Planning Your Family-Friendly Chicago Bike Route

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There are so many reasons to travel the city with your kids by bike--it’s affordable, safe, environmentally-friendly, quick, and certainly more enjoyable than getting around town by car. But whether you’re a novice rider or a seasoned pro, getting on a bike with your child in tow for the first time can be daunting. 

As parents, we often talk about how we ride and plan our routes differently when riding with young passengers. The direct, major thoroughfares are often less than ideal for a chill family ride and a route with a painted bike lane (which many drivers regard as temporary parking) may actually be more stressful! So, how do you find a safe route to ride with your kids? We’ve gathered some resources for you to get rolling!

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Our favorite streets  have protected bike lanes (marked or painted lanes are ok but not as good), lower traffic, and 4-way stops or stop lights at major intersections. Shade from trees is a big plus in the summertime, and many prefer to bike with their children on one-way streets, as car traffic is generally slower & you can pull over at a stop sign or intersection to allow persistent drivers to pass safely. Designated off-road paths like the Lakefront Trail, the Bloomingdale Trail/606, or the North Channel Trail are also beloved by Chicago parents. The Lakefront Trail & Bloomingdale Trail are often more congested on weekends/holidays, and may not be the best option for younger independent riders, but are great thoroughfares for avoiding car traffic! 

Sounds like what you’re looking for? Let’s plan your family-friendly Chicago bike route! We frequently point our customers to the Mellow Chicago Bike Map, a crowd-sourced guide to the lowest-stress bike routes in the city. The map includes routes that can get you from point A to point B nearly anywhere in Chicago (it covers the area from 95th St to Devon, Cicero to Lake Michigan), and highlights the side streets, off-road paths, neighborhood greenways, and protected lanes that the city’s bike map ignores--they’re generally perfect routes for riding with children! 


Take a look at the map, find the best route(s) to meet your needs, then fill out this form to share your favorite family-friendly bike route so we can share it with our social media followers!