The Chainlink

Alternatives to Halsted between Chicago and Randolph

Hello,

I've recently begun riding to (and from) the west loop daily from Edgewater. The most direct route is Clark to Halsted (my destination is a block west of Halsted on Washington), and for most of its length this is a great route, but the road surface on the final bit of Halsted between Chicago Ave. and Randolph has some really awful stretches. It looks (and feels) like it's been bombed. The parts under the overpasses are particularly bad, because it's too dark for me to easily see the shape of the buckles and bumps on the pavement and because the lane is narrower so there is less room for error.

I don't know this part of town at all. Is there a route that would let me bypass this section without going too far out of the way? I've tried taking Clark all the way downtown but getting across the loop at rush hour is very slow for me.

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1) To detour around a shorter section of Halsted, you can go a block west to Green. You will, however, have to make an uncontrolled left turn from Chicago onto Green, and then detour west a couple of blocks on Erie to Milwaukee, across the Ohio feeder ramp on Milwaukee, and then a soft right back onto Green just south of the ramp. Green is uninterrupted from there to Madison, and is significantly nicer than Halsted.

2) Another option would be to turn off Clark at Southport, take it to its end at the Finkl works at Cortland, across the bridge, left on Elston, Elston to Milwaukee and then the soft right on Green.

3) Take Clark to Wells, into the Loop and west from there.

Three excellent suggestions. Coincidentally, #1 is also the first one that occurred to me.

David P. said:

1) To detour around a shorter section of Halsted, you can go a block west to Green. You will, however, have to make an uncontrolled left turn from Chicago onto Green, and then detour west a couple of blocks on Erie to Milwaukee, across the Ohio feeder ramp on Milwaukee, and then a soft right back onto Green just south of the ramp. Green is uninterrupted from there to Madison, and is significantly nicer than Halsted.

2) Another option would be to turn off Clark at Southport, take it to its end at the Finkl works at Cortland, across the bridge, left on Elston, Elston to Milwaukee and then the soft right on Green.

3) Take Clark to Wells, into the Loop and west from there.

Turn at Grand to the west for Green or Morgan, or to the east for DesPlaines. If you go with Green or Morgan, you'll probably have to wait for passing Metra trains. If you go with Green, there's a short stretch that is one-way north between Fulton Market and Lake. If you go with Morgan you'll get the added benefit of being able to watch the transition of Google's new building at Fulton Market. Be careful crossing Lake. 

I'm not very familiar with DesPlaines but I think it's probably your best bet. 

Take whatever to Kinzie, cross the river, go north on Kingsbury to Larabee, then get back on Halsted as you like (Larabee is a decent N/S street in its own right).  You can also pick up the secret riverfront trail at the park at the end of Kingsbury.

I feel you. Chicago is truly horrendous from Milwaukee until you cross the bridge. There are some parts of Chicago that are busted down to the cobblestones and cars can't even drive at speed, so that causes traffic. 

I feel like a mountain biker (why do we call them bikers not cyclists? Weird.) when I ride on Chicago. 

There aren't any alternative routes between Chicago and Washington near Halsted. The streets just don't go through.

You said you're from Edgewater, so I would suggest going around. Take Granville or Ridge to Ravenswood, then south on Ravenswood to Peterson. Turn left on Peterson, go past the underpass, turn right and take Ravenswood south to Bryn Mawr. Take Bryn Mawr west to Damen, then south on Damen all the way to either Lake or Warren. If you take Lake, you can always get to Washington by going south on Racine or Morgan. On the way back west, you can take Randolph, but I would suggest Fulton.

This route avoids all the traffic mess you find on Clark and Halsted (except for the unavoidable Damen/North/Milwaukee intersection) and only has a few rough patches (a few bad spots on Ravenswood). But, as I said, it's mostly traffic lite.

I don't know where you start your ride in Edgewater, but I would avoid Clark/Ridge/Peterson. Messy messy messy. Yuck. That's why I say take Granville. If you're further south, from Ashland take Bryn Mawr west.

Thank you all for the advice. It hadn't occurred to me to take Damen, but it does make sense; I might give that a try.

Green is nice but has some noted problems (one-way north for a small bit; uncontrolled crossings).

If Damen doesn't work out you could consider taking Halsted to Hubbard and going west on Hubbard to Morgan, then taking Morgan to Washington. Morgan is nice because all the intersections have either stop signs or stop lights so you don't have to white-knuckle across a gap in traffic.

(But, if the quality of the pavement on Halsted between Chicago and Hubbard is bad, then that doesn't solve your problem.)

EDIT: My suggestion is less good northbound. Turning left/north onto Halsted from Hubbard could be stressful.

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