2020-04-03 – So Lori Lightfoot closed the lakefront.
The lakefront is one of my favorite places to ride my bike, but I happened to drive by last week and saw the crowding. So I was already staying away when the mayor closed it. The day before she closed it, I took a nice ride on part of the North Branch trail. It wasn’t as crowded as the lakefront, but it wasn’t empty either.
And who is more likely to be out in the crowded places during a pandemic? Not the kind of folks who tend to obey social distancing rules. These are people who won’t give way when you are trying to come through. They ride (or run or walk) in scrums and spit.
So that was the last time I’m riding the North Branch trail.
There is an alternative: the streets. If you ride in the street, you have very little likelihood of coming within 25 feet of anyone, much less 6 feet.
Street riding takes planning. I avoid the major thoroughfares because of traffic. The kind of people who create problems on the bike trails also drive their cars like maniacs. I like to stay away. But sleepy streets tend not to go very far. You need to plan to come up with a decent route that avoids both off-road trails and major thoroughfares.
And it is possible. So far, I have two. I have a 13 mile route that goes north and a 12.5 mile route that goes south. I rode the north route on Wednesday and the south route yesterday. Both routes are shorter than my typical midweek routes. My lakefront loop is usually 24 miles and my “short” North Branch loop is a little over 20. But I expect to be combining my new all-street routes and finding others.
People are complaining about the closures. I get that. For me, riding my bike is both essential for my health and one of the most enjoyable things I do. The complaints sound like the noise rising from religious communities who are outraged at the suggestion that public worship services be curtailed for the interim. These things are important for many people.
But is it really necessary to spit in public?
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