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.

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You're right- tight duds don't cut it for me while riding, either.

But even in the hottest weather I wear a helmet, gloves, and real shoes. Call it insurance, I suppose.

Lisa Curcio 4.1 mi said:

Your forgot 4) to be warm or cool (as in not hot) and 5) to be comfortable!  Most people I know ride bikes for transportation and for fun.  Who cares what they are wearing!?  Unless, of course, it is a tweed ride and then one is dressing for fun.

fish aren't the only things that can get hooked by some juicy bait.

Dug - I still love you.


Mike Zumwalt said:

Everyday I go out looking for girls riding in bikinis, in front of me. Damn prudish Chicago riders!

Maybe he's looking for a reaction more in the way of...?

Michelle Milham said:

Maybe we need to have another lady cyclists thread about sexism... Jimmy seems to have missed the first one. Eh. I'll go get a link and edit this. 

Jimmy - you really should peruse this. Maybe it will help you to understand and not participate in the expectation that ladies look pretty for you while they ride.

Bob said:

speaking of hot moms riding chic danish bikes, doesn't Jimmy's profile make you ladies swoon at his hotness?!!!! like Brad Pitt on a bike! don't you agree ladies???!!!!

I'll take a "non hot mom" riding with a crate on her rack any day over some tragically chic woman on a $3000 mixte she only rides to be seen. Plus, Rapha? Really? Only tools pay $80 for a bandana, just sayin.

i basically wear whatever is handy (clean and top of the pile). Or at least near the pile. clean is optional too. today I dressed perfectly for my extended commute. stopped at the massive fire at irving and kedzie at 6:30am and a girl upstairs (leaning out the window staring at all the firemen (flame me (pun intended))) asked me if I needed anything ("you want a cup of coffee, a beer or come up and do a shot ?" not kidding. only in chicago. I said "no thanks, I'm good" and she replied "OK well then I am going back to bed") happy monday

:)  Tragically chic - love it!

Vondo said:

I'll take a "non hot mom" riding with a crate on her rack any day over some tragically chic woman on a $3000 mixte she only rides to be seen. Plus, Rapha? Really? Only tools pay $80 for a bandana, just sayin.

I think too that we need to be careful about saying "ugh tragically chic women on expensive bikes" - that's pretty sexist too. Sorry to be the sexism police. 

I'm just saying that everyone, men and women alike, should be able to get on whatever model of bike they've chosen to purchase, wearing whatever clothing they feel fits their style or utility, without fearing judgement or being expected to wear something that looks a certain "way." 

We are a minority, after all, and we should really make an effort to include everyone who pedals (and certainly should not alienate them on the basis of what we feel they "should" be wearing... particularly for our own viewing pleasure.) 

Thanks for saying it, Michelle. I totally agree with and support 100% of what you've said here about this. 

Michelle Milham said:

I think too that we need to be careful about saying "ugh tragically chic women on expensive bikes" - that's pretty sexist too. Sorry to be the sexism police. 

   I think you guys are missing the point and are just patting yourselves on the back for wearing your 10 year old Champion sweatpants. I'd like to save the cycling fashion topic for another mildly offensive and sexist post. My point was that it's so dangerous on the streets here and the car drivers are so oblivious that you HAVE to wear safety gear. I'm not lamenting the lack of cycle model mom chic so much as the fact that it's too dangerous for cycle chic to even exist in the first place.

Prole? Troll?

Trolling prole?

You summed this up...beautifully.


Jeff Schneider said:

A small number of differing opinions on this appear her in the forum on a recurring basis.  Some are:

1) Cars are death machines.  Drivers are murderers.

2) We have no right to expect drivers to stop endangering us until ALL cyclists start obeying the rules of the road.

3) Only protected bike lanes can make us safe.

4) Protected bike lanes are actually dangerous.  Or, I am too athletic/cool to go slow behind a pack of commuters in a PBL.

5) Somebody hates Howard, Dug or Beezodog (Maybe some others, too.  Forgive me if I didn't mention you).

6) Drivers are not murderers, but they ARE oblivious and impatient (usually looking at the phone and in a hurry to get to the next red light).  They rarely desire to hurt anyone, but when faced with the choice of endangering a cyclist/pedestrian/driver/animal or slowing down for a few seconds, they will choose the former (This opinion is mine).

Jimmy Baham said:

   ...My point was that it's so dangerous on the streets here and the car drivers are so oblivious that you HAVE to wear safety gear..

  My lack of earnestness doesn't make me a troll.  I wanted to come out and list the reasons why biking here sucks so that the other members could counter and say why it doesn't suck or add to the list of reasons why it does suck. I find that once you lower your expectations enough then you can actually go out there and enjoy your ride.

Wolf-Pup said:

Prole? Troll?

Trolling prole?

I don't think that means what you think it means.  This would imply that you haven't been earnest, i.e. honest and/or truthful with any of your statements, and that you've been lying the whole time.  Troll on, liar.

Jimmy Baham said:

  My lack of earnestness



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