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  1. #1
    Dumpster cyclist
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    Routes into/out of Chicago?

    I'm currently on a TA tour, and we're in Iowa about to enter Illinois. We plan on a stop through Chicago for a couple days, but neither of us have been there, much less been there on a bike. Being smaller-town kids, we're a little nervous about entering the city on bikes.

    Does anyone have any ideas for good highways/bike paths to get into town? I'm not sure where we're staying yet, so I don't have a destination address unfortunately. Any particular areas to avoid?

    Thanks!
    My latest feckless undertakings:
    http://www.erictomczak.webs.com

  2. #2
    Bike touring webrarian
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    I tour on a Waterford Adventurecycle. It is a fabulous touring bike.
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    Here is an on-line biking map through the city of Chicago. It is an interactive map that takes zipcodes and "neighborhoods" input and shows suggested routes through them.

    I hope it helps,

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member Neil G.'s Avatar
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    Check out the Grand Illinois Trail. It will give you three different options for heading into Chicago from the west. They even have maps and cue sheets you can print out.

    The routes are a little indirect and trail-focused for my tastes (when I'm trying to make time on tour), but if you have plenty of time, they're excellent ways to get through the 25-mile suburban barrier, which is the main difficulty of making it into the city. West of the Fox River will be mostly country roads (though filled with non-country drivers, so still be alert), and once you're in the City of Chicago proper, everything is on a grid and there are bike lanes everywhere, so that won't be much of an issue.

    Entering the city proper from the west (the "Maywood" route) will take you through some not-so-great neighborhoods, but as long as you're sensible there shouldn't be anything to be concerned about.

    I've used IL-72, IL-64, and US-30 as routes beyond the suburbs; none of them fantastic, but none terrible. Those are mostly on the northern half of the city though; if you're coming a bit more from the south, I have less experience down there.

    Neil

  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    Neil's right. I think your best bet will be following the Grand Illinois Trail. This is without knowing exactly where you're coming from or headed afterward or what you want to see in Chicago. If you're coming from the tri-state area (Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois), the Trail starts not too far from Galena, Illinois (in the Northwest point of Ill.), so it may be worth picking it up there and taking it the whole way.

    As far as finding your way around Chi, I find it best to utilize the city's route along Lake Michigan. In other words, stay on the Grand Illinois Trail. You could make your way through the city rather than stick on its outskirts on your way in, but it would take more time, and if you do not have much experience in heavy auto traffic, Chicago's streets might be intimidating.

    The lake route makes it easy to navigate streets and keeps you away from them as much as is possible. Since everything's on a grid, you'll find Chicago to be easier to maneuver than most any other city you travel through. You can ride N or S and head W whenever you want to go in.

    In my opinion, you'll be fine in this city so long as you're careful. Before you get here, try to know what it is that you want to see for those couple of days. There's a hostel downtown on Michigan ave., not far from the bike route; that may be worth looking into, though it's still expensive - something like 35-40 dollars pp. If you're with a group, you're probably better off getting a cheap hotel. If you're camping, try asking a fellow biker for their yard; you'll see a lot of them.

    Anyway good luck. Here is another site that might be helpful: http://chicagobikes.org/bikemaps/

    Sto.

  5. #5
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil G. View Post
    Entering the city proper from the west (the "Maywood" route) will take you through some not-so-great neighborhoods, but as long as you're sensible there shouldn't be anything to be concerned about.

    Neil
    As you can see from my aviator I live near the trail head of the Praire Path, ie the Maywood part of the"Maywood route". I commute on it frequently. The sketcher part is from 25th St. east to 1St Ave, about 2.5 miles or so. I have never had a problem although after dark I get off of the path at that point and stick to a well travelled, well lit streets like Madison St. The good news is that it only takes about 20 minutes or so to get through it. The bad news is that in that area it is a paved path that has a continous stream of broken glass on it, although I have not had a flat in 2 1/2 years with my Schawlbe Marathon Pluses. If you did flat in that area it might not be a bad idea just to walk the bike forward or backwards a mile or so to change it.

  6. #6
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    I know we've picked up free maps in Dundee Illinois along the trail. There's a nice little building there staffed by volunteers. I presume there will be other places that give these out as well.

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