The Chainlink

 

This is Virginia Beach. It's how the LFP should be, only with wider bike lanes. The LFP is a victim of it's own success and We, The People, of Chicago, need to get our heads around the idea of a radical remodel. Such a remodel would be necessarily expensive, but hey the LFP is that popular the remodel would surely be worth it, huh? Yes, it surely would!

I originally posted this as a reply to the 'Death of a Cyclist' discussion, but on reflection, I think the Virginia Beach model deserves a discussion of it's own.

 

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S said:

I'm aware of induced demand and that's not really applicable since I'm not advocating for more roads.  I didn't know about the converse but even your sources say that traffic evaporation only reduces traffic by about 20-40%.  That still means that there's going to be about 60k-70k of cars that use LSD that get shunted to local roads and expressways.  I don't see how that can be dealt with efficiently with the current infrastructure.  

It can't. The current number of cars in the city cannot possibly be dealt with efficiently, whether we choose to have an eight-lane highway on our lakefront or not. We'll still have our traffic jams either way. The question is whether we want to have them on the lakefront.

S said:

Your last paragraph is a strawman attack.  I never mentioned adding more roads, I was merely asking how the existing traffic gets dealt with if LSD gets depaved.

The choice is between more roads for cars or fewer, between having infrastructure dedicated to automobiles or having it dedicated to other things.  Existing traffic gets dealt with by not having it.  More roads = more cars.  Fewer roads = fewer cars.  It's a very simple correlation.
One thing I don't see addressed is how do the transit needs of people on the south side get addressed without LSD.  The current transit options would require them to take a bus or two and then hop on the L to get north since there isn't a L line that goes along the lakefront south of the loop.

 

Yes, transit access is a problem on the South Side. I'm not sure how having Lake Shore Drive around helps solve this problem, or how getting rid of it makes it worse. Instead of spending money maintaining a highway, we could spend it on mass transit infrastructure.
James BlackHeron said:

This is true.  Traffic dissapears after the infrastructure is no longer there to carry it.

So do jobs and the economy. 

Okay, then Detroit should be doing a lot better than Chicago.  Whose job is going to disappear because Lake Shore Drive isn't around?  Whose job depends on it now?

They had the I-90/94 expressway completely closed for almost a year, and after some initial readjustment difficulties, everyone still managed to get to work.  The same will hold true in the absence of Lake Shore Drive.
Carter O'Brien said:

Dan,  if you want to make changes even remotely on the level you're proposing, you are going to need to sell motorists, and everyone who benefits from the commerce LSD facilitates.  Having a condescending attitude about drivers as a whole is counterproductive, many - if not most - cyclists drive as well as bike.

I don't need to sell anyone on anything. This is a discussion about what we want the lakefront to look like. I'm telling you what I want it to be. That said, though, sure, I want more people on board with depaving LSD. And with reducing the number of cars in the city in general. But that's a tough sell for drivers, so if you have any thoughts about how to do that, I'm all ears. Also, I do use different rhetoric here on the bikey discussion forum than I might use in other arenas. But still, I don't see what's condescending about pointing out that there's a perfectly good interstate highway a couple miles away that people can use instead.

Look, I drive too, when I need to. But that doesn't mean that I think the lakefront is the appropriate place for a highway. That's what we're talking about here: not whether people should be driving (though I welcome that discussion), but whether the space taken up by Lake Shore Drive could be used for something else.
Carter O'Brien said:
Second, your understanding of the scale and scope of Chicago's economy is a little too pie-in-the-sky for me to take seriously, as is illustrated by this comment on LSD: "It's not being used to bring us food or other goods."

People's creativity and work are goods, Dan.  Getting tens of thousands of people into the City every day to work is a fantastic thing.

I'm not sure how you can judge my understanding of the economy from that one statement, but yes, I agree, getting all those people to work is a fantastic thing. However, my point was that we do still need highways for trucks to move goods around. But here in the 21st century, in our city, we don't need them for commuters.

So it would be even more fantastic if all those people didn't have to move two tons of metal around with them to accomplish getting to work. And it would be really wonderful if we didn't have to have a highway right on the lakefront to make it easier for everyone to do that.
Carter O'Brien said:

This isn't 15th century Tenochtitlan, where surrounding areas will bring us food and other goods as tribute.  Without Chicago producing things we can trade for those things, we disappear.  Been to St. Louis recently?  That's what happens when people stop needing to go to or through your town for commerce.

Been to Detroit recently? Plenty of highways there, not much mass transit. St. Louis is a largely car-oriented area as well. I'm not sure how either of those examples support the idea that roads for cars help the economy. Exactly what are we going to stop producing if people have to either take the train or drive two miles to the west to the interstate highway?
Carter O'Brien said:
If you don't like people and crowds, a city of almost 3 million is the wrong place to be.  If you want uninterrupted stretches for your bike, they are in abundance all over the state and region.  But if you want jobs and healthy neighborhoods, people and their admittedly-aggravating habits come with them.
No, the city is exactly where I want to be, because I don't need a car here. And I love people and crowds! But Lake Shore Drive doesn't provide those things, it just provides a lot of cars making the lakefront noisier, smellier, and uglier. If I wanted to deal with cars, I could move out to the suburbs.

As for "healthy neighborhoods," how exactly do highways promote those?
Carter O'Brien said:

And Lake Point Tower is most definitely a major problem.  It's not just that it's a pinch point, it's that it is a blind corner at Navy Pier, the single largest tourist destination in Illinois - it brings 8,000,000 people a year to Chicago, a serious economic engine for the City.  But regardless, it's about to be fixed with the Flyover, so what's the problem?

I agree, it's a problem. My point about the Lakefront Tower is that, compared to the entire expanse of LSD, it's an isolated and minor problem.
Carter O'Brien said:

My point on the history was simply that cyclists were driving forces for road change back in the day - I'm fine with the concept of carving out more space for bikes on the Lakefront (I've been a member of the CBF-now-ATA for 14 years; learning about they were fixing the North Avenue stretch was the catalyst), but it needs buy-in from a lot of govt agencies as well as constituents who drive, and as the prior posts expounded on, you need to consider consequences of dislocating traffic. 

I have considered the consequences of "dislocating" the traffic. Some of it will move to the other highways. Some of it will just disappear as people use other modes of transportation.
Lots of back and forth here.  The "issue" as I see it is revenue from motor vehicles is a bit higher than revenue for bicyclists.  So, in a utopian world, it would be greenways all over the place with a few major arteries for mass transit and delivery of goods.  However, in the post-industrial world we live in, the infrastructure can not be changed over night, nor radically.  It has to blend in until it becomes the popular choice for everyone, not just a select group.  The simple fact remains, that more people drive on LSD than people on bikes that would like to see it go away.  Combine that with the fact that the city receives money from cars through taxes (parking, gas, etc) and bikes do not financially contribute (in comparison).  This shows why the LSD and LFP are what they currently are.  Any change will be slow and for the masses.
Jack said:
Lots of back and forth here.  The "issue" as I see it is revenue from motor vehicles is a bit higher than revenue for bicyclists.  So, in a utopian world, it would be greenways all over the place with a few major arteries for mass transit and delivery of goods.  However, in the post-industrial world we live in, the infrastructure can not be changed over night, nor radically.  It has to blend in until it becomes the popular choice for everyone, not just a select group.  The simple fact remains, that more people drive on LSD than people on bikes that would like to see it go away.  Combine that with the fact that the city receives money from cars through taxes (parking, gas, etc) and bikes do not financially contribute (in comparison).  This shows why the LSD and LFP are what they currently are.  Any change will be slow and for the masses.

I dunno, Miegs Field seemed to get changed pretty radically overnight. Not everyone agreed, of course, but it did happen. And not everyone likes all of the new bike infrastructure our current mayor is putting in either, such as the protected bike lane on Kinzie. Yet it's happening. What we build is largely a political decision, sure, but there are a lot of people who want to see more alternatives to car infrastructure, especially in the city.

I would argue that infrastructure drives people's transportation choices more than the other way around. Of course there are more cars on LSD than bikes on the lakefront path - LSD is a lot bigger. But when they installed the new bike lane on Kinzie, guess what? Now just about as many bikes use that street as cars do. If you got rid of Lake Shore Drive and put in a dedicated bicycle path, you'd see those numbers change too.

As for the relative revenue brought in by cyclists and motorists, that's only a small part of a much larger picture of net economic impact, which includes the costs with which both groups burden society. While the city, and other levels of government, do receive various monies from drivers, they spend a heck of a lot more to build and maintain roads, hire more police, abate pollution, and to clean up crashes. Those crashes alone have a huge negative economic impact, to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars a year in the U.S., according to the CDC:
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00020814.htm

That's $100 Billion, with a "B", every year, or a trillion dollars over the course of a decade, in the U.S. alone.  How many parking tickets would it take to pay for that?


And that's just money.  Of course, the costs of crashes go beyond dollars, as the first line of that article notes: "Injuries resulting from motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for persons of every age from 6 through 33 years." I would like to think that we could do something about that without having to live in a "utopian world."

At any rate, the main issue here, as I see it, is that we can still have roads for cars, but we don't need to spoil our lakefront with a superhighway.

Finally, saying that things aren't going to change, so we shouldn't even try, is a perfect way to ensure that you're right. Sure, change may be slow in most cases. That's fine. I guess I can wait a while longer for LSD to be depaved. We can do other things in the meantime. But it's still my vision, and I think it's attainable, as long as everyone stops saying that it's not.

The problem with your approach is you are knocking the ACTUAL improvements to the LFP that many, many people have spent many, many years working on.  And since I've been riding on the LFP since I was about 12 I'm going to say your vision better find a way to get in line with that of the majority of Chicago, or people, including myself, will actively work to stop it.  Your Meigs Field comment really says it all, you're no really interested in respecting anybody else's needs, only your own.  Seriously - you think it's a GOOD thing to have more traffic running amok through residential streets to get to the highways?  No thanks.  Spoken as a biker who uses those streets as well as a motorist.

 

That's no way to rally support, which you most certainly need in spades to come even remotely close to a complete overhaul of the LFP so that it's separated from ped traffic, much less taking one lane from LSD, much-much less taking multiple lanes.

 

But you still frankly don't get it as far as the larger importance of LSD.  It's not just a people-mover for locals where one form of transport can be subbed for another - it's the lifeblood of numerous universities, hospitals, the Museum Campus (where I work), Soldier Field, Navy Pier, McCormick Place, etc.   It's a vital part of our economy for both locals and visitors/tourists, warts and all.  That was the St. Louis analogy (Detroit is a total non sequitor) , you take away that river, you just dry up.

 

So, keep waiting. 

 

 

Dan Korn said:

Finally, saying that things aren't going to change, so we shouldn't even try, is a perfect way to ensure that you're right. Sure, change may be slow in most cases. That's fine. I guess I can wait a while longer for LSD to be depaved. We can do other things in the meantime. But it's still my vision, and I think it's attainable, as long as everyone stops saying that it's not.

It depends on which portion of the path you're on.  There are stretches where cyclists and peds can be separated and put on different paths but there are also stretches (e.g. just north of the cultural center) where it really can't be expanded much if any.

 



Daniel G said:

I like freeways. They take a bunch of pissed-off commuters and lock them all together between high concrete barriers where they can only hurt each other. Does the space really not exist to separate bikes and peds without attempting a Lake Shore Drive diet? I don't think one would be easy. It's fair to say that it definitely sucks the least of all Chicago's highways.
Right - so I guess what I've been saying is the achievable progress is to isolate the bottlenecks, the trouble spots, and fix those.  I would absolutely support finding a way to expand the LFP by a bit of encroachment into LSD space, but claiming that removing LSD altogether is on topic when discussing the LFP is well beyond a stretch.  Two different issues.

S said:

It depends on which portion of the path you're on.  There are stretches where cyclists and peds can be separated and put on different paths but there are also stretches (e.g. just north of the cultural center) where it really can't be expanded much if any.

 



Daniel G said:

I like freeways. They take a bunch of pissed-off commuters and lock them all together between high concrete barriers where they can only hurt each other. Does the space really not exist to separate bikes and peds without attempting a Lake Shore Drive diet? I don't think one would be easy. It's fair to say that it definitely sucks the least of all Chicago's highways.
Daniel G said:
I like freeways. They take a bunch of pissed-off commuters and lock them all together between high concrete barriers where they can only hurt each other. Does the space really not exist to separate bikes and peds without attempting a Lake Shore Drive diet? I don't think one would be easy. It's fair to say that it definitely sucks the least of all Chicago's highways.
The problem we've been discussing in this thread is that Lake Shore Drive takes a bunch of cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, rollerbladers, dog walkers, crusty jugglers, and everyone else not in a car, and locks them all together in a narrow strip between the lake and a highway.

As for how much LSD sucks compared to other highways, well, that's a matter of opinion.  But I think it's also fair to say that we should put things that suck, like highways, garbage dumps, and coal power plants, somewhere else, just about anywhere else, than along our (mostly) otherwise beautiful lakefront.


Carter O'Brien said:

The problem with your approach is you are knocking the ACTUAL improvements to the LFP that many, many people have spent many, many years working on.

What improvements am I knocking? Yes, the LFP has gotten a lot better in some ways over the years. I don't discount any work anyone has done at all. But the LSD elephant is still sitting in the room.
Carter O'Brien said:
And since I've been riding on the LFP since I was about 12 I'm going to say your vision better find a way to get in line with that of the majority of Chicago, or people, including myself, will actively work to stop it. Your Meigs Field comment really says it all, you're no really interested in respecting anybody else's needs, only your own.
You can accuse me of whatever you want, but this has absolutely nothing to do with my own needs. I hardly ever use the Lakefront Path. I hate riding there. It's probably the most dangerous place to ride a bicycle in the city IMO, especially on the North Side. Although, I would like to see improvements like the kind suggested by the OP so that it would be better for riding, for me and everyone else too.
Carter O'Brien said:
Seriously - you think it's a GOOD thing to have more traffic running amok through residential streets to get to the highways? No thanks. Spoken as a biker who uses those streets as well as a motorist.

We clearly differ what on the effect of removing the highway would be. It might increase traffic on other streets temporarily, but I think a lot of the traffic will simply disappear, as I explained earlier. I do happen to think that increased congestion of car traffic is a short-term problem with long-term benefits, because eventually people will tire of sitting in traffic jams and decide to do something else. (And in the short term, if they're sitting in traffic jams, they're hardly running amok.) Or, we can continue to cater to the needs of motorists and try to make sure they have all the possible highway space they can use, and we will undoubtedly get more cars as a reward. See Detroit, Houston, LA, etc.
Carter O'Brien said:

That's no way to rally support, which you most certainly need in spades to come even remotely close to a complete overhaul of the LFP so that it's separated from ped traffic, much less taking one lane from LSD, much-much less taking multiple lanes.

Feel free to come up with your own strategy for creating change. Like I said, I don't use the same rhetoric in other places as I do here on the bikey forum. But while this is ultimately a political thing, I'm not so sure that we need to rally support from everyone. The changes that Janette Sadik-Khan has been making in NYC, such as removing automobile lanes from extremely busy downtown streets, have been very controversial, and there has been a huge amount of backlash from people who think that the city is catering too much to cyclists. Yet the changes are being made, and while it's a bit early to quantify, the streets are safer for everyone as a result. So you might think it's selfish for me to want our mayor or other officials to do similarly controversial things here in Chicago, but if we wait until everyone is on board with putting in more bike lanes instead of spending money to build and maintain roads, well, that's what we've been doing for a long time, and that's why we have a highway on the lakefront and so many cars in the city now. The cities which are nearly universally recognized now as being world-class places for cyclists and pedestrians, like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Portland, and, increasingly, New York City, have had leaders who took on the narrow interests of motorists and the highway/oil/automobile lobbies, and who had to fight to get to where they are now. So, call me whatever you want, but I don't really care what everyone else thinks when it comes to making decisions about infrastructure that will improve our transportation choices and save lives. I'll talk to the folks in charge.

Now, getting back to Meigs Field specifically, I don't agree with Mayor Daley's unilateral and illegal decision to bulldoze it in the dead of night. Even though not everyone has to agree with what our elected officials are doing, there are still legal procedures that need to be followed. I only brought up Meigs Field to counter Jack's argument that change always has to happen slowly. But it was effective, just like the decision to reverse the flow of the Chicago River way back when.
Carter O'Brien said:

But you still frankly don't get it as far as the larger importance of LSD. It's not just a people-mover for locals where one form of transport can be subbed for another - it's the lifeblood of numerous universities, hospitals, the Museum Campus (where I work), Soldier Field, Navy Pier, McCormick Place, etc. It's a vital part of our economy for both locals and visitors/tourists, warts and all. That was the St. Louis analogy (Detroit is a total non sequitor) , you take away that river, you just dry up.

You could build a highway just about anywhere and people would start using it. Does that mean that it was necessary? That we can never change anything because people are doing something a certain way now? Prove to me that any of the institutions you listed won't be able to function if people have to use a different road, or take a train.

You really think that people won't go to Soldier Field if LSD isn't there? People still went to U.S. Cellular Field when the interstate highway that runs alongside it was closed for a year. And you really think tourists come to Chicago to drive on a highway? Well, maybe some do, but a lot of people come to enjoy the lakefront without racing past it in a car, and the highway makes that harder.

And you're downplaying the negatives of LSD quite a bit. Do you call this incident a "wart?"
http://gridchicago.com/2011/after-lollapalooza-crash-cdot-says-quee...

By the way, the Museum Campus exists in its current state only because part of Lake Shore Drive was relocated. Moving the highway away from the lakefront was a great idea then, and it's still a great idea now.

As for St. Louis, nobody took away the river, if a "river" is your analogy for a highway. They paved over plenty of land for highways. It's a great place to drive around. Yet somehow, all those roads didn't help create a "lifeline" for locals, tourists, or visitors. Why do you think that is?

Also, I brought up Detroit only after you brought up 15th century Tenochtitlan. And you still didn't answer my question about exactly what things you assert we're going to stop producing without Lake Shore Drive, or most of my other questions, for that matter.
Carter O'Brien said:

So, keep waiting.

I will, and I'll keep working too.

"I hardly ever use the Lakefront Path. I hate riding there. It's probably the most dangerous place to ride a bicycle in the city IMO, especially on the North Side"

 

You barely use the LFP (and obviously not LSD) at all yet you find it proper to claim you know best about what large-scale changes to it would do to the surrounding area?

 

You just made your opinion on the subject 100% irrelevant.

 

I think I'll go start proposing massive changes in areas of the City I'm not familiar with and wonder why people give me grief.  Last word is yours.


Dan Korn said:

Carter O'Brien said:

The problem with your approach is you are knocking the ACTUAL improvements to the LFP that many, many people have spent many, many years working on.

What improvements am I knocking? Yes, the LFP has gotten a lot better in some ways over the years. I don't discount any work anyone has done at all. But the LSD elephant is still sitting in the room.
Carter O'Brien said:
And since I've been riding on the LFP since I was about 12 I'm going to say your vision better find a way to get in line with that of the majority of Chicago, or people, including myself, will actively work to stop it. Your Meigs Field comment really says it all, you're no really interested in respecting anybody else's needs, only your own.
You can accuse me of whatever you want, but this has absolutely nothing to do with my own needs. I hardly ever use the Lakefront Path. I hate riding there. It's probably the most dangerous place to ride a bicycle in the city IMO, especially on the North Side. Although, I would like to see improvements like the kind suggested by the OP so that it would be better for riding, for me and everyone else too.
Carter O'Brien said:
Seriously - you think it's a GOOD thing to have more traffic running amok through residential streets to get to the highways? No thanks. Spoken as a biker who uses those streets as well as a motorist.

 

We clearly differ what on the effect of removing the highway would be. It might increase traffic on other streets temporarily, but I think a lot of the traffic will simply disappear, as I explained earlier. I do happen to think that increased congestion of car traffic is a short-term problem with long-term benefits, because eventually people will tire of sitting in traffic jams and decide to do something else. (And in the short term, if they're sitting in traffic jams, they're hardly running amok.) Or, we can continue to cater to the needs of motorists and try to make sure they have all the possible highway space they can use, and we will undoubtedly get more cars as a reward. See Detroit, Houston, LA, etc.
Carter O'Brien said:

That's no way to rally support, which you most certainly need in spades to come even remotely close to a complete overhaul of the LFP so that it's separated from ped traffic, much less taking one lane from LSD, much-much less taking multiple lanes.

Feel free to come up with your own strategy for creating change. Like I said, I don't use the same rhetoric in other places as I do here on the bikey forum. But while this is ultimately a political thing, I'm not so sure that we need to rally support from everyone. The changes that Janette Sadik-Khan has been making in NYC, such as removing automobile lanes from extremely busy downtown streets, have been very controversial, and there has been a huge amount of backlash from people who think that the city is catering too much to cyclists. Yet the changes are being made, and while it's a bit early to quantify, the streets are safer for everyone as a result. So you might think it's selfish for me to want our mayor or other officials to do similarly controversial things here in Chicago, but if we wait until everyone is on board with putting in more bike lanes instead of spending money to build and maintain roads, well, that's what we've been doing for a long time, and that's why we have a highway on the lakefront and so many cars in the city now. The cities which are nearly universally recognized now as being world-class places for cyclists and pedestrians, like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Portland, and, increasingly, New York City, have had leaders who took on the narrow interests of motorists and the highway/oil/automobile lobbies, and who had to fight to get to where they are now. So, call me whatever you want, but I don't really care what everyone else thinks when it comes to making decisions about infrastructure that will improve our transportation choices and save lives. I'll talk to the folks in charge.

Now, getting back to Meigs Field specifically, I don't agree with Mayor Daley's unilateral and illegal decision to bulldoze it in the dead of night. Even though not everyone has to agree with what our elected officials are doing, there are still legal procedures that need to be followed. I only brought up Meigs Field to counter Jack's argument that change always has to happen slowly. But it was effective, just like the decision to reverse the flow of the Chicago River way back when.
Carter O'Brien said:

But you still frankly don't get it as far as the larger importance of LSD. It's not just a people-mover for locals where one form of transport can be subbed for another - it's the lifeblood of numerous universities, hospitals, the Museum Campus (where I work), Soldier Field, Navy Pier, McCormick Place, etc. It's a vital part of our economy for both locals and visitors/tourists, warts and all. That was the St. Louis analogy (Detroit is a total non sequitor) , you take away that river, you just dry up.

You could build a highway just about anywhere and people would start using it. Does that mean that it was necessary? That we can never change anything because people are doing something a certain way now? Prove to me that any of the institutions you listed won't be able to function if people have to use a different road, or take a train.

You really think that people won't go to Soldier Field if LSD isn't there? People still went to U.S. Cellular Field when the interstate highway that runs alongside it was closed for a year. And you really think tourists come to Chicago to drive on a highway? Well, maybe some do, but a lot of people come to enjoy the lakefront without racing past it in a car, and the highway makes that harder.

And you're downplaying the negatives of LSD quite a bit. Do you call this incident a "wart?"
http://gridchicago.com/2011/after-lollapalooza-crash-cdot-says-quee...

By the way, the Museum Campus exists in its current state only because part of Lake Shore Drive was relocated. Moving the highway away from the lakefront was a great idea then, and it's still a great idea now.

As for St. Louis, nobody took away the river, if a "river" is your analogy for a highway. They paved over plenty of land for highways. It's a great place to drive around. Yet somehow, all those roads didn't help create a "lifeline" for locals, tourists, or visitors. Why do you think that is?

Also, I brought up Detroit only after you brought up 15th century Tenochtitlan. And you still didn't answer my question about exactly what things you assert we're going to stop producing without Lake Shore Drive, or most of my other questions, for that matter.
Carter O'Brien said:

So, keep waiting.

I will, and I'll keep working too.
Thanks for those links. Bookmarked!

Dan Korn said:

The converse of this is traffic evaporation:

http://www.onestreet.org/resources-for-increasing-bicycling/115-tra...

http://www.preservenet.com/freeways/FreewaysInducedReduced.html

 

In short, if you remove roads, the traffic simply goes away.

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