Tag: traffic

The bicycle’s plea

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.

The advancement of the traffic jam

Dear Chicago,

Why are we stuck in a Jeffersonian era of traffic control? This constant stopping is slowing down progress, making all commutes much more cumbersome than necessary, creating a road rage anger that is deep-rooted and raw, superbly aggressive and panic-stricken.

The first traffic light was invented in 1868, and after 1920, the design has largely not changed.  Since Woodrow Wilson was president, the traffic light has not been upgraded, the flow of traffic has not been improved upon.  The only update we have gotten in 150 years is that there is a countdown for signal change.  This is not revolutionary, but it is included on the Wikipedia page because there is nothing else to say about this highly important societal tool that impacts just about everyone.

It is beyond time for a change, a drastic change, one that incorporates all this technology to help ease the burden of stopping and starting at regularly controlled intervals. The flow of traffic is not natural like the rushing river, it is sporadic like the ever changing Midwestern weather.  We need a system where the signals monitor the accumulated cars and then makes an informed decision on when to change.  Yes, an informed decision that accounts for multiple aspects, a technological decision based on data and real life events, not arbitrary parameters such as every two minutes regardless of the situation.  A scenario where they don’t blink on set schedule just for the sake of changing.  This is not a difficult or expensive fix, I bet the city could do it on its smart phone.

Same for the stop sign.  Lets make then digital so that you only have to stop if there is another car registered. The sign always says slow, but can change to stop when it is needed.

There needs to be bus priority lanes and traffic signals so that riding the bus is not so slow. Taking the bus is hardly a viable option because of how terribly slow the travel is.  The forever bus, that is what it is commonly referred to. The bus needs to travel faster than the flow of traffic, not slower.