What if there were bike lanes along the train tracks? How would that change the biking scene in Chicago? Frankly biking in this city sucks. Yes there are a few bike lanes, but hardly any are protected lanes- where the bike lane is separated from the direct traffic, tucked in between parked cars and the curb. Within this great and grandiose city there are the very few that do exist, and those teases lasts for but a short spell, like a lack luster summer romance.
Riding next to full blown rush hour traffic, squeezed in between semi trucks, garbage trucks, and food service trucks, and stopping every 20 feet for a stop sign or traffic light, is not fun. It used to be thrilling, but now it is just straight up annoying. Do I want to ride my bike everyday? No because it is not fun anymore. Stopping that precious momentum just to rebuild it again to that coasting status takes a lot of energy. Then stop again as soon as you get going.
Regaining this momentum is a lot different from the experience in the car. Yes start and stop is annoying, but on the bike it is downright challenging. This, my driving friends, is why we cyclists cannot stop at every stop sign. Not only the force required for the sake of movement, it is also the time involved. In the time it takes to complete the stop, then to go, and finally to pass through the intersection, we are looking at a solid minute. If instead, I look at the intersection and make sure all parties are reaching their stop, I will continue on my journey. This agreement saves everyone time. We are all in a rush. So please cars, understand that we bikers have already seen you, and are not being jerks if we glide by seemingly unknowingly.
I am not justifying this agreement as a viable solution, do not get me wrong. It is clearly not working.
One ideal solution to the bike conundrum would be to make use of the avenues that already exist in the city: train tracks. There is one old track line that has been reinvented as a bike and walking path: the 606. This is a great solution and I want to see more types of this sort of innovative city structure to help carry us into a modern and green city, the type of city that Chicago is promoting, the type of city that adapts to the modern man’s hustle. I want cycling to be a viable solution, an easy and stress free form of transportation that is not a life and death scenario, as it is now.