Which Chicago Neighborhoods Are the Most Bikeable?

Earlier this week, the people at Walk Score updated its rankings of America’s most bikeable cities, and Chicago came in at number 10. In addition, they released a city-by-city list of the most bikeable neighborhoods.

You can see Chicago’s top bikeable neighborhoods as rated by Walk Score in the map above. (Eight “neighborhoods” listed in the WalkScore spreadsheet didn’t have matching areas in the neighborhood map data from Chicago and are therefore not shown on the map.) Here’s their ranking of the top ten Chicago neighborhoods for biking:

  1. East Ukrainian Village: 89.3
  2. Ukrainian Village: 87
  3. Wicker Park: 86.8
  4. Illinois Medical District: 86.5
  5. Noble Square: 86.1
  6. East Pilsen: 85.9
  7. Margate Park: 84.2
  8. West Loop Gate: 84
  9. Sheridan Park: 83.7
  10. Fulton River District: 83.4

Anything on the list surprise you? I think not having Logan Square is the big upset, coming in at number 58, but it only has bike lanes on Palmer and Milwaukee for less than 1.5 miles! I wouldn’t have picked up on Illinois Medical District having a high BikeScore. When I re-read the factors Walk Score considers, it was still a head-scratcher:

Bike Score measures whether a location is good for biking on a scale from 0 – 100 based on four equally weighted components:

  • Bike lanes
  • Hills
  • Destinations and road connectivity
  • Bike commuting mode share
Bike Girl
Ukrainian Village at Damen/Division. Photo: Daniel Rangel.

The Illinois Medical District is very flat, yes, has three bike lanes (Roosevelt, Damen, and Taylor) but lacks a variety of destinations and amenities, and has a low population. It must then have a very high bike commuting mode share (calculated by where people live, not where they go). However, it seems that BikeScore may consider a shared lane marking as a bike lane: Ogden has sharrows that may have influenced the neighborhood’s ranking.

What do you think of the neighborhood ranking?

Updated 19:38 to remove neighborhoods 11-20 at WalkScore’s request. 

  • CL

    I’m not surprised that Rogers Park didn’t score too highly. We don’t have many bike lanes, and there isn’t a good route from the lake path through Rogers Park if you want to keep going north. Sheridan isn’t great for bikes. Clark is getting shared lane markings because of participatory budgeting, but it’s also not ideal for cycling because it’s so busy and congested.

  • I still consider this a beta. Criteria should include quality of ride experience. Rogers Park may have a lot more nearby destinations than Beverly, but the ride experience is better in Beverly (less broken glass, more considerate drivers, etc.). What if most of the streets are pleasant enough NOT to need bike lanes? Shouldn’t that be counted? Streeterville and Lincoln Park have tons of destinations – if you can get there without some overly entitled driver running you off the road. I would rate Streeterville much lower on the list due to hazardous conditions (driving speed and bad driver attitudes).

    I agree with you about Illinois Medical District and Logan Square. I think the WalkScore/BikeScore folks need to consider that criteria between walkability and bikeability are a bit different. Neighborhoods that have a good number of bike friendly destinations accessible within 2-3 miles should get a fair rating.

  • I lived in RP for 10 years. I think it deserves points lots of nearby destinations, but lack of connectivity to Evanston and the lakefront path is a significant problem. The barrier created by the Metra line creates some limits on connectivity to the west.

  • Adam Herstein

    East Ukrainian Village? Have they ever tried biking down Chicago Ave?

  • I bike in or through at least one of the top 5 every day and am happy to call one of them home. I don’t have a problem with Chicago Ave. It helps that there’s no highway entrance or exit, and the bunched up buses are easy to work with. :) I’m trying to think of what other (measurable) factors I would use to rate bikeability…maybe crash data (but you’ll have more crashes where there are more bikers), frequency of bike racks, number of bike shops, lack of curb cuts, lack of parking lots & garage (this would knock Streeterville down where it probably belongs!).

  • BikeScore cannot take into account the lack of things, but only the presence of things (where there’s data). However, one could easily run a “network analysis” that measures the distance between bikeways, so-called “missed connections” and come up with a proxy for “lack of connectivity”.

  • Looking at just the Bike Lanes heat map on their website, I think they must be missing some routes. For example, Dearborn Street area through the Loop is in red; a section of the Lakefront Trail seems rated strangely low around Lincoln Park; and Lake View is rated low for bike lanes despite having lanes on Halsted, Clark and Southport. The destinations and bike commuters maps look fair. My only objection to the hills map is considers the hilly bridges on Halsted flat.

  • The topography data they get probably doesn’t include the bridges. I think it’s time that the BikeScore/WalkScore folks talk to us Chicagoans.

    They do have a one-size-fits-all model that may end up fitting no one.

  • The mode share component seems to boost BikeScores for campus neighborhoods with lots of intra-neighborhood commuters like the Medical District and Hyde Park despite their lack of connectivity. Hyde Park even scores better than East Hyde Park, along the lakefront path. I would give a higher score to Old Town, which is easier to *get to* by bike, than to Hyde Park.

  • I presume they get their mode share data from the same place I do, which is nationwide: American Community Survey (which is updated annually).

    This only asks about trips to work so many trips to school (while some people and institutions, both public and private, consider this work, it’s up to the respondent to provide the best response).

  • John

    It’s probably hard to keep up with Chicago’s rapid bike lane additions. Maybe it will be updated eventually?

  • John

    Logan Square is a surprise. I’m also surprised Hyde Park isn’t on the list. By Community Area, it has the highest bike to work mode share in Chicago, no doubt because of the University.

  • Brian

    I wonder what it would take to get Andersonville on this list. Would a striped bike lane seal the deal?

  • Josh Ellis

    Some of the neighborhoods right on the lake front might have a somewhat lower score than they deserve, because it doesn’t seem like the lake path itself is considered in the bikability measure here. Lots of South Loopers and Hyde Parkers (and folks in between and further south) think of their neighborhoods as being bikable because they have such easy access to the lake front, which makes access to other neighborhoods very easy. The map here, which is still useful, seems to be focused primarily on biking within given neighborhoods, not between.

  • Writingprincess

    I live in Hyde Park and this summer I biked to work downtown about three days a week. (I also swim and run so had to do those other activities otherwise I would have done it 5 days a week). I LOVE biking to work on the LFP in the morning, not so much in the evening because of the increased traffic but I’ll take it. I’m surprised Hyde Park isn’t on here either. It technically has the biggest bike lane in the city – LFP. :)

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