My girlfriend and I wanted to bicycle from Oak Park to Logan Square. We chose to head up Ridgeland/Narragansett to Diversey because Diversey has a bike lane. It worked out well. However, I don't want to head that far north all the time. In your experience what are the best/safest routes into the city by bicycle?

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Probably the one you took. I don't think it would be wise to ride a bike on Division or Chicago as neither of those streets qualify as "safe" in my book. Lake Street under the El doesn't seem too bad, but it certainly has it sketchy parts.

Ultimately I guess it depends on how fast you can pedal! :)
The Lake/Harlem cycling group has some bikers that ride to and from work together for safety reasons. My time schedules doesn't let me ride with them but the most common route that we use is on Lake street in the road outside the El support columns. It isn't bad and the columns give you a nice shield from most of the traffic.

Augusta is a designated bike route (painted lanes) but they are usually filled with glass and is certainly less safe than Lake.
Thanks Jassen. I recently got a new bike and am trying to put it to good use. This helps a lot.
Jassen Strokosch said:
The Lake/Harlem cycling group has some bikers that ride to and from work together for safety reasons. My time schedules doesn't let me ride with them but the most common route that we use is on Lake street in the road outside the El support columns. It isn't bad and the columns give you a nice shield from most of the traffic.

Augusta is a designated bike route (painted lanes) but they are usually filled with glass and is certainly less safe than Lake.

What times do they normally ride in the morning? How does one go about signing up? I would consider riding downtown in a group.
It depends on the time of year. I also don't know if a beginner group is riding currently though they might let you tag along. No offense intended but they are a quick group.

Two places to go for more info on getting in with the group:

http://www.oakparkcycleclub.org/

And joining the Lake and Harlem group on Yahoo Groups.

http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/lhcyclegrp/

They coordinate schedules via email mostly. If you're just looking to get in shape/ride more, there are groups of different levels with most all of them leaving from Poly cleaners at East Ave/Madison. Generally really friendly and welcoming of new bikers.

Russ M said:
Jassen Strokosch said:
The Lake/Harlem cycling group has some bikers that ride to and from work together for safety reasons. My time schedules doesn't let me ride with them but the most common route that we use is on Lake street in the road outside the El support columns. It isn't bad and the columns give you a nice shield from most of the traffic.

Augusta is a designated bike route (painted lanes) but they are usually filled with glass and is certainly less safe than Lake.

What times do they normally ride in the morning? How does one go about signing up? I would consider riding downtown in a group.
There's another group--Harrison Bikers--that rides from Washington Park to downtown in the a.m. and from UIC back to OP at night. I'm cutting and pasting the following instructions from another site, but I think they're right:

To subscribe, send mail to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UIC.EDU with the command (paste it!):

SUBSCRIBE HARRISONBIKER

Also, if you're into biking, you might want to check out another Ning network site called "Chainlink." The URL is www.thechainlink.org. It has great bike-oriented (and not-as-great non-bike-oriented) discussions and a current list of rides in the Chicago area.

And for what it's worth, I take Washington/Warren from OP to River North in the morning and Washington back at night. It's bike lane the whole way. Washington at night is pretty dicey, though; you have to watch out more for the pedestrians than the drivers. Now that the weather is warmer, I've been taking Lake back at night which is okay, but not great. Basically, there's no ideal route from OP to Chicago.
Here's a Yahoo group for a group that cycles from OP to the city. I don't much about it but I get their updates.

Oak Park Area Cycling Commuters
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/opacc/
If you're going to Logan Square, I'd suggest taking East ave (or Ridgeland, though I find Ridgeland sucks for bikes) to two blocks north of North avenue and going east on Bloomingdale. Jog half a block north on Central, and then jog 2 blocks north on Laramie to go east on Armitage. From Armitage you can then get to wherever in Logan Square you're going.

I take this route to work (to avoid the west side) and I like it because it's pretty calm. The bloomingdale section passes through a mostly safe-feeling working class neighborhood. The western end of Armitage isn't perfect, but it's wide enough and not too busy/fast.

Also re: Lake street - I dont take that route after having read this: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/September-2009/A-Mugging...
It's also made me paranoid about people stepping into the intersection in front of me.
Yeah, I have to take back what I said previously about using Lake Street, after I was accosted last week by a couple of young men on foot who tried to grab me/my bike (not sure which, since they weren't successful). This was about 7:00 pm on a week day near Lake and Pulaski. After that, I started going north to Division (from my job downtown, Milwaukee to Augusta, Augusta to Grand, Grand to Division, Division to Ridgeland, Ridgeland to Harvard [east] to Lyman). I had 3 encounters with kids/young men in the 6 months I commuted at night through the west side, and that seemed like way too many. So, reluctantly, I adjusted my route to avoid Austin.

Michael Leinartas said:
If you're going to Logan Square, I'd suggest taking East ave (or Ridgeland, though I find Ridgeland sucks for bikes) to two blocks north of North avenue and going east on Bloomingdale. Jog half a block north on Central, and then jog 2 blocks north on Laramie to go east on Armitage. From Armitage you can then get to wherever in Logan Square you're going.

I take this route to work (to avoid the west side) and I like it because it's pretty calm. The bloomingdale section passes through a mostly safe-feeling working class neighborhood. The western end of Armitage isn't perfect, but it's wide enough and not too busy/fast.

Also re: Lake street - I dont take that route after having read this: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/September-2009/A-Mugging...
It's also made me paranoid about people stepping into the intersection in front of me.
I'm a recent new resident in Oak Park and have been riding Lake - by myself. Though after reading some of these stories I might make a better effort to travel with a group, via the postings on the west side commuters yahoo group. I have the bad feeling that I'm just rolling the dice so that after a year bicycle commuting down Lake (even if its better than some other options), i should expect snake eyes a few times.

Eric

Erin said:
Yeah, I have to take back what I said previously about using Lake Street, after I was accosted last week by a couple of young men on foot who tried to grab me/my bike (not sure which, since they weren't successful). This was about 7:00 pm on a week day near Lake and Pulaski. After that, I started going north to Division (from my job downtown, Milwaukee to Augusta, Augusta to Grand, Grand to Division, Division to Ridgeland, Ridgeland to Harvard [east] to Lyman). I had 3 encounters with kids/young men in the 6 months I commuted at night through the west side, and that seemed like way too many. So, reluctantly, I adjusted my route to avoid Austin.

Michael Leinartas said:
If you're going to Logan Square, I'd suggest taking East ave (or Ridgeland, though I find Ridgeland sucks for bikes) to two blocks north of North avenue and going east on Bloomingdale. Jog half a block north on Central, and then jog 2 blocks north on Laramie to go east on Armitage. From Armitage you can then get to wherever in Logan Square you're going.

I take this route to work (to avoid the west side) and I like it because it's pretty calm. The bloomingdale section passes through a mostly safe-feeling working class neighborhood. The western end of Armitage isn't perfect, but it's wide enough and not too busy/fast.

Also re: Lake street - I dont take that route after having read this: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/September-2009/A-Mugging...
It's also made me paranoid about people stepping into the intersection in front of me.
I have to say that I'm probably going to take North Ave or Division after reading that.
I took lake street to downtown on a Saturday morning and even at 7:00 AM it didn't feel terribly safe.

(It's strange the way the world works - I remember Conroy's articles on Area Two for The Reader and he was just interviewed on the radio this weekend following the Burge case.)
Just wanted to say that I've been taking Lake every day the past 6 weeks or so, and its been fine. I haven't felt in danger. That being said, I keep my eyes open between Central Park Ave and Central. Today will be my first ride down Division, meeting my family up at the north side of Oak Park today...

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