Install the update now with Open House Chicago sites

The Lyric Opera House is one of 167 Open House Chicago sites.

The Lyric Opera House is one of 167 Open House Chicago sites.

Open iTunes or the App Store to get the latest version of the Chicago Bike Guide, the only iPhone app with the 150+ Open House Chicago architecture and building sites (download the app).

This event, coming on Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, opens 167 buildings, warehouses, skyscrapers, churches, corporate offices, and other sites to the public.

The Chicago Bike Guide is the only iOS app that maps all of them and gives you bicycling directions.

Upcoming release: version 0.9.2 brings burrito and Point of Interest updates

A new fixit stand was installed outside the 600 W Chicago Ave. Groupon office, on Larrabee at Kingsbury. Photo by @ChiCritMass

A new version is coming soon, in August, that brings a half dozen new burrito reviews, more bicycling-related points of interest (including a new fixit stand location), and some interface improvements.

Are there other changes you would like to see in the Chicago Bike Guide? Leave a comment below or email us.

New map greatly expands bikeway coverage – no download necessary

Before & after image of new map process

Old and new maps show how the new map update process expands the number of bike lanes and paths the Chicago Bike Guide covers.

Open the Chicago Bike Guide right now and you’ll find bike lanes and paths in dozens of new cities. As announced earlier this year I’ve switched to a new map update process that eliminates redundant map editing and will lead to more frequent map updates and expand the mapped area.

(Make sure you’re running the latest version – which came out in March – in iTunes or Google Play to be able to use the new map.)

Check out the before and after images above* of the Chicago Bike Guide map coverage area. This is made possible by switching over to using only OpenStreetMap data, where data is contributed by regular folks and made available for free to be used for any purpose.

Using OpenStreetMap data means that if a resident in Carol Stream edits the map to include a new bike path in a new subdivision, Chicago Bike Guide users will see that information in a couple weeks instead of not at all (because I could only add bike lanes I knew about in Chicago).

The new process also means that I can easily expand the map area to include bike lanes and paths in Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, mapped by residents there.

Today I added bike lanes to Harrison Street and Noble Street in Chicago. These will appear on OpenStreetMap within minutes and within two weeks in the Chicago Bike Guide.

* As the images flick back and forth you may notice that some bikeway in “before” are missing from “after”. These are likely due to the bikeways missing from OpenStreetMap and will be corrected in a future map update.

Half of weekend profits are going to Bikes ‘N’ Roses

Oscar Rivera is the 25-year-old manager of Bikes ‘N’ Roses in Albany Park, a local bike shop that hires neighborhood high school students, teaching them how to build and repair bicycles. You can read more about the shop’s mission on Streetsblog Chicago.


Rivera, right, helps a student with a headset. Photo by Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield.

Oscar is being honored this morning at Bike To Work Day Rally in Daley Plaza with a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council award in the individual category for his work on Bikes ‘N’ Roses. Oscar and I met while joining the brand-new 33rd Ward Transportation Action Committee earlier this year.

I want to support his work, and that of the bike shop, by donating half of all profits from Chicago Bike Guide sales this weekend (Friday, June 20, through Sunday, June 22, 2014).

I’ll also be adding the shop to the Points of Interest page alongside West Town Bikes.

Fix now available for map loading bug

Chicago Bike Guide map error

A screenshot of the Chicago Bike Guide showing the map loading error that has been fixed.

New to the app? It’s free this weekend!

Since Wednesday the streets map wouldn’t load. You could still see the bike lanes, and all Divvy stations and points of interest. But the base map’s URL changed and I didn’t realize it until Thursday night.

I fixed this bug on Friday and uploaded a new version of the app to Apple for review on Friday afternoon.

The new version of the app, which fixes the map loading problem, and restores the missing Repair & Rentals page, is now available in the App Store. (Apple approved the new version in about 24 hours – a record for the Chicago Bike Guide.)

A better Amtrak + bike guide

Glenview Amtrak station on the map.

Glenview Amtrak station on the map.

I’ve added more Amtrak information to the latest version of the Chicago Bike Guide to make it easier to understand which lines have roll-on bike service and which stations sell bike boxes for the lines that don’t have roll-on service.

Take a glance at the “Other Stations” page – denoted by a bus because it includes Megabus and Greyhound information – to see which Amtrak stations allow you to roll-on to the routes that stop there.

For example, in the screenshot below you see that Glenview is a stop on the Hiawatha train from Chicago to Milwaukee. It only allows bikes on board in boxes, and the boxes aren’t sold at the Glenview station. Note that Amtrak allows folding bikes as simple luggage.

Amtrak stations in the new Chicago Bike Guide

Easy information about which stations and routes have roll-on service.

Below the Glenview station you see a listing for the Hammond-Whiting station in Illinois. At this station you can walk on with your bicycle on the Wolverine train to Michigan (reservation required). The station doesn’t sell bike boxes.

Demo this feature now.

Not all nearby Amtrak stations within the map view are included yet – only those nearest to Chicago.

Version 0.9.0 released with new design and faster Divvy info

The new view of the home screen gives you a better view of the nearest Divvy stations as well as Notices and photos people post with the hashtag #bikeCHI.

The new view of the home screen gives you a better view of the nearest Divvy stations as well as Notices and photos people post with the hashtag #bikeCHI.

It’s been several months in the making and the latest version of the Chicago Bike Guide is now available for iOS. It comes with a new, flat design, performance improvements, and the fastest Divvy status load times. Open iTunes on your desktop or the App Store on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to download the latest version or buy it for $0.99 cents.

What’s new

  • Completely redesigned home screen
  • Divvy station status updates faster than ever
  • Get directions to the nearest two Divvy stations almost immediately
  • Find campgrounds you can bike to!
  • Faster switching between sort methods on stations and places pages
  • View weather in Fahrenheit and Celsius
  • Get turn-by-turn directions
  • See all #bikeCHI photos, from Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, and Twitter

As always, you can demo the newest features for free online.


  • More Amtrak information: which routes have walk-on bike service and which stations serve these routes
  • More Amtrak stations
  • Better place searching (still uses Foursquare but adds Esri’s geocoder)
  • Tells you when Divvy goes offline (for inclement weather)
  • Better-quality bicycling directions
  • Sort points of interest (now called Places) by category
  • More burrito joints

In this version I skipped a couple numbers, from 0.8.7 to 0.9.0 because of the all-new design and significant features improvements.