Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, located in its Midwest region. It’s often mistaken as the capital of Illinois (Springfield is the actual capital city) because of its popular food and drinks, world-class museums, architecture, and music scene. Even though it’s not the capital of Illinois, it is the most visited city, and with good reason.
If you’re planning a visit to Chicago, you’re likely going to want to see some of the most popular places, and you’re going to need a way to get around. There are five main modes of transportation in Chicago, and here’s a look at the pros and cons of each.
Biking (not to be confused with motorcycles) in general is a great way to get around almost any city because of the many benefits it offers. It’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise, as well as a great leg and core strengthening exercise. Biking also reduces your carbon footprint because it releases no CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the air. Finally, it is a great way to explore Chicago at your own pace, especially when the weather is nice.
With that being said, one of the downsides to biking is that it can be difficult (and dangerous) during inclement weather. You also have to be physically able to bike around a big city like Chicago.
Driving is how most people get around, whether they’re in a large or small city. It’s convenient because you can arrive and leave as you please without having to adhere to a strict schedule. When exploring Chicago by car (a rental or your own), you save both time and money compared to other forms of transportation.
However, driving isn’t free, especially if you have a rental car. You also have to put gas in your car, and it may not always be a time-saver— particularly during rush hour traffic. Chicago is a very driveable city, but it isn’t free of traffic jams, being the third most populous city in the U.S.
#3: Public Transportation
Public transportation normally gets a bad reputation, but many cities have mastered the art of public transport, and Chicago is one of them. Chicago’s public transportation system is made up of trains and buses, and both systems are fairly easy to navigate.
One of the downsides to public transportation in Chicago (and many other cities) is that both trains and buses can be delayed. This can become a problem if you’re on a tight schedule. It can also be more dangerous than other forms of transportation, especially at night.
Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular rideshare services, in Chicago and all over the U.S. Chicago even has its own rideshare service called Curb. These services are a great alternative to public transportation, especially when there are delays. They are a little pricier than public transportation, but they can be very convenient during delays.
Rideshare services are also generally safe, but that doesn’t mean that certain incidents don’t happen. For example, some people have been injured in an Uber while visiting Chicago. Auto accidents can happen in these vehicles just as they can in any other type of vehicle.
Walking has many of the same benefits as riding a bike. It’s one of the easiest forms of exercise compared to other forms, and it’s also a very environmentally friendly way to get around. Although Chicago is a big city, it’s very walkable, with many tourist attractions located within walking distance of one another. There are also many scenic trails you can follow.
Again, like biking, the weather has to be permitted to truly enjoy all of the benefits it has to offer. You also need to be physically able, even though Chicago is a walkable city. Walking is also the most time-consuming way to get around, so walking by itself is not the best option when you’re trying to explore all of Chicago.
Overall, the best method of transportation depends on how you plan to spend your time in Chicago. It also may be necessary to combine multiple forms of transportation to get the best possible experience in the Windy City. Just make sure that you understand the pros and cons of each way of transportation, and plan accordingly, if possible. Some forms of transportation may be better than others in certain circumstances, and planning ahead will allow you to make the best decisions.