One of my favorite things about raising kids in Chicago is the city’s dedication to improving biking for its residents. I’ve always loved to bike, but for the first 10 years I lived here I never felt safe doing it. Luckily, with the city’s investment in bike lanes and mapped-out routes, I feel that I can easily take my kids on a ride.
My 9-year-old loves to bike, too, and together we can get pretty much anywhere we need on two wheels. Since May is National Bike Month, I want to share some of my favorite city rides.
Bike the Drive
Sunday, May 24, 5:30 a.m., bikethedrive.org
Our favorite family biking activity in the city has to be the incomparable Bike the Drive. Once a year, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the city shuts down Lake Shore Drive to traffic and opens up 30 uninterrupted miles for bikers. The views are unbelievable, and so is the energy. Since we live on the North Side, we make it just about to the Loop, but I hear the South Side views are even better. Maybe this year. $47 for adults, $16 for kids 17 and under.
Horner Park route
cityofchicago.org, search keyword bike maps
Horner Park, on the city’s northwest side, boasts not only an amazing sledding hill in the winter, but some great city biking in the summer. We like to bike up California Avenue to get there. (California has a newly paved road, plus a new bike lane for easy travel.) Once at the park, you can do several loops on the 55-acre park past baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, playground, gardens and the newly renovated $6 million riverfront restoration project. A home run!
A secret place
Rockwell Street and Clark Park, between Melrose and Addison
Shhh, don’t tell, but just west of Lane Tech High School is a little forest, and in that forest is a homegrown BMX off-roading course for pros and amateurs—and kids like mine who just want a little adventure close to home. Tour the bumps in the woods or ride past along the North Branch of the Chicago River for a little scenic nature ride.