The following is some of the key information to keep in mind when renting a bike in the Windy City:
Things to Note when Renting a Bike in Chicago
Even though renting a bike may be easier than renting a car, you still need to fulfill some requirements and conditions you must agree to. Here are some of those:
- Valid ID: You would most likely not be required to show a driver’s license when renting a bike, but you would definitely be needed to present a valid ID issued by the government. It must have your picture and must show that you are 18 or above since you can also rent bikes for minors.
- Payment method: Most bike rental services accept credit or debit cards as means of payment, with VISA, MasterCard, and American Express being some of the most widely accepted ones. Furthermore, if you rent a bike using an app, you may pay using your card or get a membership (if you opt for this, make sure to find out whether you need to pay at once or in installments). Payments using cash aren’t usually accepted.
- Minimum rental duration: When you rent a bike, you must find out about the minimum amount of time you must keep. Most bike rental services have a minimum rental duration of at least one hour, though it could vary. This means that you would be charged according to the set number of hours you wish to ride the bike and that you would not be able to get a reduced price even if you return it before those hours are complete.
- Reservations: Make sure to find out if you need to reserve a bike in advance or whether you can show up at the location and rent it then and there. Some companies need you to book a bike at least a day in advance, while others allow you to select a bike at the spot or unlock it from a station using an app. Also, keep in mind that you may need to inform the company of any cancellations or modifications well in advance.
- Pick up and drop off: Depending upon the service you go for, you may need to pick up your bike from a particular location and drop it off there itself once you are done riding, or you may have the flexibility to pick it up from one station and drop it off elsewhere.
- Taking care of the bike and the equipment: Since the bike belongs to a company and not to you, it is important that you take good care of it and don’t leave it just about anywhere. Make sure to lock it if you park it and go somewhere for a while. Also, take good care of the equipment that comes with the bike, such as the helmet and the U-lock.
Rules to follow when Biking Around Chicago
When you decide to rent a bike during your stay in Chicago, make sure you fully understand all the traffic rules that apply to bikers and adhere to them. Here are 10 of those to keep in mind:
- Always wear your helmet when riding a bike, even if you aren’t riding amidst heavy traffic.
- Keep off of the sidewalks since they are meant for pedestrians only; riding a bike on the sidewalks is illegal.
- Make sure to ride in the bike lanes only. However, if there are no usable bike lanes, keep to the far right of the road, keeping about a 3-4 feet distance between the curb and the cars.
- Keep your hands on the handles and all times and do not look at your phone as you are riding and avoid eating or drinking anything either.
- Before you take a bike into the city with the purpose of riding it around, make sure to do a short test run before renting it out.
- The law requires that bikers always ride with the traffic so ensure that you are going in the same direction as the cars.
- Do not ignore any traffic lights or signs since they apply to bikers just as much as they do to car drivers.
- Traffic in the city can get quite hectic and riding a bike may become difficult. In order to avoid getting stuck somewhere, plan out your route in advance.
- Since it is much easier to steal a bike than it is to steal a car, do not forget to lock it.
- Given that there are no in-built indicators in a bike to let others know where you are going, use your hands. For instance, stick your left hand straight out if you intend to turn left.
5 Best Chicago Bike Rental Companies:
1. Bike and Roll Chicago
A fairly popular bike rental service in the city, Bike and Roll Chicago has four locations scattered around Chicago. They are known for the different kinds of bikes they rent out, including hybrid bikes, tandem bikes, 4-person quad bikes, road bikes, kids’ bikes, and more. Moreover, they also provide you with helmets, biking maps, keyed U-locks, handlebar pouches, and other items that would be helpful. Based on the bike you choose and how long you rent it, you may need to pay USD 13 to USD 45.
Address: 239 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601, United States
2. Bobby’s Bike HikeBobby’s Bike Hike is an excellent bike rental service to pick if you are in Chicago since they offer both traditional and electric bikes, and there are plenty of options within these two categories. Many bikes are capable of going at various speeds, seating more than one person, and coming with different kinds of brakes. Depending on the model you pick and the rental duration, you could end up paying anything between USD 7 and USD 85.
Address: 540 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611, United States
If you want a rental service that provides you with much more flexibility than the rest, go for Divvy. An initiative by Lyft, it has over 600 stations all around Chicago. It lets you unlock a bicycle from any of the locations, ride it around and then return to any location, not necessarily the one that you picked it up from. It is convenient for both locals and tourists and gives you the option to get a membership (USD 8.25/month), an Explorer Pass (USD 15/day), or go on a single ride (USD 3/trip).
Address: Damen Ave & Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, United States
4. Lakeshore Bike
Situated close to Lakefront Trail, Lakeshore Bike is essentially a shop that deals with bike-related repairs and rents them out. They offer bikes suitable for simply riding around the city, racing, or riding on slightly rocky terrain. Furthermore, they also sell biking equipment such as helmets and assure you of quick and top quality service, all at reasonable prices.
Address: 3650 N Recreation Dr, Chicago, IL 60613, United States
5. Earth Rider Cycling
A woman-owned business, Earth Rider Cycling is dedicated to providing you excellent bike rental services, whether you are looking to ride one around for a short duration of testing one out before purchasing. They have road bikes, hybrid bikes, electric bikes, and much more, and also provide helmets, U-locks, and route maps with each rental. The amount you pay for renting a bike would depend on how long you keep it, as well as the model.
Address: 1873 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, United States
How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Bike in Chicago?The Average Cost for Bike Rentals in Chicago is USD 7 - USD 85 depending on the type of Bike and the duration for which you're renting the bike.
Is Biking in Chicago Safe?While Biking in any City is relatively safe when compared to Driving or Riding, one must be aware of the rules and regulations that follow. Follow safe biking measures and the experience can be stress-free.
Where can I Ride Bikes in Chicago?There are 7 Most Popular Biking Trails in Chicago:
- Des Plaines River Trail
- Lakefront Trail
- North Shore Channel Trail
- North Branch Trail
- Major Taylor Trail
- Illinois Prairie Path
- Valley Line Trail
Is it Illegal to Ride a Bike without Helmet?No, it's not illegal but definitely not Safe. It's always advised to wear a helmet while riding a bike.
Do Bikes have to Stop at Stop Signs in Chicago?As per the state laws, bicyclist are liable to follow all traffic rules, but the laws are not strictly enforced.
Chicago is perhaps the best city for cycling in the United States. If you wish to experience what it is like biking around the Windy City, check out the various bike rental companies that are sure to offer the best service.