River North’s big bike routes

There are cities that are more bicycle friendly than Chicago, and there are cities which are less. Part of living here, if you want to ride your bike to work or just around town, is learning which streets are conducive to bicycle traffic, where they go, and when it is ok to use them.

While you can find bicycles weaving around traffic on just about every street, there are a few main bicycle thoroughfares (oft referred to as hipster highways) that have dedicated bike lanes and which are just as busy as the car part of the road. In River North and thereabouts streets include:

Lincoln Avenue. This North North West running street has a wide bike lane on each side, but is located somewhat north of River North itself. The 6 way intersections provide wide cushions where bikers can skim through, just watch for cars making turns who might not see you.

Continuing from Lincoln as it dead ends into LaSalle and Clark is the Wells bike lane, which (despite frequent stop signs) allows individuals a straight shot to River North past a number of schools. Sizable numbers of cars parked along this street mean that bikers do need to be watchful for individuals parking or who might open their car doors as you ride. At Huron the bike lane continues as a one way south lane until you cross the Chicago River and enter the Loop, where it ends.

Kinzie, running east west over the North Branch of the Chicago River, is a remarkable bike highway that has wide bike lanes protected by standup poles to completely insulate bike traffic from car traffic. During many hours of the day the route is literally bumper to bumper bikes. These lanes end at Dearborn.

Dearborn Street is another major north bike lane that runs through River North taking traffic all the way past River North from the Loop. Portions of the route are shared lanes, which are more harrowing to take though the one way nature of the road makes it far easier.

Make very sure that you buy a good bike helmet for the city, as well as a good lock. And be aware that illegally locking your bike in certain areas such as the Hancock center railing downtown will result in your bike being cut free and confiscated faster than you would believe possible.

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