It may come as a surprise to many, but the third largest city in the U.S., Chicago, has an incredible bike infrastructure. Our spring Super Commuter, David Pulsipher, gushes that he loves the “City of Big Shoulders” for its world class stature but livable nature. “Nothing feels too big, too far, too busy or hectic,” he says.
David’s family has called Chicago their home for the last 3 years, but it was his years attending grad school in Los Angeles that solidified his faith in commuting by bike. He was waiting at a bus transfer point when he saw someone ride by on a bike. A pragmatist at heart, David grasped the opportunity to save money, time, and stay fit (not to mention have fun). Within a week he was at a bike shop getting a new bike for his commute and he hasn’t looked back since.
These days it’s a Surly Long Haul Trucker that gets David through his riding; a smart choice given the bike’s enormous adaptability. David is grateful to have a wife that encourages his daily 27 mile round-trip commute. It takes 2 hours out of his day but that valuable time allows him to decompress from the day. He arrives home feeling refreshed, happy and full of enough energy for 3 rambunctious boys!
Twelve of the 13 miles of David’s commute are comprised of bike lanes, some of that being buffered or even protected bike lane. It is those amenities that help encourage bike riding in Chicago. But David also praises the plentiful residential streets that connect schools, parks and other destinations he bikes to with his family. He has even started a branch of Kidical Mass in Northwest Chicago to introduce other families to the joys of riding in his community.
David cites physical and mental health, saving money and having fun as motivation to start commuting by bike. However, he’s found an unforeseen benefit; seeing his city at the ground level. “There are tons of tiny thing I’d never notice in a car,” he says, “like the funny cactus on a Mexican restaurant, interesting font choices for the local bakery’s signage, and smelling the Blommer Chocolate factory downtown. I love all of it!”
“What I would say to 1st timers – don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out at first. Acknowledge, and be comfortable with the fact that you will learn as you go. You will learn what types of clothing work for you. You will learn what type of bike is comfortable, convenient. You will learn how to fix what you need to fix, and also what you can’t. The internet has so many communities out there for bicyclists. Overall I would say we are a very kind/welcoming group willing to share experience and information. Basically, don’t be afraid of being new.”