The Chainlink

Hi community!

I want to bike from the North Center neighborhood to Orland Park, but am unfamiliar with that area and unsure of a safe route. I know there is not a designated bike path to Oak Park, but I wonder if there is a safe, scenic and spacious route to my destination.

North Ave > 1st Ave > La Grange Rd has been recommended to me, but by a non-cyclist resident of Oak Park. Google Satellite shows me some questionable highway areas along this route, but I might be able to handle short stints of it.

Does anyone have any insight? Thank you!

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Take sides streets to Oak Park Avenue, Wrightwood is a good choice, pick it up my the Logan Square monument, then take Oak Park Ave south through Oak Park into Berwyn, take it to Riverside Dr which goes into Riverside, follow Longcommon Rd to downtown Riverside, then take Forest Ave west crossing 1st Ave where it becomes Washington Ave in Brookfield and again changes names to Harding Ave at which point you'll want to drop south into Western Springs.  This part of the route is a pretty good grid network so many options here.

Nice—thank you!
Is there any reason why I wouldn't take the more straight-shot route recommended to me?

Take a look on streetview.  I think you'll understand.  Those are heavy trafficked suburban arterials with no shoulders as far as I remember.  You would not want to be on those with a bike.

I'll be taking your route. Thank you much!

Because it is better suited to cars than bikes. I live in Avondale and usually take Belmont or Diversey over to Oak Park Avenue, but something like Wrightwood works fine, too.

Thank you!

Hey Jared—I want to thank you again for your advice. I took your route to Orland Park this morning and it went beautifully. There really is no bike-friendly way to the southwest suburbs, as I learned the roads are tight, but I felt comfortable with the areas you took me through. I'll be sharing this route with friends. Cheers!

Glad it was useful.  

Oak Park Ave looks nice south of Fullerton, but between Fullerton and Irving Park seems full of parked and moving cars. And it's off-center at North Ave (it snakes around). Plus, Logan/Wrightwood at Kedzie/Milwaukee is a terrible intersection. I'd avoid it.

I'd also avoid Wrightwood west of Kostner, as it's home to the world's largest collection of speed bumps (this is only slightly exaggerated).

Also, once you get out of Chicago, you realize many suburbs have terrible street lighting. Oak Park Ave in Berwyn is bad, but the absolute worst-lit town is Riverside. Avoid them. It's also easy to take the wrong road in Riverside and get lost (the street layout is insane).

There are many routes you could use. You could ride down Addison to Narragansett, or take Kedzie south, but once you get south of Belmont I'd go over to Kimball and take that to Wrightwood. 

But you don't have to take Wrightwood. You can go further south and take Armitage west. It goes as far as Laramie, then 2 blocks south is Bloomingdale.which goes much farther to the west. Before Laramie, traffic is often stopped at LeClaire, and you can take that south to Bloomingdale as well.

Bloomingdale west to 75th Court, south to North Ave., cross at Lathrop. South on Lathrop, you can go to Madison, or take a side street before Madison (like Vine) to Park, then to Madison, cross the railroad tracks, then go south to the parking lost, turn west to get to the Prairie Path. Take that west to 5th Ave (or a side street that goes to 5th Ave, like 4th Ave to Van Buren). You need 5th Ave, because it's the best way to cross the Ike Xpressway. Then side streets to 13th Street (east west street south of Roosevelt), west of 9th Ave. Take that west to 25th Ave. South on 25th Ave, you pass under freight tracks and under Cermak Road (it's faster). 25th becomes Kenman. It can get dark as you pass through the wooded area, but it's short. Kenman south to the end, then take the east-west street west, cross the tracks, go south under Ogden. Then you can turn west and take Hillgrove to Gilbert/Western Springs, or you can keep on going south to Plainfield, then take Plainfield west to Western Springs (it's faster).

Western Springs/Willow Springs Road/Flavin/104th Ave goes south to 131st Street.

You should try different routes to see which is best.

If you take Narragansett south, here's a trick. When you cross North Avenue, don't turn. Go south to the fence beyond the Deals parking lot. There's a gate. Open it and pull your bike into the alley. Take side streets south and west to Oak Park Ave. This avoids the terrible intersections of Oak Park/North and Ridgeland/Division.

Personally, I'd take Kostner south to Augusta, as it's a good route, although the nattering nabobs of negativity would imagine all sorts of terrible, untrue things happening.

Are you going to Orland Park or Oak Park? They are two very different locations so I just want to double-check. 

If you mean Oak Park, we have a great route in the resources section for "routes":

North Side to Oak Park - Brett Ratner

Orland Park. The friend I talked to lives in Oak Park, but knows the southwest area decently.

Thanks for clarifying. I don't have a route for Orland Park. Have you also tried to look at Google maps using the "bicycle" option? Usually it's pretty good at providing a few options and not steering you towards the expressways. 

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