Boulevard Lakefront Tour (BLT) routes are designed by bicycling experts and feature an assortment of bike-friendly streets. As much as possible, BLT organizers created routes with minimal traffic, safe crossings with signals and the most straightforward turns – while also taking riders to interesting sights and neighborhoods. Congratulate yourself, post-ride, with a break at the festival!
Choose 14, 28, 36 or 63-mile route options. Not sure about riding on streets with traffic? Participants of the 14-mile route can also sign up for Safe City Cycling and learn how to ride confidently and safely on city streets.
Routes are not closed to car traffic; riders share the road and must adhere to all traffic rules and regulations.
Participation requires you to actively follow and navigate your ride. Each rider receives a ride guide specific to your chosen route. The ride guide includes a route map, a cue sheet with turn-by-turn directions and points of historic, architectural and visual interest along the way. Riders need to actively navigate their route by following route markings (painted route stencils on the street) and consulting their ride guide to help direct you on the tour. Signs and strategically placed volunteers assist in assuring you’re on the right route.
The Boulevard Lakefront Tour starts and finishes at Circle Memorial Grove on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus (Morgan & Taylor Streets). Riders are released in waves during the starting time windows listed below.
If it’s your first time riding on city streets, be sure to sign up for the Safe City Cycling course.
The Boulevard Lakefront Tour benefits the Active Transportation Alliance’s work to improve bicycling, walking and transit in Chicagoland. The ride takes place rain or shine; no refunds are available.
Riders start 9–9:30 a.m.
The 14-mile route is great for families and newer riders who prefer a shorter route at a leisurely pace. The 14-mile route guides you through a distinct Chicago neighborhood every two miles. Starting from the UIC Campus, riders travel southbound through Chinatown, Near South Side and Bridgeport then eastbound through the Bronzeville and Douglas neighborhoods and onto the Chicago’s beautiful lakefront. Traveling northbound along the lakefront trail riders pass through Burnham Park, then turn westbound onto the boulevards to enjoy the views on Oakwood and Martin Luther King Drive. Riders then pause for a break at the historic Douglas Tomb Monument for water and snacks. On the return portion, riders pass US Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox and cross the great Chicago River on the Lower West Side. The route passes many parks, historic homes, and architecturally significant buildings. Join us to explore this 14-mile taste of Chicago – an ideal distance for families or the beginning rider. Average riders will complete this route in a little under three hours.
Fourteen Mile Riders also have an opportunity to learn how to ride safely in city traffic by signing up for the Safe City Cycling course.
Riders start 8:15–9 a.m.
Fourteen miles not quite enough for you? Then double your mileage on the 28-mile route. This route shares the first 8 miles of the 14-mile route through University Village, the Near South Side, Bridgeport, Bronzeville and Douglas neighborhoods. Then 28-mile riders will continue further south along the Lake Front to Hyde Park before returning north on the boulevard system to reach a fully supported rest stop with water, snacks and restrooms, at the site of the Historic Douglas Tomb Monument. Proceeding west the route winds past US Cellular Field, the Chicago River, and Douglas Park before stopping at a 2nd Rest Stop in Garfield Park. This route passes through some of Chicago’s premier public parks, many historic houses, and significant buildings. An average rider will complete this 28-mile route in about five hours.
Riders start 7–8 a.m.
Chicago bike explorers, this 36-mile route is for you. We’re taking you south along the Lakefront Trail to Hyde Park where we’ll pass through the gorgeous architecture of the University of Chicago, and many historic homes along the boulevard system. Heading Northwest the route continues through Bronzeville, Bridgeport, and the lower west side on the way to visit three of Chicago’s premiere green spaces, Douglas Park, Garfield Park, and the 606, a new elevated park built on a former rail line in Logan Square. The 36-mile route is perfect for those who want to see the city on an extended ride. Two fully supported rest stops will refuel riders with water, snacks and restrooms at the site of the Historic Douglas Tomb Monument and in Garfield Park. This route will take an average rider a little under six hours to complete.
Riders start 6:30–7 a.m.
Want to step up to the ultimate riding challenge? This 63-mile route is designed for the experienced rider or extreme bicycle enthusiast. It follows much of the 36-mile route with a northern extension. Like the 36-mile route, riders enjoy a long stretch of the southern Lakefront Trail before revisiting our original Boulevard Lakefront Tour location in Hyde Park on the University of Chicago campus. Heading northwest on the boulevard system, riders pass historic homes and classic Chicago architecture in Bronzeville, Bridgeport, and the lower west side on their way to a fully supported rest stop in Garfield Park. Continuing through the city’s northwest side, riders reach Forest Glen and enjoy a quiet ride on the North Branch Trail through Niles and into Morton Grove where a third rest stop waits at Harrer Park. After refueling at the northernmost point, riders turn south back into the city and continue down to Logan Square where they will enjoy a ride along the 606, a 2-mile elevated park built on a former rail line. Three full rest stops support and refuel riders along this route at the Historic Douglas Tomb Monument, Garfield Park, and Harrer Park, and additional water stops will also be available throughout the route. Average cyclists will complete this route in a little under 7 hours, but we know you can be faster.