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  1. #1
    Senior Member cream's Avatar
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    Question about riding in the city - Chicago.

    So, i hope this is the right place to ask this. I have recently fixed up my bike and have been using it as my main mode for transportation for almost everything. For those familiar with Chicago terrain, i live in the south loop and most of the time i can get things done with a 5-10 minute (depending on my hustle) bike ride to the downtown loop area of Chicago.

    With that said, as you can probably tell, I mostly ride in city traffic. At first it was pretty scary, almost terrifying, then i started to figure things out a bit. Now, its just addictive-ly fun, even though i am still learning a bit. I bike to school three time a week, but i am always looking for other stuff to do in order to have an excuse to take the bike out. I did a 13 mile ride today for an errand I normally run with a car...

    What i am looking for is some basic advice from those that ride a lot in the city. Basically, I would like some pointers on what not to do. I would really hate to be that guy that pisses people off, but has no clue that he is doing it. I like to be knowledgable about the things that I do, and I also have an appreciation for etiquette. Of course some "DO's" can go along with this as well.

    Anyway, I would love to hear some advice from seasoned city riders/commuters.

    Here is what i have been doing so far:
    -always ride in street
    -use bike lanes when available
    -get out of bike lane when obstructed with enough time to make sure everything goes smoothly.
    -Obey traffic lights (mostly)
    -I do not ride all the way to the right hand side near the curb, as I find it to be dangerous. Between road debris, potholes, and not having anywhere to go in a jam due to the curb, I only did that once, never again.
    -Yield to pedestrians at all costs: bikes are to cars, as people are to bikes...
    -This one i am not 100% sure on: I tend to stick to the white lines of the road, unless the lane is free, then i just take over the lane. (without a bike lane present of course)

    Some questions:
    -is it OK to ride in a yellow median?
    -Can you ride on the sidewalk on Michigan avenue (by the museum and grant park) since its so wide and the streets are so narrow?
    -How often is it acceptable for a bike rider to have a car lane to himself.



    OK, i know there is a lot here, but i have a lot on my mind. Thanks in advanced for any advice...

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    This book answers every question: The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Cyclin.../dp/0762743166
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  3. #3
    Senior Member cream's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply, I guess I should have known there would have been a book on the subject. I just ordered a copy, looking forward to reading it.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Senior Member cream's Avatar
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    While I am buying books. Any other good suggestions?

  5. #5
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I have other books that cover bike repair. I also collect information on bike trails.

    the Zinn bike repair books are very good: http://www.bing.com/shopping/search?...ikes&FORM=HURE
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
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    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike
    1971ish Peugeot PX10: "Fancy Lugs"

  6. #6
    Senior Member cream's Avatar
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    Oh yes, I have the Zinn book for road bike maintenance. Very good book. I have used it for most of the info i have needed for my repairs... Well aside from the help that I have received from this forum, of course.

    Thanks for the suggestions though. Good to know I am on the right track. Probably wont be needing any trail related books for a while.

    BTW, I just received and started reading my copy of "Art of Cycling" today, and can already see why you suggested it. I think it was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Use the lake front bike path when you can. You get around so much faster when you don't need to worry about cars and lights, plus it's quite scenic.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cream's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willy704 View Post
    Use the lake front bike path when you can. You get around so much faster when you don't need to worry about cars and lights, plus it's quite scenic.
    I live right off of the lake, so I should really try that. Its funny, I know I should really try things for myself, but there are a couple threads here talking about how crazy the bike path can get. With all of the congestion, kids running out onto the path, etc. It kind of turned me off to wanting to go that way for a commute or an exercise run. Next time I am out just for the fun of it, that is where I am headed...

  9. #9
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cream View Post
    I live right off of the lake, so I should really try that. Its funny, I know I should really try things for myself, but there are a couple threads here talking about how crazy the bike path can get. With all of the congestion, kids running out onto the path, etc. It kind of turned me off to wanting to go that way for a commute or an exercise run. Next time I am out just for the fun of it, that is where I am headed...
    The Lakefront bike path south of the Field Museum is great to use almost anytime. However, the Lakefront Bike Path between the Field Museum and Irving Park Rd can be crowded on any nice day and more so on a summer weekend. Most of the time, the path is usable, but constant care needs to be taken.

    Cream: If you live Downtown, head south and enjoy the lakefront. If you live further north just be ready for heavier traffic.
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike
    1971ish Peugeot PX10: "Fancy Lugs"

  10. #10
    Senior Member cream's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    If you live Downtown, head south and enjoy the lakefront. If you live further north just be ready for heavier traffic.
    Ah, that makes sense, good advice. I live in the south loop, so heading south sounds like the way to go.

  11. #11
    Junior Member cannabinoid's Avatar
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    This free book has some basics about city riding http://bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm

    In the city I mainly try to go on roads with bike lanes, some of the roads out in the suburbs are really bad for cycling in my opinion (cars like to go 50-60 and squeeze past you on the left instead of changing lanes) so I end up riding on the sidewalk where available (a lot of suburban roads don't even have sidewalks)

    As far as riding on the sidewalk on michigan ave in the south loop, if you go slow enough and respect pedestrians I think it's fine (but technically it's illegal however I've never seen or heard of this law actually being enforced)

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