Route Hack: Downtown Elgin to Summit grocery stores

Like all travel routes, everyone has there favorites and starting from just a little different place makes all the difference in what route you might choose to use. Here is my hack for getting from Downtown Elgin to the three different grocery stores on Summit, not to mention the various retail and service locations in the area.

I begin by going east on Division Street. This enables me to stay on a quieter street, and cross all of the minor arterials (most significantly Center Street) by using traffic lights. Both of the traffic lights in downtown will pick up a bike rider that stops at the white line at the intersection (your patience will be rewarded). The rest of the stretch of Division is a quiet neighborhood street with stop signs and Elgin's only mini-traffic circle. The mini-traffic circle is a yield situation, so keep an eye out for the next vehicle to approach the intersection.

The next move is to head north on Hill Avenue and then shortly heading east on Park Street. All of these streets continue to stay in slower and lower volume traffic. Park is part of a Pace Bus route, but the street is relatively wide and slow speeds. Park crosses Liberty Street, which is perhaps the most "exciting" part of the route. There are no controlled intersections on Liberty between Chicago Street and Summit Street. This means that crossing Liberty, with its two oversized lanes, can require a lot of patience to wait for a safe gap in the traffic.

After crossing Liberty, Park connects to Grand Boulevard. Grand, despite its wide lanes, is a
pretty quiet ride north to Grand Avenue. Grand Ave connects to Hiawatha Drive. This is the first option, with the ability to go north on Hiawatha and slide into the parking lot for Aldi. The other option is to drop onto the sidewalk from Grand Ave to use the pedestrian tunnel underneath Summit. This comes out on the other side of Summit on Hiawatha. When using a sidewalk with a bike, I believe that I need to be yielding to pedestrians, so please be mindful of people walking in this section of the route.

On the north side of Summit, I like to merge back into the Hiawatha traffic flow, which requires a head on a swivel to check of traffic from both directions and a curb drop to get back onto the street from the sidewalk. The quicker merge is most helpful to cross the street to Elgin Fresh Market's plaza. To continue on to Jewel-Osco, head north on Hiawatha and then turn east on Jefferson Avenue. Jefferson comes across the north side of all of the shopping complexes and after crossing Waverly Drive, use the north entrance into the Jewel-Osco plaza that passes right by Subway.

None of these grocery stores have bike racks. The most secure pedal parking available at each location is to lock up to the cart corrals, while trying to stay out of the cart use areas and car traffic areas. None of this is ideal, and hopefully these retailers will see the wisdom in providing appropriate bike accommodations soon.

I hope this route hack opens up some possibilities for you for using a bike in Elgin. Groceries by bike is one of my favorites. I'll get into cargo by bike possibilities in a future post.

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