Megy Karydes
commuting in chicago

Getting around Chicago can be as easy or frustrating as you make it.

Parking availability is not terribly predictable if you don’t have a garage or parking spot. And even if you’re lucky to score a spot, make sure it’s a legal parking spot and pay the meter. One minute over an expired meter can cost you.

With all its four-wheel woes, Chicago is incredibly commuting-friendly, if you know the tricks to getting around town.

Know the basics

Since the Chicago Fire in 1871 destroyed much of the city, it was rebuilt on a grid system.

Ground zero is Madison and State streets, located in downtown Chicago. From there, each block is numbered north, south, east and west in relation to that intersection. This system makes it easy to develop a general idea of where something is by their coordinates.

For example, Diversey is at the 2700 block north, Pulaski is 4000 west and so on. So if you need to get to 1400 N. Milwaukee, savvy Chicagoans will pinpoint the address to Wicker Park since the 1400 N block is near North Avenue.

Chicago is a walkable city. If walking isn’t an option, here are four recommendations, based on your budget and how many wheels you prefer to use.

1. Divvy

Divvy is Chicago’s bike share service and a steal. For a $99 annual fee, subscribers can access a bike every day, as often as they want, in 30-minute increments. Divvy stations are located throughout the city so it’s very convenient to grab one, bike near your destination and park it at another station.

2. CTA

If your destination is easily accessible by a bus or near an el(evated) station, opt for public transportation. Download one of the apps to keep you up-to-date on when the next bus or train is coming so you can limit when you’re stuck outside with the elements.

3. Parking reservation services

If you insist on driving and need to park downtown, use a parking reservation service like SpotHero or ParkWhiz to secure the best parking rate. For street meter parking, be sure to download the ParkChicago app which allows you to pay for street parking without needing to mess with quarters or a credit card.

4. Taxis and ridesharing services

Hailing a taxi cab or ride-share service is as easy as tapping some buttons on your phone to request one near your location.

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Ready to go?

Depending on where you live, it’s entirely possible to get around Chicago without a car. It just depends on how much you want to spend and how long you want to take to get to your destination.

Safe travels!

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About The Author

As a Chicago-based freelance writer, Megy Karydes has covered everything from space-aged tomato seeds grown in a Chicago Public School to Chicago Blues musician Lurrie Bell. Her work has been featured in USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Midwest Living magazine and other national and regional media outlets. When she's not out exploring the city with her two children and husband, she's perfecting her air hockey technique.

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