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.

Cons

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

Pros

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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Replies to This Discussion

Lowering your expectations? What were you expecting? The Yellow Brick road? You can't be oblivious while riding a bike in the city PBL or not. 

What roads have you taken? if you're thinking Western, North ave. Damen,Broadway/Sheridan... are going to be bike friendly they're not! The routes that are "friendly" to bikers are the ones with the most cyclists and drivers need to get used to sharing the road and taking into account for another variable.

How long have motorcycles been on the road? There's always some billboard or commercial on TV to be aware.

People are people and I find trying to get off the "el" during rush hour more confronting and aggressive than riding in the streets.

Jimmy Baham said:

  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?

michelle, good to see you on here! +1 on your comment.

Michelle Milham said:

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.

Chicago's fashion stylle is very utilitarian because you never know what kind of weather you will get and we dress accordingly. This also means that there are probably more "hard core" riders out there. That, to me, is way more chic, then spending boatloads of money on clothes that will get destroied in a little rain.
As for your other cons, I find it hard to believe that any other city in the us doesn't have those problems with the only exemption being that chicago has no real hills. So in effect you are saying that anywhere + bike = sucks.

Picture of OP:



Jimmy Baham said:

  

 

   In other cities people go out of their way to look dandy riding their bikes. 

Haha thanks Alex! Fancy meeting you here :P 

Alex Kim said:

michelle, good to see you on here! +1 on your comment.

Michelle Milham said:

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.

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