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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-21-07, 11:21 AM   #1
gwd
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Chicago Visit

I'll be going on a business trip to Chicago and have never been there.
Any car free Chicagoans here? Is it really feasible to fly into O'Hare and
take public transport downtown? My hotel is 7 blocks from the work site,
can I get by without a rental car in the downtown? My mental image of midwestern cities is strip mall after strip mall separated by dead end cookie
cutter neighborhoods. This image comes from flying over them. Is downtown
Chicago walkable? The map shows a grid layout bounded by a lake and cut
by a river. What is the ground truth?
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Old 03-21-07, 12:11 PM   #2
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Seriously? Chicago is one of the best cities in the US to be carfree. There is extensive public transportation but you should bring your bike!
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Old 03-21-07, 12:28 PM   #3
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"The nation's second largest public transportation system provides rail, bus, and other transportation information for travel around Chicago." - http://www.transitchicago.com/

I think you'll be fine. Have you never seen a picture of downtown Chicago and its density?
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Old 03-21-07, 12:34 PM   #4
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It's like 2 bucks to jump on the Blue Line CTA for a ride downtown from O'Hare. That's such a bargain.

And if it's rush hour, you can laugh at all the suckers sitting in cabs on the Kennedy Expressway as the train rolls past them.

Once you get into the Loop, walk. 7 blocks is less than a mile. IIRC, the basic equation is 8 blocks is roughly a mile. Don't waste your money on cabs.
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Old 03-21-07, 01:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orikal
"The nation's second largest public transportation system provides rail, bus, and other transportation information for travel around Chicago." - http://www.transitchicago.com/

I think you'll be fine. Have you never seen a picture of downtown Chicago and its density?
Thanks for the link it looks like I have to change trains with a total walking distance of less than 1/2 mile to get from Airport to Hotel. The site says the trip should take about an hour. No. I don't recall seeing a photo of downtown Chicago but the map at the CTA site seems to show many interesting things near the hotel like a visitor center. They might know about walking tours.
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Old 03-21-07, 01:28 PM   #6
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If you take the Blue Line from O'Hare to Loop, there's really no reason to change trains. Unless, of course, you want to take that scenic trip on the elevated line around the Loop.

Depends on your hotel location, I'd guess.
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Old 03-21-07, 01:33 PM   #7
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been living in car free for years, and its EXTREMELY easy, blue line goes right inside ohare and goes all the way downtown to the loop. Bike is best, but trains and busses all work well here.
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Old 03-21-07, 02:42 PM   #8
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don't forget... Chicago style pizza, gyros & Greek food in general, Chicago style hotdogs and Polish sausage, Italian beef... sample the local cuisine
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Old 03-21-07, 02:44 PM   #9
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I had a fantastic trip to Chicago a few years ago, highlighted by comparing my subway/el/whatever ride from O'Hare to the downtown hotel w/ my colleagues' rent-a-car experiences...

Definitely great food, but I only found it w/ colleagues, the one night I got out w/ a friend who was 'local' he took me to the cheesecake factory, d'oh!!!
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Old 03-21-07, 03:17 PM   #10
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I've driven to Chicago twice from Toronto, and flown in a couple more.

On both road trips, we found a secure place to park our car - and then forgot about it for a week or so.

When I've flown in, it never even crossed my mind to rent a car - what would I do with it, where would we park, and so on are questions that I would have a hard time answering .
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Old 03-21-07, 03:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwd
Thanks for the link it looks like I have to change trains with a total walking distance of less than 1/2 mile to get from Airport to Hotel. The site says the trip should take about an hour. No. I don't recall seeing a photo of downtown Chicago but the map at the CTA site seems to show many interesting things near the hotel like a visitor center. They might know about walking tours.
I'm going to say your original post of sort of laughable, in a friendly way. I guess people who live here understand why it seems like you are almost trolling. I mean, have you ever at least seen Chicago in pictures or in movies? I'm not trying to be mean, I just think it's funny that your vision of downtown Chicago is strip malls and wide open land. Boy, are you in for a surprise.

From the paragraph above, it sounds like you might be near the Chicago Cultural Center? I suggest going there right away. The building itself is a work of art, and on the north end of the building is a room full of free maps and brochures of things to do.

I've photographed both Chicago and Washington, DC for some books; and Chicago is a lot easier to get around car-free than DC.
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Old 03-22-07, 02:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moochers_Dad
I'm going to say your original post of sort of laughable, in a friendly way. I guess people who live here understand why it seems like you are almost trolling. I mean, have you ever at least seen Chicago in pictures or in movies? I'm not trying to be mean, I just think it's funny that your vision of downtown Chicago is strip malls and wide open land. Boy, are you in for a surprise.

From the paragraph above, it sounds like you might be near the Chicago Cultural Center? I suggest going there right away. The building itself is a work of art, and on the north end of the building is a room full of free maps and brochures of things to do.

I've photographed both Chicago and Washington, DC for some books; and Chicago is a lot easier to get around car-free than DC.
I just google earthed Chicago and got plenty of pictures. I didn't think Chicago had so many tall buildings. But still, I can't tell if the bridges across the Chicago river are walkable. Some seem to have side lanes and others seem not too. It would be good for me if the Michigan avenue bridge allowed pedestrians otherwise my walk to the work site will be longer.
I'll be working near the Cultural Center so I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks for the encouragement.
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Old 03-22-07, 02:06 PM   #13
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You can walk over most any of the bridges. The Michigan Avenue bridge has very wide sidewalks.

Chicago is a very easy city to negotiate and very pedestrian. You will have no problems in that area.

And, yeah, there are lots of really tall buildings in Chicago!
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Old 03-22-07, 02:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwd
I just google earthed Chicago and got plenty of pictures. I didn't think Chicago had so many tall buildings. But still, I can't tell if the bridges across the Chicago river are walkable. Some seem to have side lanes and others seem not too. It would be good for me if the Michigan avenue bridge allowed pedestrians otherwise my walk to the work site will be longer.
I'll be working near the Cultural Center so I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks for the encouragement.
There is ped access EVERYWHERE downtown...and yes...even over the bridges that go over the river.

Its very easy to get around the downtown area by foot.

Since you'll be working near the Cultural Center...and if you have the means...

rent a bike here (if you're not bringing your own): http://www.bikechicago.com/

and ride the Lake Shore Drive Trail (20 miles in all I think): http://www.cityofchicago.org/Transpo...maps/13-P.html
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Old 03-22-07, 02:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moochers_Dad
I've photographed both Chicago and Washington, DC for some books; and Chicago is a lot easier to get around car-free than DC.
Yeah...but the DC Metro is absolutely immaculate! I mean, how the hell do they keep those subways so damn clean.
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Old 03-22-07, 02:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by mwrobe1
Yeah...but the DC Metro is absolutely immaculate! I mean, how the hell do they keep those subways so damn clean.
It seems like all of DC is maintained for the benefit of people in very very very nice clothes. No food on the metro (can't spill coffee on someone's wool suit), a/c way too low (can't take off the suitjacket). But it does stay clean. Maybe not enough spilled food for growth substrate, temp to low for survival if things do take hold, who knows...

(my wife commuted to Bethesda in summer attire more suitable for life in the malarial swamp that is under all the pavement, and had a grudge against the regulations that seem to only work for people wearing lots of nice clothes)
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Old 03-22-07, 06:40 PM   #17
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Slightly OT: What's your favorite Chicago Pizza? Mine is Lou Malnati's. Uno and Due are too rich for my palate. Gino's East is really good too. So is Gulliver's, but that's way up on Howard.

Chicago ribs and steaks are awesome too.
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Old 03-23-07, 07:19 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwd
I just google earthed Chicago and got plenty of pictures. I didn't think Chicago had so many tall buildings. But still, I can't tell if the bridges across the Chicago river are walkable. Some seem to have side lanes and others seem not too. It would be good for me if the Michigan avenue bridge allowed pedestrians otherwise my walk to the work site will be longer.
I'll be working near the Cultural Center so I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks for the encouragement.
Chicago is a great city to get around by bike, unless you like hills. Lots of neat buildings.
North Lake Shore Drive MUP, Hancock Bldg in background :


Sears Tower from the South Lake Shore Drive MUP


Looking North from the same location where the previous picture of the Sears Bldg was taken, Jackson and LSD:



Skyline from Shedd Aquarium:


Columbus Ave one block over from Michigan; picture taken across the street from the Art Institute, Standard Oil Bldg in background:


Skyline from Millennium Park:


Chicago Tribune Bldg:

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 03-23-07 at 07:35 AM.
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Old 03-23-07, 09:26 PM   #19
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OP,

You should definitely not rent a car. Take the CTA blue line from O'hare to downtown for $2.00. If your hotel is on North Michigan, you can transfer for free to the red line at Washinton and go north to Grand or Chicago and walk to your hotel. If your hotel is close to Chicago Ave., you can also exit the blue line at Chicago and transfer to a Chicago Ave. bus for $.30 to Michigan Ave. if you'd rather not transfer trains.

The CTA (www.transitchicago.com) is safe and practical (I regularly take the subway at 3am after a night on the town no problem). Although it is not pretty, most trains and many buses run 24/7 and the train system is slowly getting remodeled, one or two stations per year. You can walk to work easily from your hotel or take the train, bus or cab or ride a bike. All bridges over the river have pedestrian walkways and are crowded with pedestrians. Parking a car will cost you at least $30 per day just to leave it in the lot all day, more if you drive it around.

I live on the far north side, own four bikes and a car, and can honestly say that I never drive downtown. My car is for weekend trips to the country, the far suburbs and/or when I need to transport my dog.

FYI, Chicago (I'm talking about the city, not the burbs) is very bicycle friendly, with many bike lanes, slow traffic used to seeing bicyclists on the road, bike racks throughout the city and on all buses, bicycles allowed on trains in non rush hour and many real cyclists who would never dream of putting their bikes on a bus or train.

Enjoy our city. I think you will be pleasantly suprised. Oh, and for pizza, I vote for Lou Malnati's thick crust pizza (on Wells street). When thinking of Chicago, imagine New York City with half the population, twice the land area, lots of trees, the garbage dumpsters are all neatly hidden in alleys and most of the city goes to bed just a wee bit earlier than in NYC (bars close at 2am or 4am Sunday through Friday [3am or 5am on Saturday] depending on the license).

Be sure to visit bicycle museum at North Pier and our state of the art bicycle commuter facility in Millenium Park, complete with secure bicycle storage, lockers, repair services, and showers. Oh, and Mayor Daley rides a bicycle, hugs trees and hasn't been convicted of anything yet.

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Old 03-23-07, 11:43 PM   #20
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycling_in_Chicago

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