5 Reasons to Bike in Chicago

We hit 70 degrees yesterday in Chicago.  It's March, the snow has melted (most of it), and we're starting to actually see people outside again.  We've made it through another Chicago winter… high-fives!

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My favorite part about this time of the year is getting back on my bike.  I commute by bike for about ten months out of the year.  I’ve always loved being on my bike, and I’m lucky to be able to live in a city where bike commuting is growing and respected (at least for the most part).  I personally think biking is the best way to get around Chicago.  We have a growing number of bike lanes throughout the city and the number of bike commuters are increasing every year.  If you’re considering commuting by bike, here are 5 reasons you should start now!

1.  It’s good for you.

One of the biggest perks of biking is that it’s good exercise.  This is pretty obvious, but it’s worth mentioning.  Not only is biking good for you, but it FEELS good.  Any day I decide not to bike, I always regret it.  There’s no better way to start the day than by hopping on a bike and getting a bit of excercise.  You’ll find your a lot more energized once you arrive to work after a bike ride.  Ending the work day with a pedal home is also a great way to blow off some steam.

2.  It’s easy on your wallet.

Used under Creative Commons courtesy of Will VanLue

Used under Creative Commons courtesy of Will VanLue

Another reason I love to commute by bike is that it is cheap.  I’ve heard many people say “I can’t afford a bike”.  It’s hard not to laugh at such a comment.  You can get a decent, functioning bike for $200-$500.  That’s a monthly car payment for many people.  Once you have your bike, it doesn’t take much to maintain it.  Once a ear I’ll get a tune-up, and all in all, I’m spending around $150 per year on my bike.

3.  It makes you feel like a kid again.

Remember the first time you took off on your bike, no training wheels and no one else with you?  For me, that was one of the most freeing experiences of my life.  To this day, I get little flashbacks of that sense of freedom when I’m on my bike.  When you commute by bike, you’re on your own schedule - no waiting for buses or trains, taxis etc.  You’re also much less affected by heavy traffic on a bike than you are driving a car.   This brings me to my next point…

4.  Biking is fast.

I’ve biked across the city the same time my friends were driving the same route and beat them to our destination.  Not because I’m a fast biker (ok, sometimes I do give it a little extra gas) but because driving comes with so many other obstacles.  While cars are stuck in a traffic jam, I’m passing them at 15-20 mph in the bike lane, traffic free.

5.  Everyone is doing it.

used under Creative commons courtesy of John Sonderman

used under Creative commons courtesy of John Sonderman

Ok, not everyone… BUT, Chicago’s biking infrastructure is growing at a rapid pace.  With over 200 miles of bike lanes - many protected lanes - and 300 Divvy stations (Chicago’s shared biking initiative), biking in Chicago has never seen a better time.  And things are only looking up.  Divvy plans to continue to expand in 2015, and bike lanes continue to be installed across the city.  

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, and a healthier lifestyle, give biking a try!  Start slow, learn the laws, wear a helmet, and most importantly, be safe!  Chicago’s annual Bike Week will be held June 12-19.  Learn more about this celebration of cycling in Chicago!