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  1. #1
    Big Member cookiepuss's Avatar
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    Car Free in Chicago!

    If you live in a city like Chicago it is pretty easy to be car free. Being that it is for the most part bike friendly. As well as the CTA (Chicago Transportation Authority) allowing bikes on the "L" trains (except during rush hour) and even on the bus. They have a two capacity bike carrier on the front of all buses.

    I never made the choice to be "car free" for higher social reasons. I did it mainly since:
    • parking is a pain and expensive usually

    • gas is expensive

    • I never much leave the city that often

    • car insurance is expensive


    Another newer bonus is that even the Metra (the train system for the suburbs) allows bikes on them. So you can even visit your suburban friends and ride from the station. None of the trains or buses charge extra for this.

    More:

    CTA BIKE BROCHURE (PDF)
    METRA BIKES ON TRAINS

  2. #2
    Dare to be weird!
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    Hi cookiepuss

    I like Chicago. It's one of my favorite cities. Though if I lived there I'd have to really toughen up for the winters.

    It would be nice if rail transit authorities didn't routinely exclude bikes during rush hours. They should add a few extra cars and gates, or whatever it takes. I can't imagine it would be all that costly.

    Also it would be nice to see something like "Folding bikes may be brought aboard any time."

    Having said that, it looks like Chicago has a reasonably enlightened transit/bike policy. Don't you have a pro-bike mayor, flat terrain, and some rail to trail conversions, too? Sounds great to me!!

  3. #3
    Big Member cookiepuss's Avatar
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    Yeah Platy,

    Daley is a pro-bike mayor. There are even pics of him holding up critical mass flyers on the CM Chicago site.

    See: http://www.chicagocriticalmass.org/g...etowork01.html

    The CTA is always hard up for money (or so they say). But compared to other cities Chicago is a good bike town in terms of transit. When I lived in Atlanta you were lucky to have a bike rack at the train station.

    As far as the winters that is the advantage of being able to take bikes on the bus. Once you cease to feel your feet and fingers you get on the bus.

  4. #4
    Giant-Riding Ogre Don Gwinn's Avatar
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    Chicago has some neat stuff, but you'd want to toughen up for the gangsters in my experience, too. I was in the area of the courthouse and Cook County jail a few months back, and whoa! I'm just a small-town boy, so maybe I'm just a hick, but it looked like "Escape From New York."


    Lots of people on bicycles in that neighborhood, but most were not what you'd call cyclists--they were jumping out in front of cars in traffic kamikaze style. One guy jumped out in front of me. I stopped (from 25 mph, so fairly suddenly.) He stopped. In the center of my lane. Sideways. Feet on the ground, out of the saddle, and trying to stare me down through a windshield. I was probably looking a little puzzled, but my doors were locked and there were no pedestrians approaching my car so I didn't get much of a threatening vibe. I don't know what he thought he was going to do, exactly, but he must have gotten bored because made a great show of nonchalantly hopping on the bike and weaving slowly along in my lane till there was an opening in the opposite lane so he could cross the street.

    It was still unnerving; people get beaten and sometimes killed in Chicago for traffic accidents.
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  5. #5
    sorry apologetic's Avatar
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    http://www.newcitychicago.com/chicago/4523.html

    here is a fantastic read about living car free in chicago

    forgive me if it was posted before
    "I wear size 14 wide shoe. Just keep that in mind when you say I'm not a dreamboat, or not Mr. Right," - Chess Legend Bobby Fischer.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookiepuss
    I never made the choice to be "car free" for higher social reasons. I did it mainly since:
    • parking is a pain and expensive usually

    • gas is expensive

    • I never much leave the city that often

    • car insurance is expensive


    Another newer bonus is that even the Metra (the train system for the suburbs) allows bikes on them. So you can even visit your suburban friends and ride from the station. None of the trains or buses charge extra for this.

    More:

    CTA BIKE BROCHURE (PDF)
    METRA BIKES ON TRAINS
    What I found so expensive in having a car in the city was the cost of break-ins. It's incredible how people won't even leave a junker alone on the street without trying to steal the radio or some worthless junk in your car. The vandals would have a field day with my car at night.

  7. #7
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    You can take a folding bike on the trains anytime. Non-folding bikes are limited to off peak hours, and weekends, you can take the bike on anytime.

    Koffee

  8. #8
    Beamish enthusiast
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    I'm especially excited about the Metra situation, being a suburbanite living 1/2 mile from the Metra. I hope they can reconcile a way to allow bikes all the time - I'll be commuting into the city when I transfer colleges. Between public transportation and the trail network, there's nowhere I can't get to. I can get on the Northshore path two blocks from my front door and head into the city if I so desired.
    So very poor...

  9. #9
    Member Galavant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citizen560
    I'm especially excited about the Metra situation, being a suburbanite living 1/2 mile from the Metra. I hope they can reconcile a way to allow bikes all the time - I'll be commuting into the city when I transfer colleges. Between public transportation and the trail network, there's nowhere I can't get to. I can get on the Northshore path two blocks from my front door and head into the city if I so desired.
    Taking your bike on the Metra is great; however, make sure that you read and follow all of their guidlines if you want to take advantage. The most improtant thing is not to get discouraged if the conductors give you trouble the first time or two.

    When I started loading my bike onto the train it seemed that they looked for any possible reason NOT to let me on. I've also watched them hassle other cyclists as well. And this isn't limited to just one conductor or one incident either. I think what is happening is that alot of these men and women are very old school and have been working these trains for several years (conductor on my evening train has worked Metra for 22 years or so) and I think it is going to take a little while for them to get used to the whole thing. As long as you are polite and understanding there really shouldn't be too much of a problem.

    Granted, the good encounters have heavily outweighed the bad, but still don't let 'em discourage you. Oh, and one more bit of wisdom....make sure to check the events schedule. There are several weekends over the summer when you cannot board with your bike.

    Bike Safe.
    Brian

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Platy
    It would be nice if rail transit authorities didn't routinely exclude bikes during rush hours. They should add a few extra cars and gates, or whatever it takes. I can't imagine it would be all that costly.
    Actually, it would be quite costly to add cars to the trains. The platforms just long enough for existing length trains (8 on all lines, except 6 for the Brown Line). The CTA is undergoing a $100 Million+ project just to get the Brown Line up to 8 car stations.

    That's what you get when many of the stations are the same as when they were built in the late 1800s.

    I took my bike on the train once at 9:00 PM, way out of rush hour, and it was the most miserable experience. Something had just let out downtown, and the train was simply packed. I had to balance myself and keep the drivetrain out of people's pants. I was in the front car, and my tire hit the door so many times the motorman must have thought I was trying to break in.

  11. #11
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    I haven't seen too many platforms that can't accomodate for at least one more car. Some of the Metra stops definitely have shorter platforms, but I think that there are more El platforms that are long enough to accomodate.

    Another option if they're worried about platform length is to put that last car on the back of the train and just tell people that the very last car does not reach the platform, so the car in front is reserved ONLY for cyclists who plan to use that last car to stow their bikes. Then the last car that hits the platform would be where cyclists would enter the train, and they would head through the train to the last car to stow their bikes, then return to the car ahead to sit. It could work.

    CTA just needs to get creative, that's all. And for all the renovations they're doing, they can afford to slap on a few more feet of platform to accomodate for one more car.

    Koffee

  12. #12
    Beamish enthusiast
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    I haven't seen too many platforms that can't accomodate for at least one more car. Some of the Metra stops definitely have shorter platforms, but I think that there are more El platforms that are long enough to accomodate.

    Another option if they're worried about platform length is to put that last car on the back of the train and just tell people that the very last car does not reach the platform, so the car in front is reserved ONLY for cyclists who plan to use that last car to stow their bikes. Then the last car that hits the platform would be where cyclists would enter the train, and they would head through the train to the last car to stow their bikes, then return to the car ahead to sit. It could work.

    CTA just needs to get creative, that's all. And for all the renovations they're doing, they can afford to slap on a few more feet of platform to accomodate for one more car.

    Koffee

    Voice of Reason vs. Crusty Old Bureaucracy

    Here's to hoping!
    So very poor...

  13. #13
    Moonshiner
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    Sorry to bump this old thread, but I read a relevant and interesting statistic yesterday.

    Within the City of Chicago, 35 percent of households are "car free" -- ie, they don't own a motor vehicle.

    At an average of 2.67 people per household, that's something like a million people.

    I enjoy thinking about the implications of that number.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by burden
    Sorry to bump this old thread, but I read a relevant and interesting statistic yesterday.

    Within the City of Chicago, 35 percent of households are "car free" -- ie, they don't own a motor vehicle.

    At an average of 2.67 people per household, that's something like a million people.

    I enjoy thinking about the implications of that number.
    The implications of that number are very busy bike paths

  15. #15
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    That article on going car free in Chicago is very good!

    The author Jane Holtz Kay is well worth reading, and there's a lot of stuff to read on her web site. She's car-free too.

  16. #16
    Junk Collector
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    Quote Originally Posted by citizen560
    I'm especially excited about the Metra situation, being a suburbanite living 1/2 mile from the Metra. I hope they can reconcile a way to allow bikes all the time - I'll be commuting into the city when I transfer colleges. Between public transportation and the trail network, there's nowhere I can't get to. I can get on the Northshore path two blocks from my front door and head into the city if I so desired.
    Hey, I'm in Libertyville too, and I've just started commuting to Gurnee by bike (11 miles each way). You can get around very well by bike, til the snow flies. Then you've got uncleared bike paths and salt 2 inches deep on the main roads. Even with constant washing, the salt ate away at my Trek winter bike. What a drag.

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