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Riding to the Vortex

James Barclay By
Jim Barclay
   | Chicago News

Biking in snow storm

Ok, that’s a little misleading. The polar vortex has technically passed but I did have the opportunity to ride to my office this morning so I took it (with all respect due those who actually did ride outdoors the last few days–you are braver than I).

It wasn’t a long trip by any means–from North Center (Irving & Damen) to the Dream Town office at Lincoln & Armitag–but with temps reaching above zero degrees, I figured, “why not?” I grabbed my balaklava and lobster claw gloves and hopped on a Divvy bike.

I’ve heard lots of snide remarks made about Divvy and the winter: “how are they going to work when we get a foot of snow?” The answer: quite well, actually. The bike unlocked from the dock just fine. I kicked the pedals around to remove some snow, hopped on and took off down Lincoln Avenue.

The riding was decent. For a good portion of my trip the bike lanes were visible, if not clear. When there was muck in the bike lanes, the Divvy’s fenders performed flawlessly. A few times parked cars and/or really heavy slush kept me on the road instead. That was never a problem as traffic was remarkably light–most cars were moving very slowly. I can say quite honestly that I was not nervous at all. The best part? I passed dozens of cars that were stopped, waiting for traffic to move. If I had opted to drive I most certainly would have been late for my 9am appointment.

I will say the side streets around north center were not so hospitable–for cycling or driving. I saw no evidence that a snow plow had even come close to that neighborhood. Had my trip involved taking those streets I would have had to walk it.

So for those of you tired of sitting in your car, stuck in traffic, and ruining your floor mats, consider taking a short bike trip. It can be done and with a lot less hassle than you would expect. Just make sure to dress warmly and have a fender on your bike.