MLB, NL

Biking To Wrigley Field Is Easier Than You Think

A biker heading south on Clark Street, a half mile north of Wrigley Field

Biking has exploded in Chicago over the past five years. There are many reasons for this, from moving away from fossil fuels to the expansion of bike lanes–and the creation of some protected bike lanes–throughout the city. And the city’s rideshare program–known as Divvy–has made bike riding in Chicago more commonplace than ever before. Drive on Milwaukee Avenue at any time, day or night, and the number of bicyclists sharing the road will truly blow your mind.

So what’s to stop someone–whether a local or a tourist in from out of town–from riding a bike to the Cubs games at Wrigley Field? The answer is, nothing! It’s fast, it’s convenient, and the cost is much less than you might think. The city’s efforts have been recognized by Bicycling Magazine, which just named Chicago as its number one city for biking in 2016. Chicago replaced New York City in the top spot, and Chi-town is now ranked ahead of such environmentally conscious acheter viagra cities as San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

Bike lane indicator on North Clark Street

Bike lane indicator on North Clark Street

Using Bike Lanes to get to Wrigley Field

The main thoroughfare in the Wrigleyville area is Clark Street, which runs south from the Evanston border all the way into downtown. It’s a two lane street, which is important because it doesn’t have much speeding traffic the way that east-west streets like Belmont and Irving Park do. Since it’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalks of Chicago, every bicyclist must learn to share the road with the cars and trucks that are already on it.There are bike lanes all along Clark Street leading to the ballpark itself. They aren’t true dedicated lanes, in that there aren’t lines painted on the street, and they don’t offer protection from traffic by putting a row of parked cars between the bicyclist and the flow of traffic. But there are bicycle icons painted in the street, many of which have been partially worn away over time.

The idea is that bikers have to ride in the same lane as the flow of traffic, in a narrow strip of road between cars heading in the same direction and cars parked on the street. Opening doors are always a concern, because motorists getting out of cars don’t always look to see if bikes are coming up behind them when opening their doors. It’s always a good idea to be alert when you’re on a bike that’s moving with the flow of traffic.

The construction of new facilities on Clark Street near Waveland Avenue–the street that runs behind the left-field wall at Wrigley–essentially takes away the bike lane for a small stretch of Clark Street. A rider can still get through if they’re careful, but otherwise riding on Clark Street, from the north or from the south, is pretty much a straight shot to the ballpark.

North entrance to CTA Addison Red Line Stop

North entrance to CTA Addison Red Line Stop

Valet parking during Cubs home games

For people riding their bikes in Chicago, the main challenge is having their rides stolen. It’s happened to me in every conceivable permutation: stolen seat, stolen back wheel, and stolen entire bike on more than one occasion. As thorough a job as a person might do with locking their bike, there’s a bike thief out there who’s ready to meet the challenge.

There are bike locks available on the street, including a couple literally across the street from Wrigley behind the right field wall on Sheffield Avenue, but the most secure rout to take is to use the free bike valet offered by Naked Juice during all home games. Just take your bike to the alley located near the north entrance to the Addison Street Red Line stop on the CTA, hand your bike over, and they’ll keep an eye on it during the ballgame for you. And I did mention this was free? This means there’s no reason for leaving  your bike at the mercy of bike thieves while you’re watching the game.

Divvy station at Sheffield and Addison Streets

Divvy station at Sheffield and Addison Streets

Divvy-ing to Wrigley Field

Divvy bikes are great because they allow a person to live in Chicago and ride a bike, without having to worry about where to store it during the day, and without the chance of having it stolen. Divvy costs $9.95 for a 24-hour pass, and $99 for an annual pass. In September of 2016, there is even a $2 reduction in the daily ride rate, just in time for the Cubs’ final homestand of the season!

Divvy bikes have to be used within a 30-minute window, so if you plan to rent a bike and then ride to the ballpark, you’ll have to put it away before the game starts. There are several Divvy stations located within a few blocks of Wrigley Field, including at Broadway and Waveland (three blocks from the right field corner), Racine and Clark (a half mile to the north) and Sheridan and Irving Park (a half mile north of the Harray Caray statue). But the choicest location of all is just across the street from the ballpark, at Sheffield and Addison Street. A long foul ball down the right field line could probably even come close to reaching it.

Because Divvy realizes this is the prime location for leaving a bike before the game, it offers valet service before all Cubs games in September. When the Divvy rack is full–meaning there are no spaces available for returning a rental bike–the valet removes bikes in order to make more room for a return. There’s no cost for the service, either. Just drop the bike off and pick up another one after the game. The service is available from 12–5 PM during day games, and from 6–11 PM for night games in September. Playoff availability has not yet been announced.

Looking south across Addison Street, to where a Starbucks once stood.

Looking south across Addison Street, to where a Starbucks once stood.

For many years, bicyclists in Chicago needed to have something approaching a death wish to venture away from the bike paths along the city’s lakefront. But forces have recently come together to make biking a viable alternative to driving or taking public transportation. Motorists might not enjoy sharing the road with this bicycling army, but they have come to realize they must do so. Purchasing a Divvy pass would likely pay for itself on the way to the ballpark, when compared to the cost of taking a cab or an Uber. And the pass is good for 24 hours, meaning you can also explore the city after the game is over.

The months where bike riding is impractical in Chicago essentially overlap with baseball’s offseason, so if you’re in town and wanting to get to a ballgame at Clark and Addison streets, why not give some thought to powering there by yourself?

 

My man is an old soul who plays old school baseball. @cubs

A video posted by Julianna Zobrist (@juliannazobrist) on

 

 

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