The Chainlink

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.

Some ideas.

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?

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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.

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?

High hanging fruit thoughts fill my mind hoping train lines like CTA or Metra might build up an idea like this to generate power and revenue paid by cyclists commuting long distances on a system built alongside or on top of their routes.

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!

Cars are brought on by oil interests which are driven by capitalist profit.

First, funding public transit via subsidy is not the solution. See transit-oriented design (TOD). Basically, it is vital to see that public transit is a luxury item, not some throwaway gift. Developers understand this: Each rail stop is selling point. In TOD, developers pay up from to get the prime land around new metro stations, which ends up paying for and sustaining the lines. Really, cars need to go. Period. End of story. That's the reason for imaging 4/5 streets as pedestrian-, bike-only.

Sustainable transportation:

  • Want to go grocery shopping? Get a train!
  • Want to see a movie with the kids? Get a train!
  • Taking grandma to the beach? Get a train!

"Want to go grocery shopping? Get a train!
Want to see a movie with the kids? Get a train!
Taking grandma to the beach? Get a train!"

Seriously. But cars...! Need them to...! Boo-hoo - cars are a waste of time, money, resources! See, e.g. Cars Kill: 50,000 killed annually in the US, millions sustain lifelong injuries. Cars == Cigarettes. No use in public spaces, please! Enjoy them in the comfort of your own house (let them run over your pets, etc.).



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