The Chainlink

   After living in Chicago for almost a year I've come to the conclusion that biking here sucks and you should all just give up, join the winning team and buy an SUV. Never been to Portland or Copenhagen or shitty places like Dallas and Houston, but I've bike messengered, toured and commuted all around Boston and New York. I don't want to just trash talk, but you have it pretty rough here.


1. Potholes? The streets are literally carpet bombed. NYC has mostly shoddy road work that can be a hassle, but here the roads are just disintegrating from within. Roads in Boston are pretty good.

2. No room on the roads for bikes. You're always in the way of the cars, even if your in the bike plane.

3. Guns. You honestly have to worry that the driver you're about to curse out might be packing.

4. Cell phones. Drivers consider it their right to talk and text and the police don't seem to enforce any ban on it. You rarely see NY drivers with a phone to their ear.

5. Speed? What is the speed limit in Chicago, 45, 60?

6. Lakefront Trail? Either too windy and cold or too crowded. It's nice for a cruise but taking a road bike on it is just too much. Is there any place for a good road ride?

7. You have to dress like a OSHA inspector. Sit on Milwaukee at rush hour, all you see is reflective vests, helmets, lights, mirrors and cuff protectors. Unfortunately being safe and visible is your only protection against the drivers whose heads are too far up their asses to see you.

8. There's no cycle chic. Because you have to wear all that OSHA safety gear you don't see many hot moms on their Danish cruisers riding to the farmers market. All you see in New York is model chics riding old cruisers that they paid way too much for, that and Chinese guys on e bikes.

9. Bike theft is pretty common in Boston because of the college students and their inability to properly secure their bikes. The Lower East Side of Manhattan is pretty bad for bike theft too. But here you are totally screwed because the poles just come out of the bases.

10. What happened to 3 feet? Yellow cabs in Manhattan give you more room than the drivers here. Safe passing distance here is, well I didn't hit you did I?

11. Fixed gear conversions and Walmart fixies. Come summer you'll start to see them by the hundreds, shitty road frames from the 80's stripped on their non essentials and turned into a fixie, SS or worse a coaster brake. If not that then it's a white and lime green color coordinated walmart fixed gears, SF Drafts or whatever.

12. No hills. There's no hills, hills are fun.

13. Sirens, the fire trucks and ambulances here have sirens that can be heard from no less than 3 miles away. Their horns can cause you to have a brain hemorrhage and or permanently loose your hearing.

14. Salt destroys everything.

15. Headlights, are they optional after dark or are the drivers just too stupid to turn them on?  

16. Rust bucket specials. Missing mirrors, lights dangling, severe body damage, this describes 95% of the cars on the streets of Chicago

In conclusion, riding here gives you several options, getting run over, getting doored, going deaf from a firetruck, getting shot or a slow death by salt. It's a humiliating experience fraught with danger and day glow vests. I think it's hopeless


1. Potholes. They act like speed bumps and slow the drivers down.

2. The cars are way more patient, really. People are in much less of a hurry. Of course they will tailgate you, but it's not so bad.

3. Trails, they might be boring but you can go pretty far north just on trails.

4. Tickets, police don't ticket bikes here, not too much at least. I paid over $1,000 to the NYS DMV for running red lights on my bike. Cops in New York love to ticket bikes.

5. Easy. Biking here is easy, sure you get buzzed by every other car but there's not too much to contend with, ie double parking, pedestrians. Plus no hills, so it's perfect for a crappy fixed gear conversion.

6. No wrong way cyclist, ie salmon. NYC has it's lovely bike lanes but it's full of delivery guys going the wrong way and pedestrians blindly stepping out. 

7. Safety in numbers. The rush hour peloton on Milwaukee is pretty empowering. 

8. No car service Lincoln Town car homicidal maniacs. I still have nightmares about town cars. Livery cab drivers make yellow cabs look like saints.

So 16 cons and 8 pros.

Views: 3300

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Potholes suck, but city may be trying to do something about it.  

I still do love riding here though.

I hope your move from Chicago goes well.  We'll be just fine, even better without you. 

You've done a poor job not talking trash

>So 16 cons and 8 pros.

This is hilarious! One thing you may not have learned about Chicago is that we love to root for the underdog. Thanks for delineating all the things I can brag/complain about to my non-biking friends.


You know... your complaints aren't entirely invalid in general, though I think they are entirely blown out of proportion and most of your cons nullify your pros... every ones speeding! But they're more patient... what?

However the one about the cycling chic and the hot moms strikes me as incredibly offensive/misognynistic. Women cyclists are not there to be your eye candy. You really need to have more respect than that. 

No wonder I was the ONLY woman cyclist I saw out today, with people like you out there.

Pretty much sums it up. OTOH, here are things that suck worse than biking in Chicago:

1. Living somewhere that's not Chicago.

2. Getting around on something that's not a bike.

Never mind.

The white and lime green is SPECIFICALLY Target, not Walmart, and it's a single speed with flippable fixed for just $99.  Way to reach the masses!  And no hills IS fun.

Plus group rides and bike parties = * 1,000,000

I am going to respond to most of your ridiculous cons.

Potholes happen in ALL cold weather cities. This was a particularly brutal winter, weakening the concrete, and therefore causing more potholes. This is to assume they never occurred in Boston, NYC or many other cold weather cities this brutal winter.

"2. No room on the roads for bikes. You're always in the way of the cars, even if you’re in the bike plane." Are you kidding me!?! Have you not been downtown? If you have, then you need to get your eyes checked. I am going to assume you meant "bike lane" and not "bike plane." Not only are there protected bike lanes almost everywhere, many areas in the loop have bike lanes completely separated from auto traffic.

"Guns." How about you NOT curse people and show civility. And because, there are no guns in Boston, NYC, Detroit, LA, Miami, Cleveland, Dallas...

"Cell phones." This is a baseless claim. You can't just say "oh, this doesn't happen in NYC!" and have it be true. Just because you have seen some drivers talk on their cell phones doesn't mean cops don't pull them over.

The Lakefront trail is a multipurpose path! Yes, it gets crowded. Yes it can get windy. If you want to go fast there are MANY other trails. Your assertion also assumes wind does not occur in other cities. If you want to go fast and avoid crowds, there are tons of other trails in the area that can be accessed via Metra.

"OSHA Inspectors" Isn't it common sense to wear visible colors wherever you bike!? This has NOTHING to do with Chicago.

As mentioned by another user, your next point is incredibly sexist. Women are not your pieces of meat.

Point 9 makes NO sense. To your point, keep in mind Chicago is ranked high in bike theft because it’s HIGHLY POPULATED!

#10 is another baseless and bald assertion.

"Fixed gear conversions and Walmart fixies. Come summer you'll start to see them by the hundreds, shitty road frames from the 80's stripped on their non essentials and turned into a fixie." I have to say this pisses me of the most. A bike IS A BIKE! Some people can only afford a Walmart Bike. Who the hell cares what kind of bike you ride? Do you have any logical basis as to why this is problem?


If you love hills so damn much, you are in the wrong city, and even more likely on the wrong trails.


#13, yet another ridiculous bald assertion. I am sure the sirens are polite and quiet in Boston, NYC, San Francisco…whatever.


Your last three “cons” have nothing to do with Chicago anymore than they would many other large cities in the US.

...and yet I keep riding everyday. I take on that hardship and keep getting stronger. I feel like a goddamned hero now! Thanks, Jimmy, whoever the hell you are!

So why do you even live here again?


© 2008-2016   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C.   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service