The Chainlink

I have a few I can name that I do my best to avoid ever riding on and last weekend, when I was outside of my normal riding area, I realized my knowledge is pretty limited so I thought I'd post this in hopes to start an ongoing thread of streets that are pretty miserable for riding a bike. 

To get it started...

  • Ashland Ave. - No bike lanes, speeding cars
  • Michigan Ave. - No bike lanes, speeding cars, tourists, gaggles of buses
  • Western Ave.  - Ashland but with cowboy hats ;-)

The other thread... What Are Your Favorite Chicago-Area Bike Lanes, Paths & Routes?

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I think it's way too scary for most people unless you're in a really large group - like a Critical Mass ride I did years ago where we came over the bridge and rolled in to Huck Finn Donuts on Archer.

130th Street, west of Torrence all the way to Indiana Ave, especially crossing I-94. Just lay in, hold your line, and blast, with a repeated head turn over the shoulder.

Yikes! Even for confident riders this one is nightmarish, between vehicle speeds, truck traffic, etc. 127th St. west of Indiana is almost as bad - fast as hell, but not as many trucks.

And 103rd isn't much better for the comparable segment. I'm looking forward the Big Marsh Connection Project that will hopefully give us some safe, quicker alternatives. I usually take Doty to Stony to 122nd to 126th and out over towards Indiana. Which feels better, but longer. Always the fun variable of street racers on Stony. 

103rd, hell no! I mean, I ride it occasionally, but it's a major detour coming from south Hegewisch and it's a balls out cannonball run through a minefield of potholes, rough road due to heavy truck traffic, and merging traffic entering and exiting 94. Again, not for the timid.

Pulaski from 115th to 63rd ain't that friendly either, particularly from 115th to Columbus after 3 pm when it's a trades-guys-with-white-pickups parade. Or Harlem from Forest Preserve Drive to Devon. Or the Pulaski bridge crossing the sanitary and ship canal. Or Cicero Avenue, anywhere.

So here's what's bike unfriendly:  Streets with the the bike lames that aren't plowed after the snow this week, all because they have those plastic bollard garbage so the city plows can't come through, and then the cross-walks are obscured, and the pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists all lose.  

The motorists lanes are already narrowed by the bike lames, and so now the CTA busses have a hard time getting through on time, so transit is even more delayed, making again the automobile the warmest, safest route for 5 months a year.  

Our trouble is that a handful of anti-automobile misfits masquerading as pro-cycling are messing up the morning and evening commutes for cyclists, motorists, transit riders and pedestrians alike. 

I'm fortunate in that as the office hierarchy goes, I get to decide for myself how much salt I want to get into my chain and bearings, and can instead sit all this out for a week or two if I want, so I can avoid the CDOT folly until the weather warms up.  But for everybody else, the hardships foisted on the folks lower rungs of the wage scale are pretty profound.  

It's as if a few folks at CDOT have friends thinking they'll do better selling fatty tire bikes.  Or friends who are orthopedic surgeons.  Certainly not the finest hour for bike lane "advocates" and their ilk. 


Please. Talk about hijacking a thread to rant on about your particular pet peeves.

This thread is about bike-unfriendly streets, and as another example these Clark Street conditions are bike-unfriendly.  So I suppose we can call impractical street designs that contribute to dangerous conditions for cyclists a pet peeve.

Another example from Clark Street:

In your original posting, you identified NO particular stretch of road but instead laid into "a handful of anti-automobile misfits masquerading as pro-cycling" and "It's as if a few folks at CDOT have friends thinking they'll do better selling fatty tire bikes. Or friends who are orthopedic surgeons. Certainly not the finest hour for bike lane 'advocates' and their ilk."

Furthermore, I seriously doubt the piling up of the traffic consequences you describe in your second sentence due to bike lanes in general or specifically these admittedly ill-conceived bike lanes along Clark in Edgewater, which I personally loathe and refuse to use even when there's not a speck of snow on the ground.  

I agree 100% with ketoguychicago. Buffered bike lanes, please. 

While I am an advocate for bike lanes, and buffered bike lanes, in general, every winter I am reminded that the designated, separated bike lanes are often unpassable for long stretches after snowfall. In non-winter months, separated bike lanes are sometimes littered with glass and other unwelcome debris that doesn't get cleared out via a regular street-cleaning schedule since the lanes are, by definition separate. It takes a similarly separate and committed bike lane maintenance schedule to keep dedicated bike lanes safe and available to their full potential, and I haven't seen that commitment to 100% of Chicago's bike infrastructure.

I won't go full "STOP THE MADNESS, NO MORE BIKE LANES!!!!" (lol) on the forum, as I believe the benefits of bike lanes far outweigh the costs in terms of progressing and maintaining Chicago, or any metropolitan area for that matter, as a forward-thinking alternate transit welcoming city, but the downsides of bike lanes, especially during this time of year are a reality to be faced and considered.

Signed, a winter cyclist


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