One of my favorite things about biking in Chicago is never getting stuck in traffic—there’s a certain pleasure in cruising past a lane of cars backed up a quarter mile at rush hour and hitting the light just as it turns green. Another is finding routes not open to cars, and the south end of Southport, at an industrial stretch of Cortland just east of the Chicago River’s North Branch, is my favorite. The odd little intersection boasts a traffic light, but the turn-in just looks like an entrance to the A. Finkl & Sons steel-manufacturing plant. A gate about 100 yards in blocks cars, but bikes can avoid the barrier arm by hopping over the sidewalk. After jogging left to where Kingsbury merges with Cortland, you’ll run into the Southport bike lane. At night you can glance into the foundry’s open doors as you pass—the glow of the molten steel is otherworldly.

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