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The City
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^ Thank you for finding that.

I watched the first 14 minutes. One difference that Chicago faces compared to what I saw in the video is that Chicago already does a good job of claiming the sidewalk as a "public" pedestrian space. However, modern Chicago's issue is more of high off-street parking demand. I'm not sure if this was addressed in the video, but it seems to be somewhat of a different problem than that faced in Bogota, where cars were clearly claiming public space and making the pedestrian experience literally dangerous
 

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Bogota's example is inspiring - one point that Mayor Peñalosa brought up was really good: even in Colombia, there's a stigma attached to "riding the bus", so the way that the city marketed the new bus rapid transit system would be crucial. In short, the new system had to be "sexy". So they chose the name TransMilenio, with no mention of "bus". They didn't scrimp on the basic necessities; stations are spacious, covered, and modern. Much of the lines are grade-separated in the middles of major highways to ensure speed and efficiency.

Lastly, and I thought this was great: TransMilenio chose a unified bus design and size, and a uniform red color for the express buses, with a uniform green color for the feeder buses. Such an immediate visual clue simplifies the system greatly, as opposed to most American bus systems where the bus fleet is a mix of different models and styles, and they are all painted the same regardless of what route they run. This gets confusing sometimes at major bus stops, where several different routes converge.

Also, unlike LA's example, where special fancy-looking buses were ordered for the Orange Line at major cost, Bogota merely bought ordinary buses and painted them differently.

Chicago's recent announcement of bus lanes got me excited, but now I'm seriously underwhelmed at how little CTA is actually doing with their $150 million. They're just closing certain lanes to car traffic at rush hours, and only in one direction! Then they're building some fancy shelters and putting changers on the traffic lights. For $0 additional dollars, they could make them into permanent bus lanes, but apparently that's too much of a hardship for motorists....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In short, the new system had to be "sexy". So they chose the name TransMilenio, with no mention of "bus". They didn't scrimp on the basic necessities; stations are spacious, covered, and modern. Much of the lines are grade-separated in the middles of major highways to ensure speed and efficiency.
This almost sounds dumb, but really the best way to get the people to take public transit is to make the experience more pleasant.

For $0 additional dollars, they could make them into permanent bus lanes, but apparently that's too much of a hardship for motorists....
And that's the problem right there. I like how Bogota's major practically risked his political career to better serve the people. No one is going to willingly give up their cars, unless gas prices increase another $5 dollars within the next year.
 

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But that's the big difference between Bogota and Chicago. In Bogota, only 20% of residents own cars. In Chicago, as I understand it, 89% of people own cars. It's a lot easier to piss off 20% of the electorate than it is to piss off 89%. The example in the video of the bikeway with paved bike/pedestrian paths and unpaved automobile streets could never happen here in Chicago; it's politically impossible.

However, I absolutely LOVED the way the city widened sidewalks wherever possible. It seems like Chicago continues to squander valuable sidewalk space with little green "boulevards", huge concrete planters, or parallel parking. Whenever anybody tries to close streets, people always bring up the example of the State Street pedestrian mall.... It didn't fail because of its concept, it failed because of its poorly-planned details and because of the general failure of downtown retail at the time. Other cities around the country and world have perfectly functioning pedestrian malls.
 

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Ardecila has a valid point about car ownership per capita in both cities (although maybe the higher percentage of voters have cars, it wouldn't be unlikely in a city of that size). And no, having unpaved roads for cars would not work here but I don't believe the point was to punish drivers as much as it was to prioritize bikers and pedestrians.

I do think there could be a serious pro-pedestrian movement (lump bikers into that) in Chicago. This city does cater to the car and it has become more dangerous to cross a street or ride a bike. Areas like North and Clybourn are down right anti-pedestrian. Sidewalks are barely wide enough for two people to pass by, there are no crosswalks between Sheffield and Clybourn on North (how many times do you see pedestrians in the center turn lane waiting to cross?), bike lanes are non-existent, traffic barrels through there as if it were a freeway and there is only one CTA line that stops there even though two others pass through. You could almost get wacked in the head by the rear view mirror of a bus while walking down the sidewalk because the pedestrians are force to walk so close to traffic.

Just a few things I'd like to see happen:
-Obviously, a more dedicated effort to mass transit.
-Of course, more Bus ROW's as Bogata has done so well. Denver's 16th street mall has had success as a Bus only route. Why couldn't State Street work the same way
-More streets without streetside parking (Milwaukee Ave comes to mind). Use the added space for wider sidewalks and better bike lanes.
-Pedestrian-only streets like Pearl Street in Boulder.
-More pathways dedicated to bikes like the proposed Bloomingdale Trail. We have miles of unused railroad that can be used for this or more transit ROW
-Stricter traffic enforcement. I know our police force is stretched thin, but there needs to be a way to better enforce traffic laws and not just parking. Tougher fines on speeding, moving violations, cell phone use (on the other side, I'd like to see more enforcement against bikers whom act like maniacs and don't follow the rules).
-Put forth the same effort and commitment to this in the South and West side as we would into the Loop and North sides.

We can start with these and work our way up to some of the standards that cities like Bogata are setting.
 

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The City
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I do think there could be a serious pro-pedestrian movement (lump bikers into that) in Chicago. This city does cater to the car and it has become more dangerous to cross a street or ride a bike. Areas like North and Clybourn are down right anti-pedestrian. Sidewalks are barely wide enough for two people to pass by, there are no crosswalks between Sheffield and Clybourn on North (how many times do you see pedestrians in the center turn lane waiting to cross?), bike lanes are non-existent, traffic barrels through there as if it were a freeway and there is only one CTA line that stops there even though two others pass through. You could almost get wacked in the head by the rear view mirror of a bus while walking down the sidewalk because the pedestrians are force to walk so close to traffic.
^ Ask, and ye shall receive:

City eyeing traffic solutions for Halsted Triangle
BY CAROLE SNOW
May 30, 2008 | 4:29 PM

A new preliminary development plan for the Halsted Triangle neighborhood features pocket parks, wider sidewalks, bigger bike lanes, and bike-sharing kiosks.

The plan, unveiled by city officials Wednesday night, is aimed at addressing rapid growth in the area, which is bounded by North Avenue, Division Street, Halsted Street and the North Branch Canal.


The plan provides a road map for growth over the next decade, and addresses the area's aging infrastructure. It also contemplates ways to decrease vacant lots and increase pedestrian and bicycle usability.

"There's kind of an auto focus right now and we want to shift that. We need to encourage transit by non-auto modes," said David Whyte of Kimley-Horn and Associates, a transportation and land-use firm contracted by the city.

Whyte said the plan also includes a shopping shuttle and a new Brown Line stop in the area.

Nearly 80 people gathered at the Steppenwolf Theatre to listen to plan details and voice their opinions.

Several of them said biking in the triangle is hazardous because of the heavy traffic and already narrow streets. Adding bike lanes to roadways would also cause traffic flow issues.

"It may be the most politically correct thing to say, but they don't work," said Terry Leja, a Chicago transplant from San Francisco. Leja noted that several bike-lane projects in San Francisco had failed.

Other residents said a chain retailer in the area often fails to clear snow from its sidewalks in the winter, making walking difficult.

Resident Diane Levin said traffic has grown on Kingsbury as motorists seek to avoid congestion on Halsted Street.

Whyte said there were no plans to to widen streets, but that the plan could lessen traffic problems by encouraging motorists to bike, take the El, walk, or use shuttles.


The city is hoping to finalize the plan this summer.


Alderman Vi Daley, who gave an opening address at the meeting, said the plan is open to change.

"I know a lot of people thought this plan was set in stone. It is not." Daley said.
 

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Well looky there. Let's try this again......

I WANT A WORLD CLASS TRANSIT SYSTEM!!!!!!!!
 

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I think the changes being made now are a positive step forward. This system has been on the brink of disaster for many years now, because of the complete lack of commitment on the part of springfield and the worthless wasting of money that has occurred in cook county. Despite the complete incompetence of politicians to recognize the importance of public transit and act accordingly, we have a bright future laying before us at the moment. Mr. Obama could very well be our next president, and we all know damn well he'll try to influence improvements in the transit system and the dilapidated neighborhoods on the south and west sides. The olympic "buzz" is also a factor that can influence washington to provide some funding for transit in chicago. With all the wasted money washington has spent on other less deserving cities, I think a movement is due for this country to give chicago what it deserves.
 

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Not just Chicago, but every urban area.
 
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