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DePaul study: Bicyclists have a leg up on some other commuters

A bicyclists cruises down the bike lane along Broadway Avenue, between Montrose and Foster in 2014. File Photo.

A DePaul University study has found that biking around the city often is faster than other transportation options, though researchers admit that most Chicagoans are likely to wait a few months to test their results.

Researchers traveled 45 routes across the city on mass transit, Uber Pool and at a leisurely pace aboard bikes, and found that biking from neighborhood to neighborhood within the city was faster than Ubering or hopping the CTA. Downtown, where bikes have to stop more often and Ubers and transit stops are more plentiful, the bikers fared worse.

Overall, including time to lock up a bike and put on and remove a helmet, bike trips took just under 41 minutes on average, about 90 seconds longer than the average Uber trip, and 10 minutes shorter than the average trip on the CTA.

The report also says that travel might be faster still if city leaders consider legalizing a common bicyclist misdeed of running stop signs and traffic lights when there is no other traffic at the intersection, the so-called “Idaho stop.”

The results came as no surprise to one of the researchers who worked on the study, Riley O’Neil, a cycling enthusiast who braved freezing temperatures Monday to bike to DePaul’s downtown campus from his home in Rogers Park.

“In good weather, you can know that a 4- or 5-mile trip is going to be 30 to 40 minutes in most parts of the city,” O’Neil said, noting that Chicago has seen a four-fold increase in bike-riding commuters since the 1990s.

“The biking culture in Chicago is growing. Though not everyone is going to want to gear up and ride on a day like today.”

According to the report, Chicago has the third-highest percentage of bike commuters among Illinois cities with 50,000 or more residents, trailing only Evanston and Champaign. The city notes bike-friendly developments in recent years in the city, like the 2013 launch of the Divvy bike-sharing kiosks around the city, protected bike lanes downtown and on major corridors, and the opening this year of the Bloomingdale Trail, better known as the 606.