Video: a calm Chicago bike commute

Here is a little video I made of my morning bike commute through relatively quiet side streets. Not the most interesting video ever, but I wanted to show how it’s possible to commute into downtown Chicago while avoiding busy streets and scary traffic. This is part of the quiet route that I often take, which I blogged about a few months ago here.

[UPDATE: May not work for international readers. Sorry!]

It’s hard to hear what I’m saying in the beginning and my memory card became full about 1/4 of my way to work, but you get the idea. The speed is 2.5x faster than reality.

I’m no Leslie Knope with iMovie, so please excuse the poor quality. (If you don’t get that reference, you didn’t watch Parks & Rec tonight – shame on you.)

Major shout-out to super sweet reader Ambrose, who gifted me her old bike camera mount after I posted my last ridiculously shaky handheld video. It made a huge difference. Thank you!!

  • Kara

    Nice Leslie Knope shout out!

    Your commute looks so doable. Not scary at all.

  • anniebikes

    It’s a nice, quiet ride. I’m glad you made the effort to discover a new route to work. I hope this encourages other Chicago riders to get out there. I am thrilled that just this week in my town the citywide speed limit was lowered. Can you believe it?

    • Steven Vance

      Speed limit lowered across a whole town? Wow, where did that happen? That’s impressive.

      • anniebikes

        Burlington, Vermont

        • Steven Vance

          It changed from what to what?

  • Loxely

    What a lovely commute. Thoroughly enjoyed the video. I commute a couple of miles in Watford uk; it’s a constant progression through grimy lorries, nose-to-tail cars and pedestrians who don’t seem to know who a cycle lane is for. I always enjoy reading your blogs, they remind me that cycling has a very pleasant calm side to it. Lovely

  • Zweiradler

    This video is not available in Germany. Ugh. It’s the copyright mafia (GEMA) again.


    • Dottie

      Aw, sorry. I’m able to use the song with a little ad linked to it, but I guess that does not work outside the U.S. Next time I’ll use some lame iMovie music, once I figure out how.

      • Cupcake Ride

        It works in Canada, though :)

        And I agree with everyone – your commute seems relaxing and nice!

    • Dottie

      You should be able to watch this version (although the riding is not sped up).

      [Ack, apparently the program recognizes live versions, too. I give up. Sorry about that.]

  • Laura McKinstry Ring

    same problem for me, I can’t see it cause I’m in Germany ;)

    • Dottie

      You should be able to watch this version (although the riding is not sped up).

  • Simply Bike

    This was so fun, it’s like we’re right there riding along with you! Cute video! And I really like the song, who’s the band?

    • LGRAB

      The song is Sujan Stevens’ “Chicago” from the Illinois album. The whole album is excellent – highly recommended!

      • Simply Bike


  • Lauren

    very cool! thank you for sharing this :)

  • Lauren

    very cool! thank you for sharing this :)

  • Philippe

    I can see it in France, FWIW.

    • LGRAB

      I guess France and Canada are just cool like that. ;)

  • Harold Potter

    Thanks for a glimpse of your commute! I only ride for recreation [plus the occasional trip to corner store], but I enjoy cruising up and down residential streets, taking in flower beds and front gardens. A couple more potholes, and your streets would be on par with those in southern California.

  • Mamavee

    hey very cool! The speeded up version does freak me out though- I thought you were going to crash into a pick up and that first SUV seemed to come from Nowhere. But yeah- it looks like my rides on the quiet streets!

    FYI check this out for copyright free music. I have yet to try it but I think this will fix my FB issue ( it won’t let me post videos with any of my own itunes music…..) obviously you don’t have full range of music but it’s better than lame imovie free music.

    • LGRAB

      Thanks! I’ll check that out.

    • Steven Vance

      For free music, I use

  • john h

    Love the commute video, zipping with gloves totally frustrates me. I usually save them for last.

  • David B

    I’m struck by the percentage of the Chicago real estate that is devoted to storing transportation devices (i.e. our cars and trucks) on hard-earned transportation corridors (paved streets and boulevards) when not in use.
    Just think about how easy Dottie’s commute would be if she didn’t have to navigate around all that empty sheet-metal-on-wheels while on her way to work. Those parked vehicles that Dottie so deftly navigates around are used maybe one tenth of the time at most. Lets get more Urbanites to give up their cars and get on their bikes!

  • laura mchardie

    Wow – Chicago looks lovely and flat, gotta say very jealous!

    • LGRAB

      Yes, VERY flat! We have that going for us. :)

  • Les Connally

    Being from down here in Texas, I am always nervous riding in Chicago.. Lots more parked cars on the street EVERYWHERE up there, with lots more doors waiting to door me! My friend comes down here to Texas and is nervous about the pickup trucks speeding past at 50 miles an hour, that I ignore..

    • LGRAB

      Yeah, I really hate all the parked cars. Their presence is definitely the worst thing about my quiet commute. That’s one reason bicycling in Nashville feels so lovely and free to me – far fewer parked cars. Although traffic does go faster there, so it’s a trade-off.

  • Michellebrown232

    Lovely morning ride. Your streets are so flat too not like where I come from (Brisbane, Australia) where it’s very hilly.

  • Maggie

    Ooh I just love Chicago and bike commute videos.

    Here is my commute to work
    This is my SoCal beach commute home

    Anybody else have commute videos they want to share?

    • Inspiredcyclist

      Thanks for sharing your commute Maggie. Nice to see such variety in our rides

  • Inspiredcyclist

    Thanks so much for sharing your ride! You looked adorable, I enjoyed seeing what youmexperience, and I Loved the song! perfection! Thanks

  • Julia

    Hah, I love how we all look at this as a nice, straight-forward urban commute, whereas one of your youtube comments warns you to be careful on your not “bike friendly street.”
    Optimistically, I chalk it up to a matter of perspective.
    Pessimistically, I fear that people still aren’t quite getting “it.”

  • Dennis Hindman

    Los Angeles’s new bike plan has a lot of streets that LADOT will attempt to make into bicycle friendly streets like your route to work. Looking at some of them on Google Maps recently, I realize that some secondary streets in the city are as crowded with cars as the primary streets. It’s gonna be a tough task to make many of them bike friendly without taking some space away from drivers, which will upset a lot of people. I hope Chicago’s new mayor doesn’t get enough backlash to stop him from installing 100 miles of protected bike lanes in the next four years.