My brief trip to Chicago this weekend made one thing clear: Bicycles now inhabit the urban roads of the Windy City unlike any other area I have experienced. Having just purchased a bike myself, at first I attributed this observation to my new, heightened awareness of bikes altogether. However, as time progressed, I realized the trend was undeniable.
Chicago does boast that it became "green before it was cool," and its embrace of the biking community further verifies its place at the forefront of green practices. Whether consciously improving air quality or simply hoping to reduce frustrating rush hour traffic, Chicago is holding its own in the movement. Career people can be seen commuting to and from work.
Many citizens utilized baskets and made efficient runs to nearby grocery stores. Others, likely tourists, even rented bicycles at Navy Pier and enjoyed a self-led tour of sightseeing.
It is clear that Chicago has taken steps to accommodate and ensure the safety of bike transportation, as bike lanes have become common, especially skirting the roads that provide access to the downtown area. My visit also coincided with the Bank of America's Bike the Drive
event to benefit the Active Transportation Alliance, a biking, walking, and transit advocacy group. The event encouraged participants to "ride for miles in a bicycle utopia" by "biking on a car-free Lake Shore Drive."
A similar form of activism is carried out in the form of a Critical Mass
, which coincides with the nationwide movement, occurring on select Fridays throughout the year. With such enthusiasm for the sport developing, it seems likely that bicycle commuting will become increasingly commonplace. And the "greenest" way to get in on the trend? Buy a used bike from a local retailer like the one pictured below, which I found near downtown.