issues that are supposed to be the focus of this series. Not up to Tribune investigative journalism standards.

United States

#5 Sep 16, 2007
Thanks to the Mayor, Randy and Bike Federation, Chicago is a great place to bike. The bike lanes and signage that have been created since I arrived in the city in the early 90s have made a tremendous difference. Having riden in many major cities, I believe we're in the top ten, especially given our climate.
That said, biking on city streets is far from a picnic. One has to be alert, patient and aware of the risks involved.
I am, however, sick of the Tribune and the crap it routinely puts forward as news. What's the point of this story? To discourage people from riding? To say that having a rental bike program is a bad idea? The quality of your paper and it's reporting is a story in and of itself.
Eric Zylstra

Chicago, IL

#6 Sep 16, 2007
One great biking danger (the greatest?) is the apparent belief that traffic laws don't apply to bicyclists. One way street? Not for me and my bike. Stop sign/Traffic light? Not for me and my bike.

New York, NY

#7 Sep 16, 2007
I'm all for bike riders using the main roadways, and drivers should be considerate and give them room to maneuver.
However, bicyclists should also obey the rules of the road! All too often, I see them flying through red lights, and disregarding pedestrians who have right of way when the "walking man" is lit up. I have been nearly broadsided by a bicycle in this situation - he didn't even slow down when pedestrians were walking across the junction!
This behavior is the most dangerous of all - what driver can anticipate a bicyclist ignoring stop signs and red lights??

Bicyclists take note - the traffic lights, and other road rules, apply to you too!

Round Lake, IL

#8 Sep 16, 2007
Attention needs to be drawn to the dangers of simply riding a bike on the Chicago lakefront path. That is one of the most dangerous places to ride a bike in the city! People who walk, run and/or bike slowly need to learn to stay to the right, and allow faster others to pass on the left. Also, do not occupy the entire width of the path so as to force runners or cyclists from behind to swerve into oncoming traffic in the other lane. Finally, parents -- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILDREN on the path!

United States

#9 Sep 16, 2007
I found the lake front paths to be great fun, it's the hard core, yuppie bikers with the $3000 rigs and the overly tight stretch shorts that need to pass you doing 45 just to prove their manhood regardless of the fact that other people including families are using the path as well. I have 3 bikes, one for going fast, one for the woods and one to ride thru the city or along the lake.

Chicago, IL

#10 Sep 16, 2007
If the city wants to increase the amount of cyclists on the streets, than it must be responsible for informing cyclists of the rules of the road. Cyclists are only hurting themselves when they ignore traffic lights and/or stop signs that also apply to them, not just motorists. Cyclists can't be expected to be taken seriously if they don't approach cycling in a safe and serious manner. I see cyclists ignore traffic signals repeatedly and have come close to colliding with them while on foot and when driving.

Chicago, IL

#11 Sep 16, 2007
Carol wrote:
I'm all for bike riders using the main roadways, and drivers should be considerate and give them room to maneuver.
However, bicyclists should also obey the rules of the road! All too often, I see them flying through red lights, and disregarding pedestrians who have right of way when the "walking man" is lit up. I have been nearly broadsided by a bicycle in this situation - he didn't even slow down when pedestrians were walking across the junction!
This behavior is the most dangerous of all - what driver can anticipate a bicyclist ignoring stop signs and red lights??
Bicyclists take note - the traffic lights, and other road rules, apply to you too!
Carol -- thank you so much for making this point. I think it's important for cyclists to know that it's not just air-polluting automobile fanatics that get fed up with cyclists' blatant disregard for the rules of the road that is so dangerous to others on the road AND people who are also doing well for the environment and their health.

United States

#12 Sep 16, 2007
I'm glad your reporter is remembering how to ride a bike, but i agree with the other readers that this article didn't seem to have a point. Why not have a reporter ride in various commuter scenerios to find out what it is really like to ride in the city. A ride down Irving Park and Kedzie to Armitage near the lake or a ride from Lakeview to downtown etc...

Chicago, IL

#13 Sep 16, 2007
i love to ride my bike in chicago. love the lake shore.
but two HUGE problems are:
- underpass at grand/illinois over the river headed north or south. it is congested. dangerous and awful to ride on, pass or even very unsafe for all.
- we need a better flow for bikers on that stretch. it will
help the tourists be safer and the biker/residents in chicago
enjoy that stretch.
2.) it is a crime that we don't have bike lanes going to and from NAVY PIER. it should be the easiest path for tourists to ride and there is so much construction on that section it would make it easier for residents to ride along a terrible stretch.
...alderman b. reilly _ get it done!
- chicago resident 20yrs streetville neighborhood.

Lafayette, IN

#14 Sep 16, 2007
A pity how this article skirts around the main point -- drivers need to be more aware of bikes, and cyclists need to obey traffic regulations like other vehicles.
Chicago is better than the rest of the Midwest, but there are still problems here. But I think cyclists could help themselves by not running stop signs, not running red lights, not cycling the wrong one on a one way street, respecting pedestrians, not talking on cell phones, not listening to iPods, and using lights. Too often cyclists do the complete opposite of all of the above.
Lastly, there needs to be work on the lake front trail. Better manners by all users. Widening of the trail. And a proper cycle bridge over the Chicago River next to Lake Shore Drive instead of sharing the sidewalk on the FDR bridge.
Car Free and happy

Reno, NV

#15 Sep 16, 2007
People just need to drive less!! We are choking in this city. Traffic and air pollution. Next time you are thinking of driving that one mile, round trip, maybe walk it, pt it, or bike it.

Morris, IL

#16 Sep 16, 2007
Even in the first part of the video, the bikers in the story were seen running a stop sign. This is exactly the kind of thing that occasionally gets an individual on a bicycle killed or severely maimed.

Most people on bikes, with the exception of the bike messengers, don't weave in and out of traffic. A large number of the bike riders I see wear helmets. Unfortunately, they also run stop signs and traffic lights. Sometimes, they are riding on the wrong side of the road, facing traffic. There probably need to be bike lanes placed on the entire length of every major thoroughfare in the city. But they don't exist yet. It's better than it was 20 years ago, but it's far from a perfect system.

No matter how many bike lanes get put in, and regardless of what streets they are on, they will do no good if bike riders fail to obey the rules of the road, and ride with the common belief that drivers of cars and trucks will just stop for them. Drivers of motorized vehicles are NOT out there actively looking for bike riders to run over. Neither cars nor trucks nor motorcycles nor bicycles hold any ownership of the road. It is there for ALL of us to use. SAFELY.

Last month, in my neighborhood near Chinatown, a bike messenger collided with a truck, at the corner of 18th & Clark Streets. He was killed instantly. The bike rider was estimated to be going 30 MPH, southbound toward Chinatown. He was riding on the wrong side of the street, weaving in and out of traffic, so said eyewitnesses. The truck involved was slowing down for a red light, according to the police report. The bike rider miscalculated. The truck didn't hit bike rider -- he hit the truck. I drove by the scene shortly afterward. The bike rider's body was still laying in the street, covered by a sheet, with 3 police cars stopped, blocking the scene. The driver of the truck was not charged, because he didn't do anything wrong. The driver of the truck exercised proper care, and was obeying the rules of the road. It was the bike messenger that blew the red light. Unfortunately, as long as there are bike riders who fail to exercise proper caution -- as long as there are bike riders who feel that they don't have to obey the rules because their vehicles are not motorized, there will be more tragedies like this. An automobile is a 3,000 pound missile. It cannot stop on a dime. If you drive unsafely, regardless of the vehicle you are in, or on, you risk your life.


#17 Sep 16, 2007
I would like to see them have insurance like all other moving forms of tramsportation .Other wise they should stick to paths .I think they should be responsible.

Cincinnati, OH

#18 Sep 16, 2007
I'm a biking veteran of several cities, including Chicago, and while I don't have much experience in the European cities, Chicago is, by far, the best American city for bikers. That being said, I've had my fair share of close calls there. I've nearly been "doored" several times while in a bike lane, and oblivious drivers running red lights is not an unfamiliar sight. The simple fact is that Chicago is a major city, and as such will always remain a hazard for bikers. Biking is an undertaking suited to open roads and wide lanes. Unfortunately, so is driving.
Terrorized pedestrian

Chicago, IL

#19 Sep 16, 2007
I used to love to bike, and as an ardent environmentalist, I love the concept, but the incredible rudeness, discourtesy, and flagrant disregard for the laws of the road and rights of others including pedestrians I see CONSTANTLY has very much soured me on it. When I stop and count the number of cyclists actually stopping for stop signs at my corner in Edgewater, the ones who run it- even when cars are moving through- compared to those who stop, the ratio is at least 4:1! We have a bike lane on our one way street, but I constantly see people riding in the road, or the wrong way... I can't even count the number of times I've been in the middle of an intersection with my grocery cart only to have a cyclist bear down on me and swerve violently around me. I've had more such near misses with inconsiderate and law breaking cyclists than I have with cars running the intersection.
And as for signaling (as is required by law)... it just doesn't happen.
Again, I love to cycle, I love it as a mode of transport, I love the environmental benefits, but I've never lived in a place where the cyclists were so rude, inconsiderate and irresponsible as here.

Naperville, IL

#20 Sep 16, 2007
I have to call shenanigans on this article. I have been a bike commuter since March, riding from Roscoe Village to the Loop every M-F, with few exceptions. In six months (well over 1,000 miles of riding) I've had ONE door opened in front of me. Yet this author claims to have had TWO doors opened in one ride? HOGWASH.

I give Chicago an "A" when it comes to city riding. To maximize the experience you have to know what you're doing/where to go. Of course city riding is harrowing on Wells (just north and south of the river) or under Grand/Illinois/LSD. That's why I stay away from those areas to the extent possible. But that's not saying much; it's the same logic I use in not riding on highways. Stick to the wide diagonals (Clybourn, Elston, Lincoln, Clark, Milwaukee) and you'll find north side riding (where I live) is quite safe. Furthermore, if you want to get downtown from the north, take Halsted. There is a bike lane ALL the way downtown.

As a rider, I fully acknowledge that other riders (and sometimes even myself) do a poor job obeying all traffic laws. This doesn't change the fact that speeding cars who don't follow the rules are FAR more dangerous.

Chicago, IL

#21 Sep 16, 2007
"Terrorized pedestrian" raises an excellent point: the cowboy,'chosen fwe above the law' mindset of cyclists.

This topic deserves another article.

I myself have grown accustomed to running stop signs (if no traffic) and at least once have made a pedestrian uncomfortable. It's wrong.

And I've grown too accustomed accustomed to runnign a stop sign while a stopped car, waiting at the intersection already, waits fo

And I found myself agog at a messenger on Thursday morning who dashed into a red light on state street, swervering around northbound cars.(east on adams). Holy Canolli! Stupid, fearless, young, brash, or all of the above.

Mr. McCormick, please have your folks write more about this!

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