Chicago, which is located in the state of Illinois, is the third most populous city in the USA. Known as a hub for architecture, culture, entertainment, commerce, education, technology and more, Chicago is a popular destination for many tourists around the globe.
If you’re interested in exploring Chicago on an e-bike, this article will answer all the questions you may have!
E-biking rules in Chicago
E-bikes, which are classified as low-speed electric bicycles in Illinois, are allowed to ride on most streets and bike paths in the city of Chicago. However, they must follow certain rules accordingly:
- Must not have a motor output that exceeds 750W
- Must have fully operable pedals
- Must not exceed the speed limit of 20 mph (28 mph for Class III)
- Are subject to the same laws as for traditional bicycles
- Riders must be 16 or older
If you’re thinking of taking your e-bike on city transit when exploring the city, here’s what you should know about bikes on transit. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is comprised of buses and trains, and while all buses are equipped with bike racks located at the front of the bus, electric bicycles are not permitted on bus bike racks.
As well, only folding e-bikes are allowed to be brought on the bus; all other e-bikes are not. On the train, which is also known as the “L”, all bicycles are permitted on the train except during rush hour periods from 7AM – 9AM and 4PM – 6PM on weekdays. Additionally, bicycles are not allowed on certain days or times where trains are expected to become overly crowded. Cyclists are expected to consult CTA personnel accordingly.
On the Metra, which is the city’s commuter rail system, standard sized bicycles are allowed in the priority seating area, which can hold up to five bikes or e-scooters per accessible diesel railcar or two bikes per Metra Electric car. However, bicycles cannot exceed 70 inches in size, and riders must allow those with disabilities and mobility devices to receive first priority. For more rules and information about bikes on the Chicago transit system, visit the CTA’s webpage here, and the Metra webpage here.
For bicycle parking in the city, bike racks and corrals are installed throughout the city, with options outside CTA rail stations, on the streets, and even in sheltered or indoor locations. A list of all bike racks in the city and their locations can be found here. You can also visit the Chicago government’s webpage on bike parking for more information!
Is Chicago e-bike friendly?
Chicago is a very bike friendly city, with various parks, sights, and scenery to explore on your e-bike! Some of the most popular bike trails include North Branch Trail, The Chicago Lakefront Trail, Major Taylor Trail, Des Plaines River Trail, Cal-Sag Trail, North Shore Channel Trail, Illinois Prairie Path, The 606, and Salt Creek Trail. To further plan your bike routes in the city, you can view an interactive map of the Chicago Bike Network here.
If you are looking to charge your e-bike while visiting Chicago, visit Chargehub to see where electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are located in the city. Additionally, if you are planning to utilize Chicago’s bikeshare system Divvy, the company has installed multiple e-bike docks in the city which house and charge their rentable e-bikes. These docks are located at Wilton Ave & Diversey Pkwy, Lincoln Ave & Roscoe St, Bissell St & Armitage Ave, Green St & Randolph St, and Morgan St & Lake St.
You can also rent an e-bike from a few other companies in Chicago! Bobby’s Bike Hike has an electric bicycle option that you can rent in half day or full day increments; Wheel Fun Rentals allows you to rent Class I e-bikes for 1 hour, half day, or full day; Earth Rider Cycling has e-bike options for hourly, half day, full day, 24 hour, and weekly increments; and lastly, the company Zoomo has a location in Chicago, and operates on a subscription service where riders can pay on a weekly basis for an e-bike rental.
If you are looking to do an e-bike tour while you’re visiting, there are a couple of options for you. First, Chicago E-bike offers a “Tour Downtown Chicago” e-bike tour, as well as a “Chicago Food Tour”. Group tours are also available through this company. Or if self-guided tours are more your speed, Wheel Fun Rentals will provide you with a comprehensive map, detailed directions, and various points of area to visit, at no additional cost if you are renting one of their e-bikes for a half or full day!
How is the weather and city traffic in Chicago? Is it fun to ride an e-bike in Chicago?
Rush hour traffic in Chicago typically runs between 6AM – 9AM and 4PM – 6PM on weekdays, and can be particularly heavy on interstate highways. Additionally, afternoon traffic tends to get the busiest on Thursdays and Fridays. As such, we recommend cyclists avoid riding during these times to avoid getting stuck on congested roads.
Experts advise that the best time to visit Chicago is between April and May, and September and October. This is because temperatures are still warm and pleasant, but the city is less crowded during these months than in the summertime. As a result, accommodations are also less expensive during the spring and fall seasons.
However, if you are thinking of visiting Chicago to check out a specific event or festival, view Choose Chicago’s list of annual events to plan accordingly. We also recommend cyclists avoid visiting during the winter months (November – March), as these months see freezing temperatures and extremely high winds.
While you’re in Chicago, don’t forget to check out the many museums, sites, and parks that the city has to offer! Some top attractions include The Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, 360 Chicago Observation Deck, Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Field Museum, Wrigley Field, The Magnificent Mile, Chicago Riverwalk, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Chicago Cultural Center. For more recommendations on sights to see in Chicago, visit Trip Advisor!
Chicago city landscape, the best type(s) of e-bikes to ride in this city
Chicago is geographically located on a flat plain, which is known for its unusual lack of topographical relief. As such, the city of Chicago is relatively flat and does not have many hills or uneven terrain. Because of this, a city cruiser or commuter e-bike will be suitable, particularly if you are planning to stay within the city.
However, if you are thinking of venturing outside the main city, there are certain regions with more rugged landscapes such as bluffs, ravines, and rock cliffs. If you are planning to explore these outer areas, we recommend using an electric mountain bike (eMTB) or a hybrid e-bike.
Where can I buy an e-bike in Chicago?
There are a number of different shops and companies where you can buy your e-bike in Chicago!
Erik’s Bike Shop has three locations in Chicago, and offers a large selection of e-bikes. Visitors can buy their e-bike online and get it shipped to them, pick it up in-store, or go straight to the store to buy an e-bike from there.
Similarly, Kozy’s has several locations in Chicago and offers online and in-store options to buy an e-bike. Other stores that offer both shipping and in-store pickup options include Village Cycle, J.C. Lind Bike, and Volton Bicycles.
Where can I repair an e-bike in Chicago?
If you need to get your e-bike repaired while you’re in Chicago, there are a few places you can go. Volton Bicycles specializes in e-bikes and offers a wide variety of repair services; Kozy’s also offers repair services, but most of their locations only service e-bikes that were purchased from them; and Electric Scooter Chicago offers e-bike repair services, but riders will first need to fill out an online form to get the process started.
Read also: Check out USA best travel destinations by electric bike in this overview article.
Where can I recycle e-bike batteries in Chicago?
If you need to dispose of your e-bike battery while you’re in Chicago, you have a couple of options!
According to Recycle by City, all rechargeable batteries can be disposed of at the City of Chicago’s Household Chemical and Computer Recycling Facility (HCCRF). Additionally, according to Call2Recycle, other locations where you can recycle e-bike batteries include Earth Rider Cycling, The Home Depot, Lowes, and UBreakIFix.
Now that you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need about e-cycling in Chicago, you’re ready to ride!