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Riding Tips

Riding a bike in Chicago has never been better. Whether you’re an experienced bike rider or new to city cycling, a few simple steps will make you feel more comfortable and confident riding in an urban environment.

Start by watching short videos about how to use the Divvy bikes and stations below.

Follow the Rules

In Chicago, cyclists must:

  • Follow traffic laws
  • Walk bikes on sidewalks
  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Ride with traffic

You must be at least 16 years old to ride Divvy. Bicycles are defined as vehicles under Illinois State law. That means cyclists have all the rights and are subject to all the duties and regulations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.

Bicyclists are required to use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where they’re going. When available, bicycle riders must use marked bike lanes or paths, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so.

You are not legally required to wear a helmet, but Divvy encourages you to do so.

Read more about Chicago Bike Laws, and the Illinois State Bicycle Rules of the Road.

Plan a Sensible Route

Chicago’s streets and parks offer a wide variety of bicycle lanes and paths, from shared traffic lanes to car-free greenways. Choosing a route that suits your skill and comfort levels has a significant impact on how confident you feel on two wheels.

Learn more about Chicago bicycle facilities by reading or downloading the below Bicycling Facilities Guide.

There are many ways to plot a route that makes sense for you:

Divvy Station Map - Click on Station Map above to find Divvy stations across the city. Make sure you know which station you’re heading to before you leave and plan. Using bike directions in Google Maps will offer routes with the highest proportion of bike lanes, rather than the most direct way to go.

Chicago Bike Map - Download the Chicago Bike Map, published annually by CDOT, for a detailed look at bike facilities throughout the city.

Ride the City - Ride the City offers an interactive route planning service for Chicago bicyclists, complete with a variety of options, including “safer,” “safe,” and “direct” routes.

Divvy App - For a complete station map with information on the available bikes or docks at each station, download the CycleFinder App for your iPhone or Android Device.

Do a Pre-Ride Check

Divvy maintains every bike to ensure they are in good condition and working properly. It’s always a good idea to give the bike a look over before starting a ride. If a bike isn’t working properly, lock it back into any Divvy dock, press the wrench button on the dock, and unlock a different bike.

Check the following before you set off:

Seat Height - Divvy seats are easily adjustable. Just release the clamp on the side of the seat post, raise or lower the seat to your preferred height and re-tighten the clamp. Make sure the clamp is tight and the seat can’t twist or sink. Typically a seat is at the right height when you can almost fully straighten your legs when pedaling.

Air - Push each tire hard against a curb or the ground. If you can flatten it, it needs air.

Wheel Spin - Lift each wheel up and give it a slow spin (spin the back wheel forward so the pedals don’t move). Check that the wheel spins freely and doesn’t rub against the brake pads or anything else.

Tires - Turn each wheel slowly and look for cuts, bulges or bubbles in the tire.

Brakes - Squeeze both brake levers to check that brakes are functional and feel strong.

Be Predictable

The more predictably you ride, the safer you are.

    • Don't weave in and out of traffic.
    • Use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where you're going.
    • Ride about four feet away from parked cars, avoiding "the door zone."
    • Don't ride distracted. It is illegal to ride with both headphones in.
    • Use your bell to alert drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists of your presence.

Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when marking turns or when it is unsafe to do so. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, you have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane.

Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout Chicago, even when no designated route exists.

Wear a Helmet

While it’s not required by law, Divvy encourages you to wear a helmet when you ride. Doing so dramatically reduces the risk of head injury in the event of a crash while bicycling. Divvy members receive a discount on helmets and other accessories at participating bike shops. Visit our Divvy Bike Shop Deals page for a full list of shops and details.

Always buckle the chin strap, and replace your helmet after any crash or whenever you see signs of damage.

Your helmet will be more effective (and will look and feel better) if it’s adjusted properly.
1. Wear it level on your head, about two finger-widths above your eyebrows.
2. Make sure the straps are snug. Only about two fingers should fit beneath the chin strap.
3. Your helmet should fit snugly on your head and not rock side-to-side. Use the foam pads that came with the helmet or the internal adjustor to fine-tune.