Friendly Not Freaky Streets for Chicago Cyclists

Ok, it’s still a little freaky to be a Chicago cyclist on Dearborn Street. Those cars just a few short feet away seem to be coming right at you! It will take some getting used to. The opening of this new two-direction bike lane on Dearborn Street in mid-December also seemed unseasonable. We see bicyclists glide past every time our Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour heads up Dearborn. Even those who bike during winter were struck by the timing. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s committed to dedicating 110 miles of protected lanes by the end of his first term. So it’s now or never, I guess.

Chicago Cycling Plan

Some of the big-thinking ideas for the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 seem like a million light years away. But the two-way protected bicycle lanes along Dearborn Street already put us Chicago cyclists past the thirty-mile marker of that goal! At least they got the wheel turning so that we can use them now with spring in the air.

John Greenfield, Streetsblog ChicagoI have to say, my favorite part of the protected bike lane is the streetlight design. They proclaim an importance and demand a respect we haven’t seen since the Critical Mass campaign, “We Are Traffic.” These lights and the new bike lanes prove that cyclists deserve their space on the road, too. Other developments around the city also show a welcomed consideration of cyclists commuting and touring in Chicago.

But I must admit, I’d like to see the bike plan go a little further. These cycling campaigns and improvements declare our bikers’ right to share the road. But I believe education of driving and biking laws would truly make for more bike-friendly streets. How about some Chicago Bike Laws on billboards and posters around the city? They should be an integral portion of the driver license examinations and classes as well.

Improvements for Chicago Cyclists

And–which might make me some enemies here, but I just must say–I’d like to see more tickets issued to both drivers and cyclists. There’s gotta be penalties for those who don’t follow these rules. Their actions consequently put themselves and others in serious danger. I would even go so far as to request that bicycle helmets be mandatory. No matter how many bike lanes we get, it’s still freaky to share the road with uneducated, unprotected drivers, cyclists, and even pedestrians.

But for now, I’ll be content with the City of Chicago‘s evident commitment to cyclists, which is not surprising as local government has always been supportive of the infrastructural necessity of cyclists. The city publishes this great Chicago Bike Map if you haven’t seen it. Also, let us not forget the many courtesies remaining just for Chicago cyclists, like the parking meter pictured below.

And of course we have our peaceful, cyclist-only ride down Lake Shore Drive during Bike the Drive. This annual celebration of cycling, which is the pet project of the very cool Active Transportation Alliance, has been populating our most iconic road with cyclists for ten plus years and going strong.

Another development, one I hold close to heart, has not forged forward like the protected bike lanes, and that is the conversion of the old Bloomingdale railroad line into a 3 mile long park and trail. But I won’t lose heart, because not only do we Chicago cyclists make Seattle cyclists jealous, we’re also in the top five of Bicycling magazine‘s most bike-friendly cities. So thanks Rahm, for making the streets more welcoming and less scary for Chicago bike riders.

— Elizabeth Tieri, Tour Guide


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F

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