Chicago Sun-Times

Biking in the 'Burbs

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Monday's "Ride" column discussed efforts being made by some suburbs to encourage bicycling. I'm curious how well this is working out. Are you a suburban bicyclist, and is your suburb trying to make things easier for you with bike lanes and bike racks? Or do you get weird looks whenever you try to ride your bike to the store?

When I lived in the suburbs, biking and walking were viewed as eccentric activities, akin to churning your own butter. People would honk at me and ask if I needed a ride -- or just honk. Is it getting better for people who choose not to use a car for every trip?

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I used to live in Barrington. Rode my bike on Sundays, when everyone else was either in church, or recovering from Saturday night. I usually had the silent roads to myself, all the way out to Fox Lake or Wisconsin. I couldn't figure out why, on a beautiful spring morning, there were not more people out there riding bicycles and enjoying the day...

After all, didn't those people move out of Chicago, into the suburbs, so they could enjoy the fresh air, countryside and healthy lifestyle? Why did they spend all weekend in their cars? ...in the malls? ...inside their homes, watching TV?

Then I moved down to the City. I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven! From the crack of dawn thousands of people were out there, riding their bikes, jogging, strolling, rollerblading...and just plain recreating.

Small town planners will have to do a lot more than stripe bike lanes, in order to get people out of their suburban cars and onto bikes.

I think bike riding is great as long as the bicylist follow the rules of the road. This means to stop at stop signs and not just dart infront of cars, and when you are riding in a group ride single file. If you want to have a conversation don't ride 4 or 5 a breast pull over somewhere and talk. You have to show respect to get it. You can say your traffic too, but have you noticed bikes are not allowed on express ways or tollways there are paths for bikes so use them when you can.

The Illinois Prairie Path and its various spurs and branches get lots of traffic out here in western DuPage and eastern Kane Counties. Winfield, Downers Grove and Elk Grove Village have big annual bike races that help raise the profile of bicycling as a competitive sport, but cyclers still don't get much respect on the streets.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on July 29, 2008 4:05 PM.

Clark Street Trivia - Answer was the previous entry in this blog.

Bad corners for pedestrians is the next entry in this blog.

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