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Old 08-15-13, 05:16 PM   #1
CenturionIM
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Safe (relatively) route from Michigan City to Chicago

Okay, heard stories about south side, haven't been there myself. Apparently, even the suburbs are not that safe. I will be doing a tour that pass through this area, so full gear, loaded. I was thinking about doing some detours, but west side apparently sucks too! Can someone suggest a safe route? Extra distance is fine.

What google suggests:
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Old 08-16-13, 07:23 AM   #2
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I'm not one to typically shy away from certain geographic areas, but Chicago lately is somewhat of a powder keg ... and a bike tourer loaded down with hundreds of pounds of gear isn't going to be able to just stand on the pedals and get away.

Between Chicago and Gary there just aren't many nice areas. About the best option would be to swing way south, from Hobart, to Merrilville and Shererville and then head west before turning north somewhere around Tinley Park and Orland Park ... but that's adding some serious miles.
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Old 08-16-13, 08:45 AM   #3
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I'm not one to typically shy away from certain geographic areas, but Chicago lately is somewhat of a powder keg ... and a bike tourer loaded down with hundreds of pounds of gear isn't going to be able to just stand on the pedals and get away.

Between Chicago and Gary there just aren't many nice areas. About the best option would be to swing way south, from Hobart, to Merrilville and Shererville and then head west before turning north somewhere around Tinley Park and Orland Park ... but that's adding some serious miles.
Interesting. i would have suggested he hug the lake, ride the shoreline all the way.
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Old 08-16-13, 08:48 AM   #4
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That's rust belt territory ... not much there but old steel factories and limited access to the shore.
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Old 08-16-13, 09:04 AM   #5
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Interesting. i would have suggested he hug the lake, ride the shoreline all the way.
After plugging it into Google maps and specifying bike routes it gave me the same results as the OP. I also zoomed into the lake shore and ther are a few gaps that you would have to cross beach or dunes, not really easy on a touring bike. I am not sure what to tell you. I used to live in Harvey many moons ago and YES it is rough. Perhaps there is a bike club in Michigan City that you can try and contact, Google lists 2, one in 3 Oaks Michigan and another in Chicago itself, so maybe not much heal their. I would think that if you start early in the morning you should be able to make it in daylight easily, provided no mech troubles or flats.

I wish the OP good luck, let us know how it fairs.
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Old 08-16-13, 11:49 AM   #6
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Just stick to main streets. I go through an "interesting" part of Rochester everyday on my commute. I've never been bothered. From my experience they are more concerned about territory from rivals than a guy a bike. Anything can happen, just be aware and something seems not right it usually isn't and go a different way. It looks like most streets are blocks so head 2-3 blocks east or west and find a main street to follow. I've also found that there are less people around right after dawn (6:30 AM - 7:30 AM) and you may be able to catch more car traffic to follow. The more cars, the better. My afternoon commute is ALWAYS more sketchy than the ride in.

Just don't act like you own the place. Stay quiet. Reserved. Aware.

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Old 08-16-13, 01:02 PM   #7
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I would try to hug the lake shore. You may be able to piece something together here: http://www.southshorecva.com/things-to-do/bike-trails/
You can take the Chicago Lakefront Trail, too.

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Old 08-17-13, 06:51 PM   #8
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You will be going through Gary, Hammond, East Chicago ect.. to get to Chicago? That will be a dangerous commute. I agree with heading towards Orland Park but then you will enter Chicago on the far South Side. Probably the 90's or "wild 100's". I would suggest taking the subway into downtown from there because you will not want to bike those areas.
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Old 08-17-13, 09:30 PM   #9
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Guess this will be what I am taking....
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Old 08-18-13, 05:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by CenturionIM View Post
Okay, heard stories about south side, haven't been there myself. Apparently, even the suburbs are not that safe. I will be doing a tour that pass through this area, so full gear, loaded. I was thinking about doing some detours, but west side apparently sucks too! Can someone suggest a safe route? Extra distance is fine.

What google suggests:
That route is exactly the one I intend to explore next month. It includes a network of trails which takes you south of all the crap involved with the Gary In. area. I have talked to one person who has used it who said it is a very good route, but the trails are not completely connected. He said you really have to be careful to find the beginning of the next trail segment. I am hoping the cue sheet from Google will be helpful. I have ridden the Lakeshore Trail portion all the way from the south end of Chicago to the north without any problem. That part of Chicago may appear rough but it's really a blue collar neighborhood and people tend to keep to themselves. The trail in Chicago is a major commuter route to downtown and has a lot of bike traffic. Let me know how it goes. That area of Hammond and Gary is the only really sketchy part IMO.

Marc
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Old 08-18-13, 11:47 AM   #11
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Guess this will be what I am taking....
It looks like this route would take you on some of the newer trails, and trail connections as you head north. I live and ride around the northern parts of this route, and would recommend a gps or smartphone with mapping on it to find your way through some of the newer and unmarked parts of the routes. The efforts to connect some of the existing paths have made it easier to get around if you know where you're going, the problem is many of these new connections and paths were unmarked the last time I rode on them.
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