I'm taking the Lakefront Path from the North most days. While I appreciate the bike lane on Randolph, the insane tangle of cars at Michigan/Randolph makes it hardly worth it.
I am curious if anyone takes the Riverwalk on a bike from the Lakefront Path to get around traffic? My destination is LaSalle/Madison, so I thought of heading on the Riverwalk to Dearborn or LaSalle and then going due south.
Does anyone do this? Is it possible?
Monroe to Michigan to Madison might be an option to consider? Michigan is often surprisingly ridable for a block or two to get to westbound street.
The Riverwalk is ridable, especially at the eastern end, but the further west you go, the more crowded it gets with pedestrians of the gawkery touristy type, understandably they are not going to be on the lookout for bikes. And then at Dearborn I think you'll have to schlep your bike up some stairs? Give yourself some extra time, give it shot and let us know how it went.
So I took the time to do this today because I was curious.
- it connected easily. No problem finding it.
- No cars. Like, seriously, none.
- Scenic. Lots of wide open views of buildings and bridges that you can't get if you go down the street. So more opportunities to daydream, people watch, etc.
- Tons of cafes etc that I had no idea were there.
- it's like biking on a sidewalk. I came through around 9.30, and it was filled with people going to catch their architecture cruise, or strolling or whatever. You won't go fast. (But... no cars.)
- it's like biking on a sidewalk. Tons of 90-degree angles, corners, etc. The main path is set along the bank, but then snakes around each of the bridges. So it makes you go at a walking pace to not smash into anyone.
-getting up to street level (wacker) isn't hard at LaSalle, as there is a switchback. But it's REALLY narrow, so you couldn't have two people on it at once. The alternative is to hike it up the stairs, which is not for everyone.
We'll see how it goes, but I think this is going to become my main route. Any time I can avoid cars, even if it means going slower, I'm OK with that.
Happy Path picture!
Dearborn would be the best option. I would avoid LaSalle St. There are simply to many buses on LaSalle, especially the accordion style buses. When they make right turns they have to swing wide left, and that requires a cyclist to weave out into the left traffic lane. I've biked it a few times as an alternative for Wells St, and have regretted it every time.
TANGENT: I agree that LaSalle for this question is probably not a great option. La Salle is bad north of City Hall or so, but south of Randolph at least during the PM rush, the outer lanes are essentially pick-up drop off lanes nearly always clogged up with taxis and ubers and the other parked/waiting vehicles. There is plenty of room to weave around them when necessary, and drivers don't expect to be able to use them so those outside lanes can be quite bike-able for the not-in-a-huge-hurry patient rider.
Maybe I'm in the minority here but of all the road users I think I trust CTA buses the most. They're big and scary but they're very predictable and the drivers are pros.
That said I once had a PACE bus pass a ~20 person group that was going about 25mph in a construction zone with less than 6 inches of clearance.
It's not that I don't trust the bus drivers, but rather the other drivers when you're forced away from the curb and out into the left lane of traffic.
Also, one can find themselves in a bit of a pickle with the big buses. I came up on one last Friday that was picking up passengers. The back of the accordion style bus was in the right lane, and the front was near the curb. I decided to so around it on the left, and as I was 1/2 by the bus it pulled from the curb. I would have thought that the driver would let me pass, but instead he's directly to my right, and I'm caught in no-man's land in the left lane. I kicked it in to high gear and was able to pass him in front, but it was a precarious position. In hindsight I should have stopped behind the bus and waited, but if you do that with every bus on LaSalle St you'll be there for a very long time.
+1 for LFT/Monroe/Michigan/Madison route.
coming from the south last year, I'd take the riverwalk from the LFT to its terminus (then at Lasalle, now at Lake) in the mornings then hustle up the stairs and take Wacker the 4 blocks. In the afternoons, I tried the riverwalk a couple times, but it was *way* too crowded with pedestrians. I'd basically end up kick-pushing the bike the whole way. Probably not so crowded in cold weather, though.
I ride LaSalle between City Hall and the river every day. You have to be careful weaving up to red lights because it can get pretty tight, but motor vehicle traffic generally is extremely slow in this stretch which makes for easy biking IME.
I take the entire left lane when the right lane is completely blocked by busses and trucks. If you're not willing to do that, then YMMV.
I'm against us cyclists taking the Riverwalk. I don't think it's illegal but the path is really designed for walking and people - many tourists - aren't expecting bikes. Unless you go off hours you'll be weaving in and out. There are many alternate ways to get to the loop that are frankly faster and just as safe.
I had time to kill on the way downtown for the Critical Mass ride in August, so I went down the Riverwalk. I was surprised how far it was extended - and the way to where the north-center-south branches of the river meet. However, on a Friday afternoon it was way to crowded and - like riding on a crowded sidewalk.
I wondered how I get out, but there is a nice long ramp near the end at Lake St and Wacker Drive. This doesn't help you much getting you where you want to go, Brian.