Experience Chicago from the cyclist’s point of view

UChicago community embraces convenient transportation by bicycle for an immersive perspective on the city

For those looking for a fast way to get around while enjoying the city, two wheels may provide the answer. Many members of the University of Chicago community embrace bicycling to get around Hyde Park and the greater Chicago area. It is an efficient and a fun way to explore what Chicago has to offer.

“You experience a lot more of the city when you pass through it on a bike; not only the sights but also the sounds and the scents and the feel of the neighborhoods,” said John Mark Hansen, Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor of political science. “And heck, it’s flat as a pancake.”

Every year, Hansen co-hosts a South Side history bicycle tour that dozens of UChicagoans attend. Over the course of the 20-mile tour, participants make stops and learn about the historically significant places and people of Chicago’s neighborhoods. The success of the tour over the past 20 years is a testament to the love of bicycling among the UChicago community and to the perks of taking a bicycle around the city.

“One of the virtues of riding a bike in the city is that one can go places that would be impossible to access by a car and time-consuming to get to by public transportation,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College, who is an avid cyclist and co-host of the bike tour with Hansen. “There’s a freedom in the way you can pause, get off the bike, take a look at people, places, and things in a particular neighborhood, and then be on your way.”

This year’s tour will take place on Sunday, October 2, with Boyer and Hansen leading the way.

Tips for your bicycle

Many people chose to bring their own bicycle to campus. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Use a secure lock to protect your bicycle against theft. UChicago recommends steel u-shaped locks.
  2. Park your bicycle at designated racks. Be sure to avoid obstructing paths, ramps, railings or other bicycles.
  3. You can register your bike with the UCPD by contacting the Community Relations Unit at 773.702.6008 or ucpd-cru@uchicago.edu and they will give your bike a numbered identification sticker and keep it on record.

If you don’t own a bicycle

For those who seek an alternative to purchasing their own bicycle or simply want to test out the Chicago cycling experience, the Divvy bike rental service is a convenient option. Dotting the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus and the city more broadly are curbside stations that offer bright blue Divvy bikes to rent. Forming a robust bike-sharing network, Divvy bikes are a great option to supplement transportation options available to University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff.

With Divvy, a bike can be rented from any station and returned to any other station. UChicago faculty, staff and students can use the code bikeUChicago and their UChicago email address to purchase a discounted annual membership for $83.The annual membership provides unlimited 45-minute rides on bikes and discounted rates on electric bikes.

For Divvy users, convenient docking stations are located near gyms, libraries, cafeterias, and the medical campus. Other popular Divvy station locations within Hyde Park are near restaurants and businesses on 53rd and 55th Street as well as Metra train stations, which connect to the Loop and other neighborhoods in the city. You can use the Divvy app to find nearby stations.

“Riding on the Lakefront bike path up to the Loop gives you an incredible view of Chicago’s impressive skyline,” Boyer said, citing the 18 miles of paved trails along Lake Michigan as an excellent way to reach a variety of destinations and take in the local sights.

Urban Bike Safety Tips

Chicago is a bike-friendly area, with trails and bike lanes available across the city and nearby suburbs. You can find bike maps for many parts of the city and Cook County forest preserves on the City of Chicago transportation site.

Please keep these safety tips in mind as you navigate Chicago by bicycle:

  1. Plan your route in advance. View all Divvy stations here.
  2. Wear a secure, well-fitting helmet throughout your ride.
  3. Obey traffic laws. Ride in the direction of traffic and wait for green lights at intersections. Stay off sidewalks and yield to pedestrians.
  4. Allow at least 3 feet of distance from all vehicles, including parked cars. Beware of drivers opening doors in parked vehicles.
  5. Use signals to indicate turns and stops.
  6. Wear reflective clothing if riding at night.

“It’s always a pleasure to see new cyclists join our community,” Hansen said. “Chicago has so much history and beauty to explore, and with the right knowledge and preparation, bicycling is an amazing way to engage with the city and just get around.”

UChicagoSocial: Campus and Student Life