When I bike to work and back, I need to cross the Des Plaines River, I usually use Belmont ave, the only other ways are, Lawrence ave, Irving Park and Grand ave for me. reason I ask is, there is always heavy traffic, no bike lanes and driver pass very close and also no sidewalk or dirt path. Lawrence ave is probably the least busy, but long ride thru forest preseve area and at night very dark, beside going out of the way. Irving Park is out of the question, very high speed traffic and very long section thru forest preserve. Grand ave is also very busy, but there is a sidewalk where all the other do not have.
I start work at 2:30pm and get off at 11:00pm, and every other week I start 6:00pm and get off 2:30am on Mondays and Tuesday. I really like riding home at 2:30am, hardly anyone around except when I cross the Des Plaines river on Belmont, there always seem to be a half dozen cars around.
Hiya, Jerry !
First of all, I hope you are well lit with lights (blinkies and steadies) and are wearing lots of reflective/hi-viz stuff ? ( I am rocking 2 red blinkers for the rear-1 x Planet Bike on my trunk & 1 Axiom tail light on my helmet; and for the front: 3 Blinkers-1 x Bell "Target special" on left side near brake lever, 1 x Mako - 200 Lumen headlight on left side of headset, and 1 x Axiom head light on my helmet; not to mention the Enegergizer 185/45-60 Lumen Flashlight zip-tied to the right side of my headset, and a Nebo 1 AA flashlight on my helmet under the axiom)
Second, I would take the one with the sidewalk. That way, if you need to bail, you can drop onto the "relative" safety of the sidewalk.
Or, if the sidewalk is clear of most debris, take the sidewalk for that stretch of your route. Also, take into account the conditions of the sidewalk (lots of missing chunks, exposed rebar, etc)
Also, it depends on what you are riding and what type of wheels. MTB wheels (knobbies) tend to be a bit more forgiving with most of the litter/debris for me. My 700's are a bit more finicky though (might be the way I ride...LOL).
Of course, a lot of people have been telling me about Schwalbe Marathons and the Plus models for less flats. So you can think about those as well.
This is just my opinion and what I would consider and do.
Good luck and be safe.
I ride an MTB with Continental Town and Country tires. only had 3 flats in the last 2 1/2 years. I guess really Belmont is the only way thru the forest preserve. The bridges at Belmont and Grand are fairly new, with new side walks. Lawrence and Irving Park is long, dangerous fast traffic and at night very dark and gotta ride on the street.
I hookup to Belmont from Forest preserve drive to cross the Des Plaines river and River road, gotta to watch the 40 mph traffic coming from west bound Belmont. Grand is ok, gotta use the narrow sidewalk and navigate getting across River road,avoiding street light and incline, curvey sidewalk.
My commute is takes about 2 hours one way(18 miles from Andersonville to Franklin Park), I work from 2:30pm to 11:00pm and every other week on Monday and tuesday 6pm to 2:30am. Sometime I wish I get off 2:30am all the time, cause that is one of the best time to commute, no traffic except on Belmont at River road, and they are always traveling fast and pass you within 3 feet.
As far as lights go, I have 2 cateyes blinking on the front and a cateye ld1100 on the back. I can also use a Niterider 250 on the front, but that is really bright.