I’m all for cycling infrastructure and keeping the lanes clear. That said, I do have a soft spot for the chaos that was cycling in Chicago a decade ago. Chicago’s well behind the more progressive cities in building protected bike lanes, bike signals etc, but they’re slowly getting there.
For the majority of the time I lived there it was one gigantic free for all. Sure, there’s a bike lane on Milwaukee and it’s a perfect place to get doored, run into people walking out between parallel parked cars, double parked cabs, buses stopped in the street because the stop was blocked, jaywalkers running everywhere, skateboarders holding on to delivery trucks, all this twice as bad in Wicker Park on a weekend night because everyone’s drunk. Or add a friendly snow storm, or better yet, crusty black ice mud from last week’s storm.
Often the best way to head north/south was to jump on Ashland or Western, take a lane, and just go like the dickens. Is it as safe as puttering down residential streets? Nah, but it was certainly effective.