The Chainlink

Last Thursday I rode my Xtracycle to pick up a bike from a fellow near Portage Park.

On the way there, I rode west on Lawrence to Central, pretty much all the way from the channel trail. It was fine, but busy (this was around 6pm). On the way back, I wound up taking Montrose instead, more by mistake than on purpose. While Montrose wasn't officially a bike route, it was more pleasant than Lawrence - more residental, less traffic, etc. In fact, I found it better than Lawrence in almost every respect except for the fact that it lacked a bike lane.

Asking Google Maps to give me the best route by bike from Irving Park and Central to Montrose and California didn't even mention Montrose as a choice:

Is this typical?

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Google will alter their suggested bike routing with (enough?) feedback - I don't know how to give feedback, but it's there somewhere.

Skip Montanaro 12mi said:

Thanks for the responses. This discussion leads me to an inescapable conclusion: Bikies need to band together to create their own bike map. I don't have the Chicago Bike Map here at work, but I wonder if it simply identifies the streets where bike lanes or sharrows exist, ignoring possible good alternate routes.

Does anyone here know how to extend Google Maps? That is, mash up what Google Maps presents the user with other street-oriented path information. You could, for example, drop a yellow line down on a particular stretch of road to indicate that "it's fine for bikes, but not during rush hour". The Google Maps editing facility seemed particularly feeble to me when I looked at it months ago. You couldn't undo or snap your lines to the streets like you do in MapMyRide.

You can edit a street or path to make it a prefered bicycle route here:

It will also allow you to add paths that may not exist in the database. I've added a few short paths and sidewalks allowing only foot or bicycle traffic, but no cars.


David P. said:


Google will alter their suggested bike routing with (enough?) feedback - I don't know how to give feedback, but it's there somewhere.

This is the best cycling rating scale I have ever seen. Also, I agree Montrose and Foster are the best bets in that area (minus streets like Ainslie and Leland) 

David Barish said:

0= expressway   10= bike only lane with fairy dust and craft beer

Irving = 2



If you go farther north...



Skip's Xtracycle =11

Avoid Irving.  I live right off Irving and never use it.  Too dangerous.  When biking east or west I use either Montrose or Addison.  Safer, more scenic, and way less stressful.

From time to time I've offered feedback to Google Maps when I've seen it offer unsuitable bike routing. If you're inclined to do so, clicking the ? near the bottom right corner of the screen (new Maps interface) will get you "Send general feedback" as one of the options. You can use "Report a data problem" for things like incorrect one-way or two-way designation, street name error, etc. They don't always fix it quickly, but they do review the stuff we submit. I've seen changes after submitting bad routing or data errors.

I've report issues with suggested 'bike' routes to Google Maps and have received the below feedback so it appears they do hear and respond.  

I commute almost daily from Montrose/Pulaski to the LFP and find that Lawrence is a good route for me.  

From Google Maps"

"Hi Bill, 

Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right!

Pulaski comes up as an appropriate bike route. As an avid cyclist I would stay well away from Pulaski between Foster & Bryn Mawr. There is high speed traffic on Pulaski in this area. Kedzie, marked as a bike route, is a much more bike friendly street.

Thanks for helping us to improve Google Maps! "

Kimball is even better.

Montrose, no contest. Much calmer traffic. I like Wilson for some stretches as well.

Let us know when they quit "repairing" Lawrence between Ravenswood and Western.

Montrose all the way. I also tend to take Wilson if it's more convenient. I actively avoid Lawrence and Foster--too crazy. I've recently found Leland to be a good route east from the river.

A bit off-topic but I've started avoiding Kimball and Kedzie when I go north from Montrose--nearly every time I rode on them, some yahoo would yell at me, cut me off, or just generally be a dick. I now take side streets up to Belmont just to avoid the aggravation.

Lawrence stinks, even with a bike lane, Montrose is pretty good but a little dicey at times but for my money it's Foster. I use Foster both directions from Cumberland to Damen nearly everyday. Foster is the bees's knees!

I had a different experience. Biked  last night from Clark to Milwaukee at 5:00 and I found it okay until the rain. On the way home (on lawrence  from Milwaukee ave) even with the traffic - @ 9 pm - I found Lawrence a pretty comfortable ride. I love all the small independent stores on Lawrence...really has kept it's character.

Perhaps it's much rougher during business hours when you guys ride but I found with the bike lane I felt safe and could maintain a good speed.

Montrose is horrible for biking West of the Cicero.  There is no room for bikes.  Take Lawrence. Only the most self entitled cyclist would ride montrose there, take the lane, because it is "smooth".  I can't tell you how many cyclists do stupid things for no reason.   There is a bike lane on Lawrence for chrissakes. Less stop signs and lights too.  



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