Capitalism is the Driving force behind Automobiles
Major transformation. Outside the box thinking is not 10% improvement. This is a very common motif. Instead, let's think about 10x improvement! This is when major change occurs.
Convert 4/5 streets to bike-pedestrian only. At intersections with automobile, create bike-lane bridges to cross over automobile traffic. Need to create solutions to deal with parking, package delivery, garbage trucks, moving trucks, emergency vehicles, etc.
Convert major 4-6 lane thoroughfares to two-lane with two to four lanes of bike and pedestrian.
Covered and heated bike lanes for 24/7/365 commuting, removable covering for nice weather.
At least one dedicated (i.e., same as the 606) north-south cross-city bike lane every eight city blocks. (Note that by dedicated, the concept is same as the 606 and lakefront trail, i.e., complete separated from automobile traffic - although lakefront does occasionally meet automobiles at intersections.)
Completely separate cars and bikes, cars and pedestrians.
Downsize all cars to mini-EVs or even mini grid-connected vehicles.
Limit speed limits to 15mph.
Any thoughts on this? Let's get the conversation started.
One quick story. A friend is doing a study on noise and sound pollution and how it is not only damaging to long-term health but also is disorienting in the short-term! What does this lead to in terms of biking? With this in mind, for the past month I have been transitioning from major thoroughfares to back-roads for my 7.5 mile daily city commute. This has been a lot of fun! (In fact, I've had a long-term mantra of taking the "road least traveled" in many aspects of my life.) The reduction in noise and exhaust pollution is incredible, not to mention a feeling of less stress. Speaking for the northeast area, for example, a few roads with bike lanes that are also major thoroughfares are of course Milwaukee, Clybourn, Elston, Damen. Shared bike lanes with big roads are super-important for safety. But in reality, a quiet lane to oneself really great! Is it 10x better? It means mostly missing diagonals, such as Lincoln, Milwaukee, Clybourn, Elston. But on a 50-minute ride it only adds about 5-10 minutes in total, with mileage increasing from 7.5 to between only 8.5 and 9.5. What are your thoughts on backroads versus major thoroughfares?
I like the idea of making some streets bike/ped only. Not sure 4/5 is necessary. I also like congestion pricing:
My guess is that if it reduces congestion in the downtown area where it's implemented, it will have significant effects on the "feeder" roads leading to downtown. For example, LSD, Broadway and Clark on the North side. Riding buses on them would probably be faster than driving today. Streets like Kenmore and Winthrop (again north side, that's where my riding experience is concentrated) could simply be made bike/ped/delivery only.
Don't know if you've done much bike touring. But I've ridden across the US. And out west there are no bikeable back roads; interstates are your only option. Interstates are filled with semis, box trucks, campers, heavy traffic generally. But I love to ride them. Because despite the exhaust, noise, debris and rumble-strips, interstates are DIRECT, pavement is GOOD, and ups and downs are GRADED AWAY! You FLY on busy roads improved for cars. Bike paths are for wimps. If you're afraid to ride with cars you're not a real biker. Take off the training wheels, screw up your courage, and just do it! Cars won't hit you as long as they can see you.
I've even taken to riding interstates here in the midwest, where it is forbidden. And I've never been questioned by a cop. By my estimate, you can cut your riding time in HALF on an interstate! Bike paths may be quieter, but most of the time I bike to get places, not enjoy nature. If I want to see the birds and bees, I'll lose the bike, and go for a HIKE!
Thanks for the reply. Interesting to hear about bike touring. Have not done this. Have lived in a number of rural area and so understand "backroads" are mainly city-only experience. From September of last year up to last month (March), five days a week I was taking various routes such as Lincoln from Irving Park to Halsted, south to UIC. Many different versions of this, such as California from Irving Park to Milwaukee, to Halsted. Only thinking outside the box here. Noise and exhaust pollution cause health and stress disorders, hearing problems, cardiovascular issues, fatigue, hypertension. For 10% increase in time and 10% increase in mileage, backroads here in the city provide 10x (?) reduction in noise, 10x (?) reduction in exhaust pollution.
Huh, I think I've seen this show before. Clp, your vast experience of riding across the wide open expanses of the western United States is rather irrelevant regarding a discussion of alternative transportation planning in a densely populated major city like Chicago. Your dismissive, elitist attitude towards other cyclists who you deem not "real" is beyond tiresome. It's not that your opinions are merely "non-conformist" -- you repeat your "points" ad nauseam. "Cars won't hit you as long as they can see you" -- one could drive a truck through that defense / argument.
For what it's worth, I personally don't have any real need for bike lanes myself as I am quite comfortable riding in traffic, racking up 10,000 miles a year largely on arterial city streets. However, I recognize that many/most cyclists don't have the same hutzpah, and I don't shame them for where they feel comfortable nor how they get their ride on. So you ride to get from Point A to Point B and not "commune with nature" -- other's mileage may vary.
This is a picture from a site called Bicycle Transportation Systems. It is a design I've always fantasized about when riding out in cold wet weather or even on blazingly hot summer days. To have a tailwind pushing a rider along covered from the elements covered in solar panels, making long commutes into the city from places like O'Hare and such a literal breeze.
Agreed. But even just some partial shade in the summer would be enough. Also, that train needs to be electric! Being new to Chicago, seeing Metra diesels for the first time puffing smoke in downtown Chicago was a little surprising. In the northeast, Amtrak runs electric locomotives. North on NYC, around Connecticut, the electric locomotives detach and are replaced by diesel. Just saying, run the train off some of that excess solar!
South Korea has the right idea but it needs better thought IMO.
But where will I ride my unicorn?
Juan, that picture is similar to what I'd envisioned for something along the Metro line to decongest Elston and Milwaukee, and separate the cars and bikes with more room for both. It'd be nicer if the bikes were UNDER the superstructure for shelter, but it is all a great idea.
The current infrastructure is collapsing due to lack of funding, so where is the money coming from to build these pipe dreams?
Deteriorating infrastructure is certainly an issue. Many political issues in this regard. I would respond by pointing out that 1) cars are the worst form of mass transit (Europe has known this for some time and are waiting for US to realize it; in the 50s, well-known transit designers knew this); 2) excess money has been put into this backwards technology, mostly in the form of roads, but as well in all the supporting infrastructure of cities to this mode of transit - think not just roads but zoning of cities to best accommodate automobiles; 3) allowing buses and trucks (heavy!) on roads is a complete waste of money as they immediately destroy roadways. For (1-2): Sustainable transportation and development essentially is a call for first, low-impact mass transit, and second, reducing long distances between travel destinations in a city (think going 2 miles to work rather than 30). For (3): Do 10x better by putting this cargo on low-capacity freight lines - or even conveyor belts! It's about time that city neighborhoods call for reappropriation of the land which highways stole in the 50s-60s. There's plenty of money when 10x cost of focusing on automobiles in urban settings is replaced with 1x cost of mass transit in compact spaces, not to mention the saved costs in health benefits of increased physical activity associated with a car-free lifestyles.
TLDR: Let highways rot - they're not worth it anyway!