Wake up, boil water, take shower, brew coffee, toast toast, pack bag, drink coffee, eat toast, head to basement, retrieve bike, RIDE BIKE! This is my morning routine, or at least it has been for the last few months since buying a bike. Riding in Chicago is one of the quickest ways to get around and, with out a doubt, the fastest way to get to know the city.
Over the last few months, I have been riding my bike a lot. The biggest chunk of riding is the 18 mile round trip from home to Columbia. Even though it’s the longest ride in my week, it’s also my favorite because I ride the Lakefront Trail the whole way. Everyday, I am amazed at the beauty of the lake and how it always seems to be a different color. Some days, it’s six different shades of blue, and some days, it’s a deep emerald green. The Chicago skyline is always breathtaking as it looms into view the closer I get to the Loop. This spectacular car/bus-free commute may well be the one reason I wouldn’t want to live in any other neighborhood.[flickr id=”7972184652″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]
Having said that, the city is taking biking more seriously and is investing in cycle-friendly infrastructure to make any bike journey in the city a pleasurable experience. There are new bike lanes continually being constructed, and the recent introduction of the B-cycle sharing scheme is bound to prove as popular as similar programs have in London and Paris. In fact, Chicago is becoming so pro boneshaker, that it has been called “America’s fifth most bike-friendly city.” The guy spearheading this initiative is Gabe Klein, Chicago’s Transport Commissioner and super, mega, hyper, uber, bona fide legend (he also helped launch Zipcar, btw!). Check out all the good work he has been doing here, including the 2015 Chicago Bike Plan. Someone get the guy a gold-plated saddle, or bell, or something!
Chicago really has a great bike culture, and anyone moving here will have a great time discovering the city on their Penny-farthings. Remember, if you do ride a bike, invest in three vital pieces of equipment: a helmet, some lights, and a GOOD STRONG lock. The first two go without saying, but a good lock is often overlooked. Just the other day, I witnessed a guy buying the cheapest bike lock in Target. He may as well have stripped his bike of parts and thrown it in the river himself. Like any big city, Chicago has the odd bike thief or ten, so you can never be too careful. Also, having a great lock is pointless if you don’t know how to lock your bike.