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Transportation

The Chicago Suburb That's Trying To Kill the Car (politico.com) 259

HughPickens.com writes: T. R. Goldman writes at Politico that downtown Evanston, Illinois—a sturdy, tree-lined Victorian city wedged neatly between Lake Michigan and Chicago's northern border, is missing one thing — cars. Or, more accurately, it's missing a lot of cars. Thanks to concerted planning, new developments are rising within a 10-minute walk of two rail lines and half-a-dozen bus routes and the local automobile ownership rate is nearly half that of the surrounding area. According to Goldman, the whole point of the suburbs, reinforced by decades of local zoning laws and developers' plans for a car-centric lifestyle, was that you weren't supposed to live on top of your neighbor, that there was supposed to be plenty of parking everywhere you went and that you weren't supposed to walk anywhere.

"But Evanston had a different idea: What if a suburban downtown became a place where pedestrians ruled and cars were actively discouraged?" writes Goldman. "Beginning in 1986, a new plan for Evanston embraced the idea of a '24/7' downtown, pouring resources into increasing the density of its downtown—a density that also meant decreasing residents' reliance on automobiles. As a compact city, Evanston couldn't compete with the vast sprawling parking spots of the Old Orchard Mall. It had to build a different sort of appeal."

Evanston has gained recognition and reputation for efforts related to sustainability, including those by government, citizens, and institutions and one thing that Evanston does to reduce the number of cars is let individual car owners rent their idle cars to other drivers through an online service. The service is being provided by a San Francisco-based startup called Getaround, and it's facilitated by a two-year, $475,000 federal research grant to the Center for Neighborhood Technology that's being implemented by the Shared-Use Mobility Center. Getaround claims that a car owner can make as much as $10,000 a year by renting out a vehicle and that renters can get a car to use when they need one for as little as $5 an hour.

Sharon Feigon says the new program is designed to test different models for car sharing in communities with different economic characteristics — ranging from low to moderate income communities in the city to more suburban areas like Evanston. "We'll also be surveying people about their use to better understand how it works and whether it actually leads to some people selling their cars, whether it reduces carbon dioxide emissions and vehicle miles traveled," says Feigon. "Car owners can make a little money and feel good that their car is in service to others. We expect 10,000 people will use the service over the two-year test period.''
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The Chicago Suburb That's Trying To Kill the Car

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  • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

    How is this different than any other major metropolitan area where car ownership isn't necessary within the city limits? It's all great when you have two major rail lines and half a dozen bus lines within a 10 minute walk. If you're a fast runner 20 minutes will get you almost anywhere within the Evanston, IL city limits. But it just isn't possible in 99.9% of the rest of the country that doesn't have major rail lines and multiple bus lines. I live in a Metropolitan area of 300k people and it's a 3 mile w

    • How is this different than any other major metropolitan area where car ownership isn't necessary within the city limits? It's all great when you have two major rail lines and half a dozen bus lines within a 10 minute walk. If you're a fast runner 20 minutes will get you almost anywhere within the Evanston, IL city limits. But it just isn't possible in 99.9% of the rest of the country that doesn't have major rail lines and multiple bus lines. I live in a Metropolitan area of 300k people and it's a 3 mile walk just to the nearest bus stop.

      The lack of auto dealerships is probably due to the high cost of real estate in Evanston. The presence of a car dealership does not correlate with the car-centricness of the town, especially that close to Chicago where there hundreds of other suburbs within 30 minute drive that all have car dealerships.
      The two major rail lines are actually one major rail line that happens to split right at Evanston, so it is great if the place you want to go is Chicago. Chicago's rail lines are start topology, so if you w

      • by jbengt ( 874751 )

        The two major rail lines are actually one major rail line that happens to split right at Evanston, so it is great if the place you want to go is Chicago. . . . I am not familiar with the bus service in Evanston, but I am familiar with bus service in other Chicago suburbs and I can tell you that it is a miserable experience that adds an hour to your commute.

        The UP-N Metra Rail line goes through Evanston between downtown Chicago and Kenosha, Wisconsin, so you can get to a lot of north shore towns and Chicag

        • by VVelox ( 819695 )

          The two major rail lines are actually one major rail line that happens to split right at Evanston, so it is great if the place you want to go is Chicago. . . . I am not familiar with the bus service in Evanston, but I am familiar with bus service in other Chicago suburbs and I can tell you that it is a miserable experience that adds an hour to your commute.

          The UP-N Metra Rail line goes through Evanston between downtown Chicago and Kenosha, Wisconsin, so you can get to a lot of north shore towns and Chicago neighborhoods on that line (though you will probably need to be picked up by someone in a car at the Metra station if you go north)

          Also Evanston has three CTA "L" lines (the Skokie Swift Yellow Line, the Evanston Express Purple Line, and the Howard Street Red Line) that all go to Chicago. So, yes, other than Skokie, you can't get to many suburbs on those lines.

          Evanston borders Chicago, so a lot of the buses are extensions of Chicago's CTA buses. Again, good for getting to places in Chicago, if slow. Pace buses to get to other suburbs are reliable, but, in my limited experience, exceedingly infrequent and slow.

          I think they will find that by becoming more dense, they will substitute the upper middle class people and the high property (and property tax) values for a larger number of lower income people with low property values.

          It is actually going the other way, with lower income residents complaining that they are getting pushed out by gentrification.

          Speaking as some one who lives in Chicago and is familiar with the Pace buses... the system is fucking useless. It is the sort of bus system the re-enforces car usage as soon as one can afford to, they stop using it.

    • Right... this is not exactly new.

      I live in St. Louis, specifically I live in an area called Compton Heights. What this means is that I have literally a 3 minute walk to a bus stop, maybe a 15 minute walk (or 5 minute bus ride) to the Metrolink (light rail) station. From there I can get to the airport, to the Delmar Loop (good restaurants and pubs and some esoteric shops) and so on. I'm probably 15 minutes walk from a couple of grocery stores, and like a lot of these city neighbourhoods we do also have a rat

      • The only downside is the crime rate here is rather bad

        Yeah, that's one of the things I was thinking of when reading your post (and others similar)....what good is it to be so very walkable, when you have to worry about getting mugged by thugs.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Does this mean you're "Straight out of Compton?"

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      If you're a fast runner 20 minutes will get you almost anywhere within the Evanston, IL city limits. But it just isn't possible in 99.9% of the rest of the country that doesn't have major rail lines and multiple bus lines. I live in a Metropolitan area of 300k people and it's a 3 mile walk just to the nearest bus stop.

      I think you missed the part where they said Evanston has been "pouring resources into increasing the density of its downtown." This is the result of those efforts.

      It seems reasonable that any city could be made more walking friendly by increasing the density of business and residential areas and decreasing the number of roads and especially parking available. When I travel to Evanston, I always end up parking on the outskirts and walking everywhere I go. When I travel to most other suburbs around Chicago, I

      • When I travel to Evanston, I always end up parking on the outskirts and walking everywhere I go.

        So, how does that work out for you during in climate weather? I'm led to believe that in the Chicago area, winters can be pretty long and harsh. You go around walking in that type of frigid, windy weather? What about heavy rainy days or high humidity days (more of what I get here in New Orleans)?

        This all seems well and good on a few nice days of the year, but what about the rest of the time when nature doesn'

        • "There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.” - Billy Connolly

          • Obviously someone who has never spent any significant amount of time out doors. Yes, the right gear really helps but some weather just sucks if you're going to be out in it for the next thirty days.
        • So, how does that work out for you during in climate weather? I'm led to believe that in the Chicago area, winters can be pretty long and harsh. You go around walking in that type of frigid, windy weather?

          Well, if you have a car in the city, you have to go out there and dig it out of the snow, you have to scrape the windshield, maybe find someone to help push you out of a drift.

          When the weather gets really bad in Chicago, a lot more people leave their cars at home.

        • by ranton ( 36917 )

          So, how does that work out for you during in climate weather? I'm led to believe that in the Chicago area, winters can be pretty long and harsh. You go around walking in that type of frigid, windy weather? What about heavy rainy days or high humidity days (more of what I get here in New Orleans)?

          Honestly, I stay home when the weather is horrible. The only place I can think of that I would always want adequate parking for is my supermarket, which is also one of the only places I would travel to in really bad weather. Supermarkets are rarely in a downtown area, at least in the suburbs I know of, often because they require so much parking.

          As for days that are simply cold and windy, just wear clothes meant for that weather.

      • Evanston just seems like kind of a bad example here. It's great that they are putting resources into this, but Evanston is certainly not a typical suburban enclave.

        Evanston has a huge college student population. Like any other college town, most of those students don't own cars and need to be able to walk or bus everywhere.

        Evanston is also integrated into Chicago's public transit system. This isn't one or two "park and ride" stations on a commuter rail line like most suburbs that have train access.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @08:52AM (#50816069)

    So, you can rent a car for as little as $5/hour (and presumably, rent your own car for a similar amount), and you can earn $10k/year renting your car?

    Which suggests you are renting your car out for 2000 hours a year (~6 hours a day)...

    Somehow, I don't think so.

    Also, there is the question of insurance (remember, the same problem people who hate Uber insist is a deal-killer?).

    • At first, I thought that was strange, too. It isn't completely unreasonable though. If you only use your car on the weekends (I take public transit to work during the week), you could possibly rent your car 8 hours/day, 5 days/week, ~50 weeks/year, which gives you that 2000 hours.

      I would guess that $10k is enough to cover whatever additional insurance you need, though it might not be much anyway. Insurance is more about the person driving than it is about the car itself.
  • Zoning and developers followed the desires of our parents and grandparents. You may not like cars but they were seen as the embodiment of freedom for your ancestors - go anywhere you want, quickly, and on your own schedule.
    The parts of cities that didn't support that attitude languished (inner cities) and areas that did flourished (suburbs).

    TLDR: Infrastructure conformed to the culture.

    • Corollary: Your grandparent's culture is old-fashioned and you don't want to have anything to do with it.

      Urban design as fashion. How depressing.

    • As well it should. If people wanted to live in areas with no cars and where everything was within walking distance ... they'd have moved to the inner city where that exists.

      Why is it that people feel the need to change something that other people are perfectly happy with? If people don't like living in the suburbs ... they'll move.

    • I guess they were a bit optimistic.

      What the car ends up embodying for most people is a 1+ hour slog each to and from work through heavy traffic, tailbacks and angry drivers. Like so many things, the idealistic dream didn't quite live up to reality, especially as everyone wanted to get on board and the infrastructure can't cope.

      This is not to say cars aren't useful, but given how people actually spend their time they embody commutes more than freedom.

    • Zoning and developers followed the desires of our parents and grandparents.

      Don't forget the desires of real estate developers.

      But just like urban areas have issues, so do suburbs - especially ones way out of town.

      Don't get me wrong - I live in a suburb, but I am within walking distance of hardware stores, shopping centers spirits stores, eateries and all the other niceties.

      But people have been hypnotized to the idea of suburbia, and there are people living 30 miles outside of town in what used to be farmer's fields. Dunno about those folks, but that McMansion sitting on the

    • You may not like cars but they were seen as the embodiment of freedom for your ancestors - go anywhere you want, quickly, and on your own schedule.

      What's the matter, your feet don't work on your own schedule?

      You know what else was the embodiment of freedom for your ancestors? Being able to crap wherever they want. They didn't even have to go indoors. They could just drop their loincloth and cop a squat whenever the spirit moved them. Now that's freedom, right there. Don't tread on me, motherfucker, bec

    • You may not like cars but they were seen as the embodiment of freedom for your ancestors - go anywhere you want, quickly, and on your own schedule.

      Sure, but they were both right and wrong. The freedom of the automobile is largely illusory; driving is a privilege and not a right, and it can be taken away from you at any time and on bullshit pretext, leaving you to fight to get it back. As well, you don't really own your car in a very real way; the state does, and it just permits you to use it once in a while. Don't think so? Don't pay your registration, leave the vehicle where the cops can see it from the road, and see what happens. Finally, only the m

    • Zoning and developers followed the desires of our parents and grandparents. You may not like cars but they were seen as the embodiment of freedom for your ancestors - go anywhere you want, quickly, and on your own schedule.

      And of course, whatever our grandparents did, they must have been absolutely correct about everything.

      Why? Because they were our grandparents, of course.

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @09:05AM (#50816133) Homepage

    And I utterly despise it. Here's how it works out.

    1) They tear down lanes, increasing traffic, and turn them into ugly, overly broad sidewalks and bike lanes that nobody uses [visir.is],

    2) Installing deliberate "baffles" to slow down traffic flow. For example, here on Snorrabraut [visir.is] they have the center lane as an alternating turn lane into every little side street, and the outerlane in each direction also repeatedly turn into turn lanes, so that drivers have to keep alternating between the left and right lanes... with stoplights at each little intersection, of course.

    3) "Increasing density" by ripping out all of the parking. This has the lovely side effect of, during busy times, cars that normally would have just parked instead have to circle around for long periods looking for spaces. Great for the environment, that! They usually rip out the parking first and then worry about whether they actually have anything to build there later.

    4) "Increasing density" by ripping out public spaces. The hardest one to see go was Hjartatorg, as it had been basically built up and decorated by the city's teenagers, murals covering every square meter of the sides.

    5) "Increasing density" by pushing out lower density businesses that people actually enjoy, like entertainment, for high density residential (these days, often hotels or apartments for tourists) and higher profit commercial.

    6) "Increasing density" by building "up". The city is covered in tower cranes, each competing to build taller buildings than the last, and all doing their damnedest to block views of the ocean and famous city landmarks.

    7) Going hyperaggressive on parking fines. There's even parking meters at the hospital parking lot, and meter readers go around ticketing patients' cars - even emergency room patients. On Menningarnótt they shut down car access to the entire city - which would be fine (it's a big festival), except that they don't provide nearly enough parking even for people at bus stops wanting to catch the buses into the city that they're supposed to take, and then go around ticketing all the cars on the outlots.

    8) Building new buildings with insufficient parking, or - latest trend - no parking at all.

    And on and on. It's so ridiculous in general, but even more ridiculous here on one of the windiest places on the planet [visir.is], where winter lasts half a year, where there's almost no sun in the winter, etc.

    And for what? So that we can't go places when we're sick or injured? So people can't commute? So that we have to exercise in their proscribed manner rather than our own? (my way to exercise is planting trees and improving my land... screw you, environment!) So that we have to live in little apartments in a city with ever-shrinking public spaces and ever-decreasing view? So that we can use a means of transportation that's 20+ times more likely to get you seriously injured per kilometer than driving, and almost as likely to seriously injure pedestrians [theweek.co.uk]? So that we can burn ~40 calories per kilometer biking (significantly more walking) which, at a local average embodied CO2 per food calorie of something of probably around 6g/kcal works out to 240g/km, three times worse than driving alone in a Prius** (even if you lower your baseline metabolism that only saves you about 14kcal/day/kg body mass reduction, far less than you burn to achieve that weight loss**)? Just ignoring the potentially even bigger issues from producing all of that extra food, such as methane emissions, destruction of habitat, algal blooms, pesticide pollution, damm

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rei ( 128717 )

      I'll just go ahead and point out that I'll not be bothered to listen to this "no, exercise is free, there's no environmental impact to walking or biking" tripe. There's a reason that Tour de France competitors burn 7000 calories a day. Exercise burns calories - that's what powers your muscles. That's the reason you get hungry after exercising a lot. And even if you lose weight, it's almost impossible to lose enough that your baseline metabolism lowers more than the exercise you spent achieving that weight l

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by justthinkit ( 954982 )

        Couldn't agree more.

        When I see "light rail" / rapid transit coming in, I know I will be steering well clear of that area. There won't be a single thing designed correctly -- overly wide lanes, but not enough of them; traffic lights that are sinked to the phases of the moon, or perhaps estrus; speed limit designed to make power walkers and old people look fast.

        And, as you say, for what? I would summarize this type of project as "Take 10 times too many resources, and make then 10 times less useful and effec

      • by unimacs ( 597299 )

        I'll just go ahead and point out that I'll not be bothered to listen to this "no, exercise is free, there's no environmental impact to walking or biking" tripe. There's a reason that Tour de France competitors burn 7000 calories a day. Exercise burns calories - that's what powers your muscles. That's the reason you get hungry after exercising a lot. And even if you lose weight, it's almost impossible to lose enough that your baseline metabolism lowers more than the exercise you spent achieving that weight loss. Or anywhere close. Bikes take very little energy to be propelled forward, but they get that energy in a horribly inefficient manner using an energy source with massive environmental impacts.

        If you're going to exercise, good for you if you put the energy expended toward a productive manner. But there's many, many productive ways to exercise. I, as mentioned, like to exercise on my land, doing projects like planting trees to help with reforestation and erosion control, among others. Some people exercise by playing with their kids, nurturing them and getting peace of mind. Some people exercise by building things. Some people exercise by gardening. And on and on. There's tons of ways to put exercise to productive uses. Not simply your preferred way, cyclists. And don't in any circumstance try to force others to exercise because "it's good for them". Should I get to dictate what's "good for you" to you, what you may and may not do in your life?

        I don't want to take part in your damned hobby. Stop trying to force me to take part in your damned hobby. And everyone else like me who has no interest in your damned hobby. Which is why most people don't take part in your hobby as it is.

        Evanston is a city in the US, a country where by and large the population consumes far more calories than they need. For the most part, cycling, walking, or whatever instead of driving isn't going to require them to eat any more calories than they already do. They'll just be healthier or find it less necessary to get their exercise in other ways. Which is worse, spending an hour a day cycling to and from work, or driving to work and then driving to a gym to spend an hour on a stationary bike?

        Just for som

      • " There's a reason that Tour de France competitors burn 7000 calories a day."

        Yes, there is. They're the world's most competitive cyclists, racing at speeds about 3 times higher than your average transportation cyclist, and remember that air resistance is a function of velocity squared. The power they're capable of generating, for hours on end, is nearly an order of magnitude greater than a person who does not cycle regularly.

        "Bikes take very little energy to be propelled forward, but they get that energy

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Installing deliberate "baffles" to slow down traffic flow.

      Around here, they call that "traffic calming", a funny little euphemism given that seems to translate into "road rage" when traffic backs up.

    • Follow the money, tearing down lanes is a lot of local money, ripping out parking means a developer can put up more units etc. Like usual the eco stupids are getting used to make people rich via new eco conscious laws.

    • 1) They tear down lanes, increasing traffic, and turn them into ugly, overly broad sidewalks and bike lanes that nobody uses [visir.is],

      There's an easy solution to this. Ride a bike. I mean the typical complaint we get out of America is you don't ride a bike because there's no bikelanes and thus its dangerous. So what's the excuse now?

      Personally I don't see what the problem is, but then at the moment I live in the Netherlands and ALL our streets look like the ones you linked to .... except there's less cars and far more bicycles.

      • There's an easy solution to this. Ride a bike.

        In Iceland. In winter. Yeah, that sounds like fun to me....

    • Evanston did a lot of that, too - broad sidewalks, killed off parking, increased density. It was an unholy mess about 15 years ago when I left college. Small businesses hated it (try walking your purchases from the hardware store back) and lots went out of business. Then they built up even more density, built a new downtown center next to the old downtown center, *finally* built some parking garages, and it started to pick up. Post-bubble rebound in the mid 2000's helped.

      Honestly - Evanston is a lovely plac

    • I am inviting you to move to a place where car owners are more than welcome. [washingtonpost.com]

      Where "car culture" is in full effect.
      Where vast acreage is set aside for parking, and great 10 lane freeways bustle and swell with the endless traffic you so desire.
      A place where getting around with mass transit or a bicycle is possible, but very difficult and requires spending an extra two-three hours each day for your commute and the patience of a saint.
      This is a place where it is routine to see massive lifted diesel tru [dieselsellerz.com]
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Ég segi 'nei'

      My automatic translator doesn't seem to parse barbarian rune script. ;-) Now, if I remember, "I say 'no?"

      Two things... One, I'm glad you stated it so eloquently. Two, in some areas - well, this could have been a good thing. Optimization of traffic can include actually reducing throughput by way of increased public transportation and other varied metrics that I don't need to detail because I know you're smart. I specifically worked in the field of traffic modeling. That said, it sounds like

  • Clutch (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @09:20AM (#50816219) Homepage Journal

    The Chicago Suburb That's Trying To Kill the Car

    Just let out the clutch real fast without giving it enough gas.

  • The suburbs are for cars. The problem is that too many people live in the suburbs. More people should live in cities. Many people don't want to live in cities because they are awful to live in. That is a problem which can be solved. Cities are more efficient than suburbs. Instead of making cities nicer and going towards efficiency, we went towards suburban sprawl. People are now commonly commuting for more than two hours a day. That uses a lot of energy, creates a lot of pollution, and wastes a lot of time

    • We have this problem in Montreal... Montreal is losing about 20'000 people per year, everyone is going in the suburbs, problem is that Montreal is an island and the bridges are packed every morning and every evening... What was a 20 minutes commute 10 years ago is now almost an hour. And bridges are old and are falling... Taking the train/metro/bus would take me between 1h15 and 1h30 which is worst.
    • "The problem is that too many people live in the suburbs. More people should live in cities."

      This is a subjective statement of opinion, not fact. YOU FEEL that more people should live in cities.

      "Instead of making cities nicer and going towards efficiency, we went towards suburban sprawl."

      It is a display of massive hubris that the only explanation you can grok for this is that there's something broken about cities that can be fixed to make them magically appeal to everybody. You appear incapable of graspi

      • This is a subjective statement of opinion, not fact. YOU FEEL that more people should live in cities.

        Well, no. With our current level of responsibility and technology, this practice is unsustainable. Thus, more people need to live in cities. Or, we will have to make other significant changes.

        It is a display of massive hubris

        I have noticed that this phrase, on slashdot, is always followed by a display of massive hubris. Your hypocrisy impresses no one, least of all me.

        You appear incapable of grasping the evidence that for the last 70 years, much of America has wanted - at MOST - to live a casual drive away from a city but not in one.

        You appear incapable of grasping that people who cannot afford to live near work will not live near work whether they want to, or not, and that you are counting these people

  • Buzzwords (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @09:27AM (#50816263)

    I lived in a city that thought they were being smart by discouraging car traffic. They made large stores like Walmart undersize their parking lots on purpose to make it frustrating to find parking. They turned all tertiary roads into cul de sacs. They even timed the signals to create maximum traffic. All they accomplished was making traffic really bad. Nobody stopped driving. There are some basic facts that these nuts don't seems to understand:

    1. Most people do not want to live with common walls. It's an incredibly stressful way of life.
    2. Most people do not want to live in high density urban centers. People want some space of their own.
    3. You can't do things like shop by taking the bus or train. Who's going to carry your groceries, the bus driver?
    4. People with children want space for them to play outside without having to be constantly vigilant. That means a private yard.

    I'm happy for these people to make their places unlivable. They are driving up my property values.

  • by He Who Has No Name ( 768306 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @09:42AM (#50816329)

    But they're wielding the Department of Transportation and urban zoning as blunt weapons to do it, and being serious assholes about the whole thing.

    They're also failing to realize that by running off people who want or need to drive into the city, they're going to end up choking off commerce. But the limp-wristed hipsters running the place now either don't care or would see it as some kind of redistributive, disruptive accomplishment, so I kind of just want to watch the entire shebang come crashing down in flames to see the expression on their faces.

    • They're also failing to realize that by running off people who want or need to drive into the city, they're going to end up choking off commerce.

      Actually what is more likely to happen is that it will attract people who can adapt, and those who can't will whither away to a dark corner to moan about it.
      The simple fact is that cars do not scale in large, dense cities. The only model that can work is pedestrian oriented with strong public transport options, so it makes sense to pursue this.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @09:45AM (#50816341)

    It seems to be an article of faith among urban planners that the way to deal with cars is just to get rid of them, as if you can wave your hands and simply undo 60-odd years of growth and sprawl enabled by cars.

    For sure cars have drawbacks, but so many of the planning decisions which seem to be anti-car seem to be somewhat ideologically driven rather than recognizing that arbitrarily making cars more difficult (less parking, narrower roads built with "traffic calming" features, etc) really is a kind of net negative when the larger geography and established infrastructure can't possibly be adapted on a timescale to accommodate it.

    We had hundreds of miles of streetcar in 1950, but rebuilding it with light rail has taken over a decade and there's only two lines built. It's cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.7 billion dollars to build those two lines. I think the projected cost of the Southwest line is something on the order of 1.5 billion dollars and has a crazy route that will maul some of the city's parks and somehow manages not to serve the Hennepin Avenue corridor, despite it being one the most ideal places to build rail service to support existing high density residence.

    The bus system is a joke, only practical for suburban commuters -- any kind of urban trip you could make in 20 minutes in a car is an hour odyssey not including time spent waiting for the bus.

    • It seems to be an article of faith among urban planners that the way to deal with cars is just to get rid of them, as if you can wave your hands and simply undo 60-odd years of growth and sprawl enabled by cars.

      Sprawl yes, growth no. The growth would have happened regardless, even without the sprawl. People have to live someplace. If we'd stuck with rail we'd have cities on rail lines, and less suburbs. But we went with cars and we got the sprawl, and cities on highways and freeways.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      It seems to be an article of faith among urban planners that the way to deal with cars is just to get rid of them, as if you can wave your hands and simply undo 60-odd years of growth and sprawl enabled by cars.

      I gave a lift to an urban planner once. He didn't drive, so relied on his bike or car drivers when he wanted to travel.

      Needless to say, the roads in the city he 'planned' are so bad that driving through the downtown parking lots is usually faster than taking the road. And I'm not joking, if you get in a taxi, that's the route they'll usually take.

  • considering Chicago's murder rate this year.
    • Jeez, Chicago isn't even in the top 30! The places with the worst murder rates tend to be medium sized cities, not big ones.

      Camden NJ, York PA, Cincinnati OH, St. Louis, Flint MI, Saginaw MI, New Orleans, Chester PA, Oakland CA.

      If you checked the 100 most dangerous cities in America, Chicago wouldn't be on the list.

      http://www.neighborhoodscout.c... [neighborhoodscout.com]

  • by drizzlies ( 1052582 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @10:28AM (#50816655)

    I really do like Evanston... been working here for almost 14 years and I've gotten a chance to see the building boom in downtown during that time. It really is more of a city than a suburb. There's plenty of suburban sprawl too... many tree-lined side streets with a garage for every house, and lots of cars parked along said streets. It's just downtown that is building up so dramatically. The only limit to outward spread is the fact that there's a great big lake along the entire eastern edge of town, a great big city to the south, and already-sprawled suburbs to the north and west.

    For many of us that commute to Evanston for work or for entertainment, a car is still a necessity. The surrounding suburbs, and even parts of the city, lack a convenient public transportation method to get there efficiently - multiple slow buses or interchanges between bus and rail. And the big parking lot along the lakefront, also known as Northwestern University, pulls in many cars like mine that have to travel along congested streets. Streets that are poorly plowed at best in winter. I'm fairly certain Evanston has just one snowplow that they loan out to Chicago at the first sign of snow.

    The most car-unfriendly development in recent years has been the new system of bike lanes. I'm all for making it safe, convenient, and desirable to use a bicycle to commute and would love to see a bike lane on just about every street. But they decided in some downtown areas to put the bicycle lane next to the curb, between the sidewalk and parked cars. While this is great for helping bicyclists avoid being "doored" by oblivious motorists exiting vehicles, it means that when I make a right turn across a bike lane I have to somehow have kept track of potential bicyclists over the last block and be able to see through the SUV that is inevitably parked at the corner in order to make sure I'm not cutting off or running over a rider.

    It really doesn't help that too many cyclists in Evanston are just plain batshit crazy (far more so than those I've seen in Chicago). Speeding along side streets or main streets with no regard for stop signs and little regard for stoplights. Often clad in spandex, hunched over the handlebars as if they're racing to the end of the next stage.

  • But that's communistic!

  • Eventually the density of the city will be so high that it'll look a bit like this [wikipedia.org].

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