Below is everything you need to know about getting around safely and comfortably on two wheels. You can also view our Everyday Biking guide here.
And be sure to check out this wonderful winter biking gear guide by our friends at Kozy’s. You'll be all set to roll in the cold!
PLEASE NOTE: Your safety is our number one concern. Please do not ride in dangerous weather conditions.
You and Your Bike
The Winter Bike Challenge is the best way to celebrate winter bike commuting in Chicagoland. The Challenge is from January 15-22, but start getting prepared now. Here are a few easy ways to get your bike and yourself ready to ride.
- Don't be in the dark when riding at night. Use lights - it's the law. Click here to see why it's so important.
- Flat tires suck - carry a spare tube, mini pump and a patch kit with you, just in case.
- Fenders can help keep snow/slush and mud off of your clothes and bike.
- Use a quality lock. Bike racks or old parking meters are always your best bet for locking up. Click here for a helpful video on locking your bike properly.
- Know your ABCs? Click here for an easy way to be sure your bike is safe to ride.
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet! Click here to see how it should look.
- An ankle strap - available at any bike shop - will prevent your pants from getting greasy and getting caught in the chain.
- Be sure to dress appropriately for cold weather. Click here for what to wear from head to toe. You can also view a helpful video here.
- CTA, Pace and Metra all allow bikes! Click here to learn how to take your bike on public transit. This link is broken
After making sure that you and your bike are ready, the next step is finding the ideal route. There are a variety of ways to find the best route for you:
- The Chicago Bike Map / Chicagoland Map (this link is broken) will reveal the closest bike lanes and recommended streets for cycling.
- Plan your route with www.goroo.com or another multimodal trip planner like Google Maps.
- Ride with a friend: share routes, pass the time and have each other's back!
- Reach out and find new friends to ride with:
- Try the cycling community - we're online: www.activetrans.org, www.thechainlink.org and many more.
- Twitter: @activetrans @activetransLFT @chicagocyclists @thechainlink.org
- Facebook groups: People Who Ride Bikes, bikeommuters.org
- Pace Ride Share matches bike riders! Login today and set up your profile: www.pacerideshare.com
The following advice will help you keep the rubber-side down:
- Map out your route using the Chicago Bike Map, Chicagoland Bike Map, Google Maps or Goroo.
- Remember: "same road, same rules." Read Illinois' Rules of the Road here and Bicycle Rules of the Road here.
- Chicago law prohibits anyone over the age of 12 from riding on sidewalks (unless it is a marked bicycle route). If you do use the sidewalk, walk your bike. Click here to see why.
- Use the proper hand signals, and practice communicating with motor vehicle traffic. You can practice by riding on side streets to gain confidence. Click here to see a video on riding in traffic safely.
- Avoid the door zone - that space next to parked cars where the door swings open. This is the most common kind of bicycle crash. While motorists are responsible for not opening the door into the path of traffic (including bicyclists), you should still ride defensively by staying outside the door zone.
- Light up! Chicago law requires a front light and rear reflector when riding after dark. We highly recommend bright lights on both ends. Click here to see why lights at night are so important.
Although crashes are rare, they do happen. Active Transportation Alliance operates a free crash-support hotline with help in filing reports, legal referrals and guidance on insurance questions: reach us at www.activetrans.org/crashsupport or call, 24 hours, 312-869-HELP (4357).
Here are some items you should have on the ride:
- A properly fitted helmet - click here to see what it should look like.
- Personal identification