Let’s take a bike ride next to the Lake Michigan and see what our impressions are of the neighborhoods we ride through.

We start in south Evanston.  We can ride on a path of some sort next to the lake all the way to Lincoln St in north Evanston, about 2-3 miles.   We see lovely sandy beaches on our right (i.e to the east) and on our left we see families barbecuing or picnicking.   We pass playgrounds, tennis courts and enter the grounds of Northwestern University.  We bike around a lovely lagoon.  We pause and look back south to take in a fantastic view of downtown Chicago.

Our impressions of Evanston are pretty good so far: nice bike path, nice views, generous provision of public goods.  This impression fades a little after Lincoln.  We continue north, perhaps heading east on Central and then north again on Ridge St. Or we take a big risk and ride on Sheridan.  Potholes whichever way we go.  And fast cars if we go on Sheridan.  We amend our impression of Evanston: perhaps the local government isn’t as flush with cash as we thought.

Then, we enter Wilmette. We have to bike on the road but there is a lovely bike lane. All smooth and fast. We start thinking we’re pretty fit as we pick up speed. We realize we’re heading downhill so maybe not. We pass a lovely Bahai Temple. We try getting closer to the lake to recreate our wonderful Evanston experience.  Big mistake: many parts of the road are cobbled to slow down traffic.  Our arms get tired and we feel the beginning of a backache.  So, we head back to Sheridan and ride along the road looking at the large houses and wondering how much they cost.  By the time we leave Wilmette, we have a mixed impression.  Nice bike path but are the cobbles really necessary?  Sure they slow down cars but Wilmette ain’t no urban metropolis – there’s no traffic  to slow down in the first place.  We remember why we decided not to move to Wilmette but are happy they have a nice bike path.

Next, we ride into Kenilworth.  The houses are even larger.  There’s the odd McMansion but it’s hard to see behind the trees, at the end of a long drive.  The bike lane suddenly disappears and we’re left high and dry.  At least the road is wide and Kenilworth is small and we enter  Winnetka.  The road narrows. More potholes than Evanston.  Have we crossed a boundary back into a poor neighborhood? We look around.  A line of mutant double-cheeseburger-meets-big-macs homes as far as the eye can see.  Surely richer than Evanston.  We conclude that they are deliberately not maintaining the road to keep interlopers out of their chi-chi town.  We’re a little disgusted and anyway we’re risking our life riding on this road.

We cut across to the Green Bay Trail.  We realize that riding along the lakefront, seeing all those big houses, has triggered avarice and envy.  We’re a little disgusted at having fallen prey to such base emotions.  We hunker down and pedal hard, ignoring Glencoe and Highland Park.