I'm looking for some route advice from Villa Park to down town.
Wrightwood sucks. Way too many speedbumps. Dangerous intersection at Kedzie. And why go so far out of your way? Any route can be 'unsafe' if you happen to be unlucky (wrong place/wrong time).
You can take the Prairie Path, but there are some streets, like 25th Ave, that don't have lights or curb cuts and are difficult to cross. Also, the path encourages you to speed, but there are several street crossings that make that problematic.
Alternative: Take St. Charles Road to 5th Ave, then go north. Take side streets (but not 1st Ave) to Lake and 1st Ave. Take Lake street east to Harlem, then go south to North Blvd. (you don't have to take Harlem south. Go east of Harlem to the parking lot, then go south thru the parking lot). North Blvd east to Oak Park Ave or Euclid, then south to South Blvd (too many lights on Lake between Harlem & Oak Park). (Note: On the way back west, take South Blvd to Harlem, then Harlem north to Lake. If you don't mind riding on the sidewalk, take Harlem north to Central and go west on Central's north sidewalk).
Anyway, back to the eastern route: Take South Blvd to where it becomes Lake, then Lake Street east (there's a bike path there. Watch for glass). Take Lake as far as you need it. If going north of downtown, take Fulton east to Racine, then go north and take Hubbard east, then Grand. If going south, take Racine to Washington or another east bound street. On the way back west, take Randolph.
If you're in south Villa Park, take 56 (Butterfield) east to where it ends, then go north to St Charles Road.
This is great. Thanks for writing out all of the options.
I don't like Lake Street at all because of the glass. My routes is prairie path to Mannheim. Maywood/Madison to 19th (lots of glass on the prairie path between) then prairie path 1st. Cross the Des Plaines by the court house (easily the safest crossing of the river). Head north to Jackson then eastbound on a very nice/clean road to Austin. Don't go further east because after that Jackson suck. North to Madison - go all the way in or move a block north at Pulaski since the Madison bike lane stops there but there is a bike lane at at Washington.
If you are in Villa Park I strongly recommend the prairie path for getting by 83 and the expressways.
If you go that route you may see me.
How long of a ride is this for you?
Thank you all for the great info.
If you're near the Prairie Path in Villa Park you should take it. But you shouldn't go out of your way to ride it as that makes for a longer journey. There is some traffic on St Charles Road near Rt 83 but I don't think it's that bad. Although I'm only familiar with the evening traffic there, not the morning version. But I have ridden many times east on St Charles Road from Elmhurst and didn't have any problems.
I have a few issues with the Prairie Path. It's 'crushed gravel' in DuPage County (give me a paved road any day). You have to cross streets (side streets, mostly, yes, but they still have traffic). So when you approach a street with a car traveling down it, do you cross? Will the car stop when it sees you? Should you speed up to beat it? Is there another car coming from the opposite direction? Whereas, on a street like St Charles Road, any car that approaches from a side street will stop at the edge of the intersection. It's easier to manage. Plus, there's the terminus. The PP ends at Van Buren (not Jackson). Van Buren there is one way, west. So to get to Jackson you'd have to ride the wrong way, past the CTA buses, go down a hill, then turn and go up a hill while avoiding traffic on DesPlaines traveling to and from the expressway. Not good. In addition, Jackson in Oak Park has these 'bumpouts' at intersections that narrow the street. It's a dumb route.
There may be glass on Lake Street, but you can go around it. Lake Street has less traffic than Madison. Madison Street has more traffic, plus buses that get in the way. And Washington has a bike lane, but there are a lot of stop lights between Western and Ashland.
If you do take the Prairie Path, it sort of 'ends' at Butterfield (There they expect people to take side streets to Mannheim, then rejoin the Path as it travels thru all of those street crossings in Bellwood and Maywood. It also goes further south. I don't see the point of it).
So take Butterfield northeast instead, then go north to St Charles Road.
It is not that difficult to get up to Jackson from DesPlaines, Lake Street has a lot of evening traffic that may make it a lot of work to avoid the glass. I say no to Lake Street under all circumstances. Just way too much glass. By the way the side streets to Mannheim make it a lot less stressful. I have found crossing the Des Plaines river on St. Charles to be stressful because I have had cars try to shoulder me of the road.
I'm very comfortable with Jackson and have always been shown respect by motorists.
And rather than calling routes dumb let's leave to the OP to decide. You don't like Jackson, I don't like Lake. We each have our own reasons and neither id dumb.
I have ridden St. Charles many times but I tend to avoid it west - those are my cycling preferences/
You can't cross the DesPlaines River on St. Charles Road. St. Charles ends at 5th Avenue.
You must be confusing it with another street.
Riding the side streets around Mannheim is less stressful. But then I consider Madison in that area as a side street. However, I take Madison to go home, not to go downtown. Madison is not so great for that.
And riding past buses entering and exiting a terminal, then trying to cross a street with fast-moving expressway traffic or, the alternative, making a sharp turn to go up a hill on a sidewalk with pedestrians to a stoplight that takes FOREVER to change (not even considering the way Jackson sashays south and north in Oak Park, along with those bumpouts that push me into the traffic lane) to be not smart, and therefore dumb.
By the way, for those unfamiliar, the Lake Street we're speaking of is the bike lane on Lake Street in Chicago, which runs from just east of Central to Damen. The Lake street in the suburbs does not have glass. As I said, you can go around the glass. Sometimes there's even a parking lane you can use.
I ride Lake west-bound out to OP daily, and I tend to agree it's the preferred route of many that do so.
That said, I'd highlight for anyone reading this and considering taking the route that the shear volume of glass in the Lake Street bike lane means you will very likely get a flat if you take this route with any regularity and do not have a bike equipped with VERY flat-resistant tires (like gatorskin or marathon plus level protection). It's literally like people have a glass-breaking party in between Cicero and Damen every night. And the City essentially not sweeping the (somewhat) protected lane for months on end doesn't help.
You are correct. At 5th or before you have to move north to Lake. For some reason Jackson doesn't bother me the way it does you. Maybe it's because I'm riding at 6 in the morning and there is very little traffic. As the post below states, I just had to stop Lake because of the glass which you can't really avoid when cars start taking both lanes. Overall I would say that GOOD choices across the Des Plaines rive and Rt 83 are few and far between.
I never ride Desplaines Avenue at 6AM. Maybe it is clear. I've seen it plenty of times at rush hour (when traffic is backed up from the expressway to the viaduct) and other times of the day/night, when traffic speeds down Desplaines between Harrison and Jackson.
Lake Street is good for crossing the Des Plaines River because it's adequately lit, has good road surface and traffic is relatively low. Chicago Avenue over the river has poor lighting. Washington Blvd has poor road quality and NO lights. Madison Ave and the Prairie Path over the river are okay, but then where do you go?
Also, puncture-resistant/thorn-resistant inner tubes are available (even though some bike shops feel the need to try to talk me out of them. WHY do they argue? Just DO IT! They can be so annoying!)
i occasionally commute from Humboldt Park to Downers (am out, pm back in). not all of my route would overlap with yours, but i rode kedzie south to franklin, west on franklin to central park south. through garfield park to washington, then washington all the way west into Oak Park.
Once in OP, south on East (or one of it's eastern parallels) to Cermak where you hit Riverside Drive/Longcommon all the way to Forest/Washington/Harding westbound to the Salt Creek Path. That takes me over to York rd, and then the 31st street pathway to the office. Reverse is exactly the reverse.
Washington on the west side to me was easier than Lake mostly due to presence of bike lanes, lack of broken glass and the noise of the trains overhead. I'd try taking the prairie path to forest park, neighborhood streets up to Washington and then that all the way in.