Our biennial ranking of the 50 most cycling-friendly cities in the United States finds that bikes are taking the nation by storm and not just in the expected places. Read on to find out how your city fared this year.
Population 2,714,856, 2012 Rank , Bike Facilities 1.1, People per Bike-Share 572, Safety Score 3.9
Lisa Curcio had not ridden a bike in 40 years. But on a spring morning in 2012, the then 57-year-old county judge straddled a new hybrid bicycle and pedaled onto Milwaukee Avenue—where bike traffic reaches Amsterdam-like capacity—and rode into work. Today, Curcio owns four bicycles (including two commuters) and arrives at the courthouse via Dearborn Street, a new two-way cycle-track bisecting downtown Chicago. In his first term as Mayor, Rahm Emanuel saw through an ambitious (some said insane) bike plan calling for 100 miles of buffered and barricaded bike lanes. Citywide, traffic cameras cut speeding cars by as much as 90 percent. Dooring fines doubled to $1,000, and penalties for scofflaw cyclists more than quadrupled. Emanuel also snipped the ribbon on a $60 million bike-ped flyover for the iconic lakefront trail, and engaged in a bike-share arms race with New York City, installing the most stations in the U.S. The result? Thousands of Chicago residents rediscovered cycling.
Great Bike Shops
With two locations on popular bike routes through Lakeview and Andersonville, Johnny Sprockets has welcoming mechanics and a huge well-rounded inventory for roadies and city riders.
Boulevard Bikes in Logan Square specializes in top-notch service for urban cyclists, retro enthusiasts, and commuters without making road cyclists feel out of place.
Looking for a high-end bike? Get a Grip Cycles in Irving Park features “best-in-class brand selection” and expert repair, in addition to sponsoring a triathlon team.
The Active Transportation Alliance is Chicago’s voice for better biking, walking, and mass transit. The organization hosts bike commute challenges and fun annual events like the Bike to Brew pedals and pints party.
Every Saturday morning amateur racing team Racing leads a no-drop ride up to Highland Park and on to several loop extensions. The route is also used by the Spider Monkey Cycling Club, which includes a mix of racing and non-racing members.
The Sunday before Memorial Day is Bike the Drive, hosted by the Active Transportation Alliance. More than 21,000 cyclists take over all four lanes of Lake Shore Drive, which is closed to traffic, and take in the sights and sounds of Lake Michigan without distraction from cars.
Sample delicious local foods along a 12-, 22-, 43- or 62-mile route through Chicago’s South Side at the Four Star Bike & Chow. The ride passes multiple points of interest, including the site of the 1893 World’s Fair and President Obama’s house, and ends in a festival at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus with a picnic, music, and Revolution Brewery beer.
The Chicago Cross Cup series draws huge crowds of cyclocross racers and their supporters. Bring a cowbell and beer to cheer on the serious competitors and their less-serious Cat 4B compatriots, many of whom are just out there to have fun in street clothes on commuter bikes.
Take the Chicago Lakefront Trail to South Shore Drive, and head south on rural roads to Three Floyds Brewpub in Munster, Indiana, where you can loop back or have a friend pick you up in order to fully enjoy the brewery’s offerings. Those less comfortable with long rides should try the Green Bay and North Branch trails, which have access to the Chicago Botanical Gardens.
Additional reporting by Caitlin Giddings
We’re pleased that e-bike riders would be able to use Chicago’s swiftly growing network of bike lanes, and that e-bike riders would have a speed limit of 20 mph, which keeps them close to the same speed as people riding standard bikes.
BENEFITS OF AN ELECTRIC BIKE
Riding electric bikes, great therapy for “Eternal Youth” bring back time and feel like a teenager again, there is not limits on where you can go or what you can see.
- “Easier Travel” They’re revolutionizing urban transit.
- “Core Strengthening” Solid workout, especially for your core.
- “Lighter Carbon Footprint” Electric cycling doesn’t consume gas.
- “More Savings” Does not required special licensing.