Tuesday, April 29, 2008

If I Were a Bike...

(Chicago Critical Mass - April 08)

If I were a bike, I wish I lived in Chicago.

Spent a few days up in Chicago for some business and got the chance to take in the sights and sounds of the Windy City.
What grabbed my attention as I was riding in a taxi from Midway down Lake Shore Dr to my hotel up on Michigan Avenue?
Was it the famed Soldier Field? Nope.
The skyscrapers that dotted the skyline? Nope.
The museums? The shopping? Nope.
The greenish/blue color of Lake Michigan? Nope.
It was the amount of bike commuters found in the city. As I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic with taxi cabs blowing their horns, I counted over 50 cyclists that passed my idle butt over a few city blocks.

Chicago has this whole "green" thing down. It's not a trend as other cities are starting to adopt, it's a way of life. Spending 45 minutes in a cab to go 8 miles like my taxi ride, is not the most efficient way of travel in this city. Getting on your bike and utilizing the hundreds of miles of bike lanes and paths the city has developed is the way to travel. Yes, HUNDREDS! As of 2006, Chicago surpassed the century mark of bike lanes within the city. That's a far cry from my current city where there's about 4 miles of bike lanes. The mayor (Daley) is a roadie and has stated, "My goal is to make the City of Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the U.S." It looks like he's well on his way of doing that.

I had some hours to kill so I went down to Bobby's Bikes and rented a cruiser for a few hours (the fixies/ss were still boxed up and were about to be built). I biked up and down Lake Shore path on a beautiful morning. Sure I felt like a touron who rents a bike at the Oceanfront boardwalk and tries to pass as a local but I didn't care. I saw cyclists of all shapes and sizes. The bikes ranged from beater bikes who's chains were screaming to be lubed to a Look 585 with Zipp 404s and the cyclist in full team kit. Pistas to Pinarellos.

I spoke with the guy at the bike shop and was talking about how great the cycling vibe was in the city. He told me the monthly Critical Mass has over a thousand cyclists and even gets a police escort. Not many cities would do that for cyclists. I flew out Friday but would have loved to rent a bike and rode in thier Critical Mass.

If you're ever in Chicago, I recommend getting a bike to rent for a few days and explore the city.

And if you ever wondered if you had a twin somewhere, I found Dinsey's red-headed twin in Chicago.

All photos courtesy of Donsorsa.


Karen said...

Hey Albe: Not only is the city both bike and runner friendly, it is also amazingly clean. I get out there for mediations a few times a year, and have run all over. Its incredibly rare to even find a cigarette butt. And those bike paths seem to parallel every road.
I'll stay here though, Chicago in the winter... nuf said!

Jennifer Shockley said...

If I were a Bike....

I'd be a DirtyBike :)

Liz Schleeper said...

Hi, yes, I agree, seems to be a great cycling city. I am going to be there for 7 wks this summer w/ 2 bikes!