If Chicago’s Lakefront Trail did not exist, this blog would not exist. At least not in its current form with me as a co-blogger. That’s because I never would have attempted to ride my bike to work without the trail.
Before I started cycling, I’d only been to the lakefront once or twice during my one year as a Chicago resident. All I knew about the trail was that it went all the way downtown and had no cars.
No Cars – that was key.
So the day I bought my bike, I sheepishly mentioned to the shop owner that I was maybe, possibly, sort of considering bike commuting via the lakefront. (What, me a bike commuter? Don’t laugh, I know it’s silly!) To my surprise, she enthusiastically grabbed a Chicago Bike Map and showed me the street I could take straight to the trail. Only one mile of side-streets and then I would be free! Even I could handle that.
Riding on the Lakefront Trail every day, slowly but surely I gained skill and confidence. I started trying my luck with bigger and busier streets, until one day I woke up a “cyclist,” someone who could take whatever the city threw my way.
Despite all of my experience and my love for cycling, I know that I would not bike to work as often if it were not for the Lakefront Trail. Although I can handle the streets at rush hour, the constant pressure can be overwhelming. As long as I can retreat to the calm of the trail whenever I want, I never burn out. That’s what I did today, rejecting my new street route in favor of the trail, even though it added 15 minutes to my commute.
If anyone asks my opinion on separated bicycling infrastructure, there’s my answer.
Hail to the trail, ’cause the trail deserves some hailing.