Hello Chainlinkers, I recently moved here to Chicago from a large east coast city between Philly and Boston with ample bike lanes and pedestrian plazas galore. This unnamed metropolis is known for it's aggressive driving, however most streets can accommodate bicycle traffic. Its seems here in Chicago traffic moves faster down narrower roadways and cars normally drive very close to the curb, leaving no room for a bike.
My question for the fellow forum members is what streets should be avoided? It seems like the diagonals are pretty good for biking, Clybourne Milwaukee, Elston ect. But most of the main North-South or East to West streets are just too fast and don't have enough of a shoulder. Drivers squeeze past you way too close. Not sure if they are actively trying to kill me or just unable to move over a bit and pass at a safe distance. I try not to ride in the door zone. On a separate note cabbies generally do give me enough room when they pass. Any comments or insight?
I am a cartographile and I still love old school paper maps, so I find the official city bike map to be invaluable, even after 3 years of biking here. Every spring, when the new ones come out, I get 3 copies: 1 for home and 2 to carry with me(1 to give away to "lost souls" I find in my travels). Older copies are still ok, and you can get them at almost every bike shop or order one for free from the city bike website( City of Chicago :: Bike Maps).The active transportation alliance (www.activetrans.org) puts out a really good guide/map for the greater chicagoland area. It costs $10, but is worth it (imo) for the map itself and to support a good organization.
As for new school tech options, I have found google maps to be ok but not great, and I have had issues with their android app. There are many smartphone apps for cycling with lots of bells and whistles, but if they are not specific to chicago, their maps and info can be unreliable.The best I've seen (but not used) was an Iphone app that colour coded routs for bike freindliness.
If your going from uptown to Evanston, don't take Sheridan. Its skinny, fast, bumpy crap. Now I take Clark and/or Lake Front Trail.