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  1. #1
    Senior Member duppie's Avatar
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    Is Chicago Lakeshore path rideable in winter?

    This is the first year that I will be commuting year round. I ride from the North end of the path to Navy Pier and from there into downtown. From my previous years when I would run home once a week in te winter, I remember that most of the path would be cleared after snowfall, but that the area between Gold Coast beach and Navy pier was not maintained. But then again, I was on foot each time, so my focus may have been different.
    Does anybody have any experience with commuting the Lakeshore Path in the winter? Any Do's and Don'ts?
    Thanks, Duppie

  2. #2
    nvr
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    I'm not lucky enough to be able to commute downtown everyday, but from what I remember last winter the path was pretty clear. No signifcant ruts that I can remember. The scariest section though would be near Oak St Beach right at the bend (where you'd be traveling). Water from the lake splashes up and freezes making that section an ice rink. Slow the hell down and hug the wall going around that corner. I've slid on it before and though I remained upright, I also finally stopped about 10ft from the lake. I think I'd rather ride down Clark after a snowfall, at least you know the streets would be plowed soon after a snowfall.

  3. #3
    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nvr View Post
    I'm not lucky enough to be able to commute downtown everyday, but from what I remember last winter the path was pretty clear. No signifcant ruts that I can remember. The scariest section though would be near Oak St Beach right at the bend (where you'd be traveling). Water from the lake splashes up and freezes making that section an ice rink. Slow the hell down and hug the wall going around that corner. I've slid on it before and though I remained upright, I also finally stopped about 10ft from the lake. I think I'd rather ride down Clark after a snowfall, at least you know the streets would be plowed soon after a snowfall.
    Yeah, be careful there. The park district did have barriers blocking the path at Oak St last year at one point~can't remember exactly when.

    For the most part it is pretty clear. Be careful though, when there is snow off to the side (yes they do clear the path regularly) and the weather warms just enough to melt a bit of it (bright sunny day, even if the temp is <32*F) it can freeze on the sidewalk, the result is a very tricky morning ride (esp before 7am). After riding out there and paying close attention to the variable conditions you will know the "danger zones" on your route.

    Overall advice: take it easy and you will be fine.

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Wilke's Avatar
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    I ran across this page this morning. Interesting stuff.

    "Chicago Bike Winter"


  5. #5
    Lotion/Basket/Hose Doctor Who's Avatar
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    A friend of mine ended up in the lake at Oak street after a gust of wind knocked him over and off his bike. He slid right into the water and two runners had to help him out. His bike didn't go in, at least.
    Be careful through there!

  6. #6
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    If you have any other way of commuting, I would use it. Between, the freezing water and the nasty wind, it is not a great place to ride. Avoid if possible.
    Kenal0

  7. #7
    Car free Sept 08 citylove's Avatar
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    I made this mistake just once late last winter. It was cold and there was snow on the ground, but nothing fresh so the pavement was dry; I thought it would be a good change from my regular commute. The wind almost killed me. I would have been better off walking my bike. I lasted less than a half mile (from North up to the closest exit. I don't remember - It may have been a mile if I had to get to Fullerton to get off). The wind was far, far worse than I expected. I'd caution against it.

  8. #8
    aaa
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Wilke View Post
    Some great tips here; thanks for sharing! I'm gearing up for the first of hopefully many Chicago winters during which I will ride my commute every day. Those folks at REI and Performance and Bike Nashbar are making a killing off me!

    I am used to riding Lincoln Ave, but I prefer the 5.5 miles of traffic-free LFP. I'll be sure to exercise caution when the wind and/or snow picks up, and choose my route carefully.

  9. #9
    Senior Member John Wilke's Avatar
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    I'll be in Chicago Sunday for the IL State CX Champs ... will try to grab some shots of the path. (doubt that I'll bring my bike).

  10. #10
    aaa
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    As of this morning, the LFP from Oak Street Beach to Navy Pier was not plowed. I pushed through it, but accumulated a lot of snow on my bike.



    The more open portions of LFP have snow drift accumulation, but not deep.

    Take caution when approaching the esses at Addison (where there is construction), not much salt there so it's a little slippery.

    Rubber side down!

  11. #11
    nvr
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    Thanks for the update. I still plan on bike commuting tomorrow (my version of it anyways). I think I'll stick to the streets the whole way in until the path has been cleared. I think there will be less chance of hitting icy spots on the more traveled streets. Wish I had a cx bike to go through the snow.

  12. #12
    Senior Member duppie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaa View Post
    As of this morning, the LFP from Oak Street Beach to Navy Pier was not plowed. I pushed through it, but accumulated a lot of snow on my bike.



    The more open portions of LFP have snow drift accumulation, but not deep.

    Take caution when approaching the esses at Addison (where there is construction), not much salt there so it's a little slippery.

    Rubber side down!
    aaa, those are some great pictures!
    Yesterday i rode my bike to the Metra station and took the train in.
    This morning I biked all the way downtown (little over 10 miles), all on city streets. They were clear of any snow and traffic seemed remarkably light. The lack of wind made for a nice ride

    Based on your pictures I will try the lakefront tonight, but I will get on to the path at Oak street beach. I have no desire to slide into the lake....
    Duppie

  13. #13
    nvr
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    I rode in and stuck to the streets as well. I'm so glad the wind let up. It's been pretty brutal lately. I'm sticking to the streets all the back though, I have no desire to tackle snow and ruts on my skinny tired everything bike.

  14. #14
    aaa
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    Quote Originally Posted by duppie View Post
    I have no desire to slide into the lake....
    According to CBF, they don't plow and salt that section because of the slope. Unfortunately, I didn't heed their warning and went down on the ice. Normally, this would be a bit tragic; but when the mountain biker in front of you goes down and you follow suit a second later, well that's comedy.

  15. #15
    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    ^^Well, at least you didn't go in...talk about the worst day possible!

    I'll be riding on the south side of the LFP tomorrow, it is not too bad except for near 38th street, there is always ice there (or there was all last winter)...

  16. #16
    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Wilke View Post
    I'll be in Chicago Sunday for the IL State CX Champs ... will try to grab some shots of the path. (doubt that I'll bring my bike).
    I may try to get there for this...I've never seen a cross race, must be fun. I am running an 8k at 9am at Lincoln park so I may just head up there for the masters races after 10.

  17. #17
    Senior Member duppie's Avatar
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    AAA, tip o' the hat to you for riding the LFP

    So tonight I rode home on the LFP. Can't say I liked it too much.
    Got on at Oak Street. The underpass was barely passable First part until North was rather icy. Got a little better later further North, but until Addison there were fairly wide spread patches of ice/packed snow/slush
    Only North of Addison, the path was rideable at close to normal speeds.

    Either the park district did a crappy job, or my memory is playing games with me. I remember it to be better cleared....

    There was one guy on a FG who passed me as if I was standing still. He had an orange frame. Very depressing.......

    I think I will stick to the road tomorrow....
    Duppie

  18. #18
    nvr
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    aaa - hope you're not too bruised up. I'm sure it would've been funny to see, glad it wasn't me

    Quote Originally Posted by duppie View Post
    AAA, tip o' the hat to you for riding the LFP

    I think I will stick to the road tomorrow....
    Duppie
    I left work in the south loop, and headed up LaSalle, then turned onto Clark. The roads were clear and dry for the most part, much better than this morning, and traffic was normal. I'm sticking to the roads, stoplights and all. I've fallen on ice too many times to count, and I'd like to avoid any bad routes if I can help it. I AM going to need to find a suitable route to get to the South Side though.

  19. #19
    aaa
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    Yeah, I think that same guy on the orange fixed passed me, too! Ha ha! I'm not sure if my LFP days will last much longer. The commute home tonight was sketchy at best. Like Duppie, I had problems just getting onto LFP from Oak St. Further north everything was getting better... but that was a quarter mile from my stop at Montrose. Go figure. I changed gearing from 42/15 to 42/17 for tomorrow's commute -- it's not like I'm going fast. I'll hit LFP for the ride in, and take the traffic-riddled route home (Wells to Lincoln).

  20. #20
    Senior Member duppie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nvr View Post
    I left work in the south loop, and headed up LaSalle, then turned onto Clark.
    nvr,
    When I take to roads to go North, I usually stick to Wells. It has bike lanes, and the speed of traffic is a lot lower than say LaSalle. Only problem is just North of the river, where Wells is a one way going South.

    At the end of Wells (1900 N.) you can take Lincoln ar a quick right and get onto Clark.

    Duppie

  21. #21
    nvr
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    Thanks. I work at LaSalle and Jackson so that seemed the easiest route for me. Wells is one way here, going the wrong way for me, but I'll keep it in mind.

  22. #22
    aaa
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    From Montrose to Oak Street Beach:
    The path is plowed, and was being salted just after 9 AM this morning. Take caution: the ess at the construction at Addison was overly salted, so it's just like riding over gravel. At North Avenue Beach the east path going towards the lake is plowed and salted, but the west path heading towards the street is not -- a little slushy at some points. The Oak Street tunnel was salted on the lake side, but not on the street side.

    Rubber side down!

  23. #23
    aaa
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    From Montrose to Oak Street:
    The path was damp at best, slushy at worst. Shallow puddles of water gathering at random places. No ice that I noticed. Oak Street tunnel was clear and rideable. Snow accumulated at eastern path at North Avenue Beach, stick to the western path and watch out for the small patch of snow at the light. Freezing rain is predicted for the evening forecast.

    Rubber side down!

  24. #24
    Senior Member duppie's Avatar
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    Did anybody ride the path after the snow we had this weekend? After a good week on Chicago roads I am longing for a relaxed, car-free ride on the path. Only if it is rideable of course....
    Duppie

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    Quote Originally Posted by duppie View Post
    Did anybody ride the path after the snow we had this weekend? After a good week on Chicago roads I am longing for a relaxed, car-free ride on the path. Only if it is rideable of course....
    Duppie
    I'd like an update also. The temps will be mild Fri and Sat and the paths in the south suburbs are not rideable now, but a ride downtown would be great for getting rid of some cabin fever.

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