Here's a summer experience to add to your family bucket list: Bike the Drive. One Sunday per year, Chicago's Lake Shore Drive is closed to cars, turning one of the most fantastic expressways in the world in the world into an unforgettable biking experience. It's one of the best bike rides in the nation, and it's simply wonderful to drive along the stunning Chicago lakefront on a fine, early summer day.
Bike the Drive isn't a competition but rather a chance to ride along this normally trafficked highway and enjoy the scenery along the way. If your family likes to bike, this is a don't miss summer event: even kids are invited to hop into their bike seats or onto their very own bikes and pedal away along "LSD" in this annual ride, which kicks off this year on Sunday morning, May 29, 2016.
How to register
Pricing starts at $43 for adults. Registration for kids 17 years of age or younger, accompanied by an adult, is a flat $17 fee. If your kid is in a trailer or child bike seat, registration is not required. Rider packets will be shipped through the mail, or you can pick them up at Packet Pick Up prior to riding in the event.
Unregistered riders can register on the day-of event at the festival (Columbus and Jackson) or at either checkpoint (Fullerton and Oakwood).
All proceeds from Bike the Drive support the Active Transportation Alliance.
Need a bike?
If you're visiting Chicago the weekend of the event, two bike rental facilities will have bikes ready to go. Bike and Roll Chicago, located just north of Butler Field on Randoph Street, is offering overnight/full day bicycle rentals starting at $23. Bobby's Bike Hike, located at Lake Shore Drive and Ohio Street, is offering overnight bike rentals starting at $18.
How long is the route?
The entire Bike the Drive loop is 30 super scenic miles, but you can make your ride as short or long as you like by using turnarounds located along the route.
- Bike north to the Bryn Mawr Avenue Rest Stop and return: 15 miles
- Bike south to the Museum of Science and Industry Rest Stop and return: 15 miles
- Bike the entire loop: 30 miles
How to arrive at the event
If you can't bike directly to the event, park at Soldier Field's North Garage: You can reserve a parking space and pre-pay for your parking for just $13 discounted rate (plus an additional $3.00 service fee). Click here to reserve your space. Here is a printable map showing the location of the North Garage.
You can also take your bike on trains and buses operated by CTA, Metra and Pace. The CTA relaxes their 2 bikes per car policy for Bike the Drive, so you can count on hopping on a train. Registered participants with rider numbers can safely start the ride at any of the following five points: Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive Starting Line, Bryn Mawr Rest Stop, Museum of Science & Industry Rest Stop, Fullerton Check Point or the Oakwood Check Point (check out the full map here).
Finally, plan on arriving early: The event begins at 5:30 AM, and the earlier you start, the longer your ride.
Three rest stops along the route will feature light snacks, fruit and water. Bring your own water bottle to cut down on waste.
- North Rest Stop - Bryn Mawr Avenue
- Central Rest Stop - Southwest Corner of Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive
- South Rest Stop - 57th Street, on the lawn of the Museum of Science and Industry
Need a play to stay for the night?The Fairmont Chicago is offering a special weekend dead for all Bike the Drive participants. You'll receive 20 percent off valet car parking, easy access to the start/finish area, which is located less than 1 mile from the hotel, secure, indoor bike parking, a complimentary continental breakfast the morning of the event, 15% off all spa services and high speed internet access. Rates for a luxury hotel rooms start at just $185.
Don't forget to bring helmets for everyone in your family! And be sure to check out Bike the Drive's guide to kid bike safety at bikethedrive.org/safety/children. Take this fun quiz before you go,so you're all on the same safety page as a family.
Bike the Drive 2016 takes place on Sunday, May 29. To register, or for more information, visit bikethedrive.org.