Springtime in Chicago never seems to last long. Anyone who has spent a few months here — or hell, a few hours — knows what I mean. It’s more like a transition season, comfortingly tepid if a little wet. Warm enough to ditch the gloves, but your bike seat won’t be scalding hot after two minutes in the sun. And brief. Oh, so brief.
To be fair, shifting gears from hermetic couch potato to outdoorsy fitness queen can be a bit rough on pretty much all the senses, even for us habitual bike commuters. You could be forgiven for needing some extra enticements. How about five new, local, bike-friendly projects?
New Lakefront Trails
There’s nothing like finding yourself on a fresh, newly paved and painted stretch of lakefront trail. I experienced this the other day when the path I was on veered to the left and I was funneled away from a large family for some extra smooth, child-free riding.
You may have noticed that separate bike and pedestrian-only paths are cropping up at various points along the trail. The city is about halfway through a vast lakefront construction project. Similar changes are planned for sections of trail from Montrose all the way to 71st Street. Many are aimed at separating the cyclists from the foot traffic, which normally requires some navigation and can result in accidents. In other words, a win-win for everyone.
OK, there is no “flyover bridge.” Yet. But how cool does this sound: a massive, raised path that will allow cyclists and other pedestrians to avoid the congestion around Navy Pier.
If you’ve been in that area in the last year, you’ve probably noticed a partial bridge winding up to the sky, right about where all the puddles and tourists converge. Slated for completion later this year, the bridge has more than logistics in its favor. Like the 606, there will be a soft surface on either side of the asphalt path for joggers. For now, it’s hovering mid-construction somewhere near Grand Avenue. A sign of future things to come?
Chicago Bike Week 2018
Prizes, rooftop parties and reduced carbon footprints, oh my! You and your co-workers have another reason to start commuting to work: to prepare to kick some rival biker butt during The 2018 Bike Commuter Challenge held in June. Every year, competing workplaces vie for the top slot in their category by getting the most employees to bike to work. It can take a while to get the hang of the whole bike-to-work thing, between figuring out your attire and choosing the best route. Get acclimated beforehand and the week-long event will feel like old hat.
Women of Chainlink Chicago
Ladies new to cycling or thinking of getting started can receive an extra boost of support: An online bike group for women launched late last year that provides members updates on events, clinics, products and races. Better yet, it gives local female cyclists a way to connect with one another offline.
Proposed 606 Extension
Good news for anyone who gets back and forth on the Bloomingdale Trail (a.k.a. the 606), as well as people like me who dream of an aboveground network to free us from the tyranny of stoplights. There might eventually be an elevated extension at the east end of the 606. It’s just one part of a plan to convert former industrial land along the Chicago River into, I guess, less industrial land.
Who knows if the proposed skate park, climbing wall, sledding hill, dog park and splash pool will actually happen—or even if they should. I felt a momentary twinge of excitement when I read “splash pool.” Then I realized it’s probably meant for sweaty dogs, not cyclists.
The extension is far from a sure thing. But if it ever comes to fruition, I say, go ahead. Jump in.