The Chainlink

What's your favorite stealth bike route or other Chicago biking secret?

Did you that you can skip the crowded (in summer at least) Lakefront Trail and get from Belmont to Foster almost entirely on little-traveled paths paths, many of them unpaved, with even better views of the lake?

And did you know there's a four-mile route encircling Lake Calumet on the Far South Side with almost no motorized traffic and a country-road vibe, with six-foot-tall cattails and high green hills (of sodded-over landfill)?

For a magazine article, what are your favorite little known cycling routes and ways to escape the hustle-bustle of the city's most commonly-traveled bikeways?

And do you know any other Chicago cycling secrets, like bike shops that have unique features or fascinating local cyclists who should be well-known but aren't?

Thanks!

John Greenfield

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I'm guessing that there are no secret routes. Pretty much anyone with a shred of curiosity who finds herself riding a route more than a few times in Chicago will seek the most pain free way to do it.

Three alternative routes I frequently use are:

1. the well known Oakley route often referred to as "the hipster highway" as a way to travel between the south the north sides without suffering the atrocious Damen viaduct or the appalling Damen bridge. It requires veering onto and off Western a couple of times, but Western is either super wide for those stretches, or the east sidewalk is generally devoid of pedestrians and storefronts - so despite being illegal, it is perfectly ok to ride on (cautiously of course). But watch out for broken glass especially between 18th and Ogden.

2. Loomis! again not a secret, but I'm alway surprised that Google's bike directions will always send a person up Archer all the way over to Canal or Halsted. Archer is totally treacherous with dozens of places where the outside lane of the four lane street temporarily disappears into a parking chokepoint. That combined with some very fast driving - encouraged by the width of the road along most of its length make for some very scary biking. I get off that thing as early and often as possible. I find Loomis->Blue Island a much more pleasant way to get downtown from the southwest side than the dreaded Archer.  As a bonus, when going southwest, you get a rare opportunity to take a fast 90 degree right turn after a bit of a hill if you cut west on Eleanor right after crossing the Loomis bridge over the river.

3. Plymouth! It only gets you off State St for a mile or so, but from 15th all the way up to Jackson or so, it is pretty much a car free route passing through some parks and Printer's Row, a quiet neighborhood and past a hidden gem Indian restaurant http://www.curryhouseonline.com/.

Tony,

These are great, thanks!

Any one else have suggestions?

John

Its not really accessible to the general public, but there is an access road from lake street through union station all the way down past 18th.  I use it a lot during rush hour when Im leaving work to avoid traffic. Its not the best paved road and you have to cross over numerous live tracks.

Cool! Thanks Jen.

Cool, Jen.  Can you see it on aerial maps?  I'm looking at Google Maps, and I see something labeled Lumber St running south from Roosevelt Rd down to 18th & beyond.  North of Roosevelt it seems to turn into an unnamed access road along the tracks that disappears under the post office.

Even if that's the route you're talking about, now I can't wait to ride Lumber St.  Never would have known about it had you not posted - Thanks!

Belmont to Foster?  I wonder if you are referring to the path that, last I checked, looks like this: 

Yep, come to think of it I was vaguely aware this path is out of commission, but hopefully this will be re-built next spring.

Hi- We have a Good Routes page on our blog that I haven't had time to curate much this year. John kindly left a route on it last year after I left a thread up here. There are a couple of nice routes on it: chicargobike.blogspot.com. I know many of us ride Hubbard and Fulton as I always wee others on it as I commute. As we mention often on our blog we love Peoria in the West Loop. Good for families as the stops are all four way and with lights. Most of our fave routes are anchored by four way stops and lights especially when we are traveling with our bike train or with our guys. Hope that some great routes appear here John! J.

Ah yes, the McCormick Place busway! Perfect.

Cameron Puetz said:

There's a similar road running in the South Shore's right of way from Millennium Station to McCormick Place.

hubbard!  its such a clear route between western and milwaukee.  its wide, barely traveled by vehicle. there is some truck traffic, but they are generally stationary or slow moving, and crossing ashland is a bit of a bitch.

but im really surprised that most of hubbard isnt labeled as a bike route, and im not sure how many people know about its existence.

you also get to pass fun murals along the rail line.

Good one, thanks!

ill also add that i contacted, CPD, 311, Alderman Burnett's office, and CDOT about issues at the intersection at Ashland and Hubbard.  Basically, there is a crosswalk, a bus stop. Northbound traffic constantly blocks the intersection when there is a red at Grand, and they dont observe the crosswalk and have little regard for crossing traffic.  its common to get caught in the middle of the northbound/southbound/turning lane traffic.

this seems to be an issue only at evening rush hour.

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