Is Chicago becoming a city for cyclists? Sun-Times readers weigh in on why they’re biking more — or not

Amir Arnold rides a bike during a bike giveaway and bicycle safety camp event at Union Park in the West Town neighborhood, Saturday morning, Aug. 28, 2021. The giveaway was hosted by the 27th Ward.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

From an increasing amount of protected bike lanes to often-congested expressways, there are many reasons to ditch your gas-guzzling vehicle for a new mode of transportation. Biking, as a result, has grown in popularity throughout the city.

A recent study by the Chicago Department of Transportation says that bicycling has grown in Chicago faster than any other major city in America. In the last five years, the number of cycling trips taken in Chicago doubled despite major safety concerns with the city’s bike infrastructure in the past.

Question of the Day

Each weekday, the Sun-Times Afternoon Edition newsletter asks readers to offer their opinions and perspectives on key issues and life in Chicago. Here’s a selection of interesting responses to one of those questions. Sign up for Afternoon Edition.

With the numbers telling the story of cycling’s growth, we recently asked Sun-Times readers, “Do you ride your bike more often now than you did in previous years?” While some confirmed their increase in bicycling, others felt the opposite.

Here’s what they had to say:

“I’ve ‘rediscovered’ it in a sense. And it’s a lot more bike friendly now than it used to be. I often ride from Elmwood Park, Diversey and Harlem all the way down Diversey to the lake. Then you can ride the lakefront trail pretty darn far. I easily put it 50+ miles now when I go for a good ride.” — Brice Notardonato Ellett

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“Yes! During rush hour a bike is the fastest way to get across the city. Biking makes the whole city seem smaller and more accessible.” — Alex Nelson

“No, but only because I’ve been working from home since COVID. I was a regular bike commuter in the before times.” — Dan Korn

“Unfortunately, it’s not safe to bike in Chicago because most of our streets are designed for cars, not people. I know Chicago’s streets are not safe for cyclists like me because last fall a driver hit me from behind in the painted bike lane on Halsted and kept going. As a result, I was hospitalized for five days and had to undergo emergency surgery. Of course, I am angry with the driver, but mostly I am upset about a transportation system that prioritizes the convenience of the driver who nearly killed me over my safety as a cyclist. We need more people to ditch the cars for bikes to meet our climate goals and remain a world-class city. That means we need CDOT and IDOT to build physically protect bike lanes across Chicago, particularly on the south and west aides.” — David Teeghman

“Since I’ve retired I’ve been riding my bike (Harley Davidson) way more often. Sturgis bound once again!!” — Ronald Avina

“I rode to and from work, but now I’m retired and the commute is no more.” — Mary Jane Tala

“Yes. I don’t have a car, so I rely on CTA and my bike to get around. CTA service has been unreliable since the pandemic hit, so I have turned to biking more, year round. Last year, I also started commuting to the loop with Bike Grid Now’s bike bus (a critical mass sort of group). I never felt safe commuting to the loop on my bike before I joined the Bike Grid Now group. There is power in numbers.” — Hanan Malik

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“Yes. Because I moved to the suburbs where I am closer to trails and forest preserves. Feel much safer now.” — Scott Cowan

“Yes … Mostly for exercise and to take in the scenery…The traffic jams are picturesque!” — Kevin Sheridan

“No, [I] left Chicago in 2014 for the quiet country life in Michigan, crazy what no traffic and noise does for your mental health.” — Lane Woody

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