Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bike 21 in Chicago

Bikes. Bikes. Bikes. Old bikes. New bikes. Steel bikes. Teal bikes. Bikes with racks. Bikes with sacks. Bikes pulling kids with snacks. Bikes with fenders. Bikes as lenders. Bikes. Bikes. Bikes. 

Bench mural at the Chicago Children's Museum

For the second summer in a row, we took the family out to Chicago. During our trip last year we only spent half the time in the downtown area and I was certainly looking forward to the return trip to experience more of the city. I was astounded by the amount of cyclists out on the Lakeshore bike path. Even back in the city proper I saw cyclists on the street and bikes just locked up everywhere you could lock up a bike, block after block. This year was more of the same.

Maybe I just don't spend enough time in the more cycling-friendly areas of San Diego, but it certainly seems like the Windy City is more of a bike town than America's Finest City. Well, there really is no speculating because, in fact, it IS. Chicago was once named the #1 Bicycle-Friendly City in America by Bicycle Magazine, though it ranked 10th in the most recent list for 2010. San Diego? Nowhere in the Top 50. Anyway, my real point is to not belittle San Diego. Our city does have a lot of things going for it. We've got the weather and the beaches, and, you know, other stuff. I love Chicago in the summer, but I don't really have any immediate plans to go there in the winter.

Anyway, my point is...what IS my point? Oh yeah.

In Chicago I saw a lot of bikes. And it is not just seeing a lot of roadies cruising in packs, like you do see in San Diego, but just regular people riding bikes. Folks just out for a cruise. Folks commuting to/from work. Folks riding their bikes just going...somewhere.

And it was all over Chicago: The downtown Loop? Bikes. Lakeshore? Bikes. Lakeview? Bikes. Lincoln Park? Bikes. On the train, passing by Evanston? Bikes. Ravinia Park? Bikes. So you see, practically every place we went I saw people on bikes.

Cyclist in Oz Park.

I would also like to mention that I saw a plethora of old, lugged steel Schwinn bikes around the city. I know these bikes were actually built in Chicago for a long time, which certainly explains their abundance. It was just cool to see all of them still in regular use.

So, here's a few of my favorite snapshots of the bikes I saw this year. You can see more in my Flickr feed.

Cool vintage Motebecane fixed gear. One of my favorites.

Brooks saddle outfitted with a bunch of bells.
Would love to hear this bike go down the road.

Classy commuter rig.

A Breezer Uptown 8.
I'd never seen a Breezer Bike in person before.

Schwinn World Tourist. This things almost looks new.
Love the matching fenders.


  1. Glad to hear that you enjoyed your summer in Chicago - and yes, there are a fair number of people out riding- always wish for more though. Were you in Wicker Park or anywhere along Milwaukee Avenue? Almost as many people there during the morning rush hour as on the Lakefront. I got rid of my car when I moved to the city 15 years ago and I've never regretted it. Now I can't imagine not riding my bike everyday.

  2. The Lakefront Trail is probably the most annoying place in Chicago.

  3. @Samantha: No, we never made it out in the Wicker Park direction. We went down to MSI last year but didn't have time to see Jackson Park. After reading Devil in the White City I really wanted to explore that area. Another time, I guess.

    @Steve: Lakefront Trail is annoying because...? Too many users? Like tourists on Quadcycles??? Haha. That was US last year!