Where the Bikes Are in Chicago

When the Chicago Department of Transportation started replacing the standard white stripe bicycle lanes with lanes painted florescent green, with their own medians, elevations, and traffic lights, it was something of a novelty.  Now these pedal priority paths are a part of everyday life guiding and protecting commuters, tourists, and delivery people around the city.

If you’ve ever wondered which routes are the most pedaled, and if they align with CDOT’s plan, wonder no more.  Now you can see Chicago’s popular bicycle routes lit up like the tail lights of car commuters streaming down the Kennedy.

A company called Strava makes a GPS app for active people to track their distance, progress, health, etc… It has taken billions of points of data from its users and made a cool web page that shows which Chicago streets are most popular with cyclists.

Strava heat map of downtown Chicago

Strava heat map of downtown Chicago

The image above shows downtown Chicago from Oak Street to Roosevelt Road.  Not surprisingly, the lakefront path is lit up like Uncle Frank on New Year’s Eve.  In fact, most of the central grid is pretty well used, but a few streets stand out:

  • Milwaukee Avenue coming in from the northwest
  • Kinizie Street, feeding all those commuters into River North
  • Grand Avenue, the cross-town connector
  • Halsted Street, the north-south route of choice
  • Dearborn Street, the darling of CDOT’s downtown cycling strategy

To be sure, this is not a scientific study and one that CDOT likely won’t use when planning which pavement to repaint.  But it’s a fun way to scroll around Chicago (and other cities) and view the hot routes in your neighborhood.

Other observations:

Strava map of Oak Park, Forest Park, and River Forest

Strava map of Oak Park, Forest Park, and River Forest

Oak Park, Forest Park, and River Forest are an island of bicycle activity surrounded by a sea of darkness.

Strava heat map of Caldwell/Smith Woods and LaBagh Woods

Strava heat map of Caldwell/Smith Woods and LaBagh Woods

Caldwell/Smith Woods and LaBagh Woods stand out as beacons of bicycling on the northwest side.

To see what your neighborhood looks like, follow this link.


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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1 Comment

  1. The Caldwell woods and LaBaugh woods highlights are probably due to cyclocross races that have been held at those locations. That could be a bit misleading, as there are huge amounts of cycling activity on the date of the race but hardly any activity on the other days of the year.

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