I am soon going to be doing allot more riding downtown. All over the loop area. It is going to be very different from what I am used to. Any tips for me?
Pedal hard my friends,
Use the bike lanes, especially Dearborn, but don't be lulled into a false sense of security; watch for turning traffic, into and out of alleys.
Make yourself visible. Maintain your line; don't weave in and out of parking lanes.
Be prepared to take (and hold) the lane, especially when coming up on buses or right-turning traffic lines. This will make it easier to pass on the left.
And try not to react to the occasional road rage directed at you. I find it better to smile and let it roll of my back than to feed the argument.
My two cents: for riding northbound or southbound, it is worth going several blocks out of your way in order to use Dearborn. The Dearborn protected bike lane is totally awesome and transforms the experience of biking through the loop. I work on LaSalle but I take Kinzie over to Dearborn in the mornings just so I can take Dearborn over the river and through the loop. It's really great. But, if you're going to be riding "all over," I think you'll quickly get a feel for which streets you prefer. I've seen many on here say that State is surprisingly good for biking because the buses slow everything down so you don't get cars speeding at 45 mph.
In town at intersections never pass stopped traffic on the right without having a plan in case someone makes a right turn or opens a door. Bike lane or not you are in a blind spot and don't expect anyone you are overtaking to see you. Don't weave around through stopped traffic like a drunken sailor, either. You never know when a light will turn green and screw up your slalom.
I ride down State Street a lot in the morning and it's very nice, but you need to be aware that buses need the right lane so it's actually better to stick to the left side of the right lane, like a motorcycle, or sometimes the right side of the left lane. This lets buses do their business to the right and sometimes pass you briefly as there's a stop at every other intersection. You also stay mostly out of the way of through traffic in the left lane, that will be passing on your left. In the afternoons I generally avoid it and use Dearborn.
Madison west of Wacker past the expressway is chaos - bike lane disappears, buses, cabs, peds rushing for train stations, car commuters racing for the expressway make that stretch very scary IMO. Use Randolph instead if you need to get over to the West Loop. Washington is not too bad for eastbound into the loop.
Agreed except that stretch where you go under the overpass freaks me out!
Grace Van Moer 8.25 mi said:
Washington is not too bad for eastbound into the loop.
I don't do a lot of riding downtown, but be very aware that there are a lot of one way streets. Try mapping your routes and knowing your way around.
Oof, yes. Don't salmon around, particularly under the el on Wabash.
You'll find your way and what works for you. It can be a little overwhelming at first but you'll get used to it.
Oh and don't mess around with Wacker. I always wait for the light to turn green before I cross it.
The two most important things I have learned since becoming a "full-time" road cyclist at the beginning of the year:
1. If a lane is too narrow to fit you and a car, ride near the middle of it so cars don't feel invited to squeeze by.
2. NEVER get emotional no matter how much motorists intimidate you. Doing so will cause you to make poor decisions which can put you in serious danger.
Also, have a sense of pride in what you're doing and know your riding will help influence others to ride like those who influenced you. You are doing a good thing :)
Wear a helmet, watch out for the cabs and texting zombie hordes, and always be prepared to stop.
Go with the flow. Don't run any lights, it's too dangerous and not worth it. And don't salmon.
Do try some different routes, as another person said, you'll find your way.