Chicago’s a great place to bike with kids

Bike riding is part of any all-American childhood, and fortunately we’ve got some great spots. We talked to mom Jane Healy, board president for the Active Transportation Alliance, about her tips for family bike rides and six route favorites.

Best places to ride

1. Lakefront Trail. “It’s kind of obvious …
(but) the views are spectacular.”
2. Erie Park. “Ride along the Chicago River until
you come to the housing development around Oak Street. … You
actually go underneath one of the drawbridges and can see all the
gears, (and there are) wonderful little restaurants and
3. Washington Park. “(It) can be really nice for
kids on bikes. There are a couple of streets running through there,
a couple of ponds, a couple of loops.”
4. Salt Creek Trail. “You can ride it right to the
(Brookfield) zoo, which is fun.”
5. Fox River Trail. “It doesn’t have a lot of
playgrounds, but it’s so beautiful…. You can stop and get something
to eat.”
6. Old Plank Road. “Start your ride by Lincoln
Mall (in Matteson); park in the Target and you can ride to
Frankfort. After five miles, stop and go the adorable ice cream
parlor (The Creamery).”

Have a fun destination. Healy suggests finding a playground or ice cream shop along your route.

Know their limits. Younger kids often think they can ride farther than they actually can. Choose a shorter, non-hilly route. And think about the wind: Healy says the prevailing winds usually move south in the morning and north in the afternoon. Be sure to bring a bike lock, so if you’re forced to abandon ship, your little rider can get a lift home and you can pick up the bike later.

Be prepared. Bring along snacks (granola bars, apples) and water, as well as sunscreen, bug repellent, large and small Band-Aids and a tube of antibiotic ointment. Since little kids get cold more easily, Healy says to be sure to bring a sweatshirt or dress them in layers.

Talk! “One of the joys of biking is you have conversations you wouldn’t have otherwise,” Healy says. With older kids, you can talk about local or natural history, while little ones can count how many other bikes you pass. “It’s a really nice bonding time,” Healy says.

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