Chicago and Illinois have reached phase 4 of the reopening plan, and Mayor Lightfoot has finally opened the Lakefront for exercise. As a cyclist who has used the Lakefront regularly for the last 20 years, I was very excited to get back out there and ride my bike. Cycling is a wonderful way to exercise outside, and it is an excellent activity for a wide range of people. Unlike some weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, or even elliptical training, cycling causes less impact on your knees and ankles.
However, I was a bit disappointed on my first ride on the path. Don’t get me wrong, the Lakefront is beautiful, and it felt great to be riding out there. But the path was very crowded and further south (starting at North Avenue and then again by 47th) there was extensive storm damage causing a detour off the path – this all contributes to a slightly disjointed ride.
One of the silver linings of this pandemic period is that many of us are spending more time outdoors and finding fun and healthy ways to move. Which is why I noticed a lot of beginner cyclists on the path!
It is wonderful that more people are out getting exercise and enjoying the Lakefront, but watching the other riders made me want to remind myself and everyone else of a few simple ways to help keep all of us safer while riding a bicycle on the path or in the neighborhood.
Always wear a helmet!!
There should be no exceptions to this rule – the simple fact is that wearing a helmet decreases your chances of having a severe head injury by half. A MIPS (Multidirectional Impact Protection System) helmet protects against rotational forces and can provide more protection than a regular helmet.
Take what the Path Gives You!!
If it is early morning and there are only a few others on the path, go ahead and zoom away at 20 miles per hour. But if it is a busy, crowded time in the middle of the day, slow down and decrease your speed when you are close to other riders.
Pay attention and Be Safe!!
If you are riding by yourself or with friends, be sure to heed the path’s informal rules. If the bike path is crowded, ride your bike single-file, let the rider in front of you know that you are passing them by calling, “on your left” and obviously, then pass on the left.
Your Bike Should Be Comfortable!!
Cycling is a whole lot less fun if you are not relaxed and comfortable on your bike. If you feel the excessive strain, tension, or pain anywhere in your body when you are riding, you may have a problem with your bike fit or technique.