legendsChicago Bike Maps
Representations of space stem from ideal visions of the city produced over time. The following maps bookend the 20th century.

The first map was published in 1898 by businessman A.M. Askevold. The second map was published by the CIty of CHicago and the Chicago Bike Federation in 2001.

Legends are to the right.

Although street infrastructure has changed some of the main avenues for cycling in the 19th century, including Milwaukee Ave and Halstead St., remain cycling arteries today. Roll your mouse over the map below to see how bike routes have changed.

historic bike maps

Click here for more on the history of cycling in Chicago. >>

The North-East Illinois Planning Commission and city of Chicago published cycling maps in 1992, 1995 and 1999. These maps cover the entire Chicagoland area, and are therefore not incredibly detailed maps of the city. These maps provide a basic guideline for a few areas, but do not really inform of the condition of the streets. In 2001, the city published a cycling map with the Chicago Bike Federation. This map is a very detailed map of the city, including proposed routes, recommended routes, and detailed account of the existing transportation infrastructure. This document also provides rules of the roads and guides on safe cycling practice (signaling, how to make yourself visible, where to ride on roads without bike-lanes, etc.) This map was designed by cyclists for both the hard-core and the more leisurely riders. It introduces the city to a novice rider and provides guidelines for ways to navigate the city based on routes commonly agreed on by the bike community to be safe.

This representation of space is a successful tool that helps shapes social practice by giving the interested yet fearful rider confidence and knowledge about how to safely traverse the city on a bike. This tool can of course also be deceiving—Chicago’s Critical Mass list-serve frequently discusses issues surrounding the safety of bike lanes as well as ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ routes. Also, the map has a North-Side bias. The biking movement in Chicago is not nearly as strong on the South-Side. The South-Side biking infrastructure and street system in general is not as advanced as the infrastructure on the North-Side. According to Chicago Bike Federation’s T.C. O’Rourke, the man who tests these routes, the city’s infrastructure is not perfect for biking, especially on poor fringe areas of the city including the south side, but the map provides highlights routes that are safer and connect most areas of the city. Using this map a person on the far south side can find a route to go to the north-west side on his or her bicycle. This map, or representation of space in Lefebvre’s terminology, reflects the daily reality and urban reality (social practice) of the bike community as studied by the CBF and an aggregated city ideal (representational space) where biking is possible.


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