Sunday, July 13, 2008

your ride & how it changes your trip - part 2

A reader of part 1 commented that riding in the suburbs can be a very different experience from riding in the city. All suburbs are not created equal.

Older inner-ring suburbs and older city neighborhoods that were developed before World War 2 were designed for walking, bike riding, and public transit use and are generally more bike and ped friendly. Evanston and Oak Park are good examples: fairly compact and walkable, with smaller business districts in addition to downtowns. Public transit is good. Living without a car or with minimal use of a car is feasible.

Suburbs and newer city neighborhoods, developed after World War 2, when our culture became very car-centric, followed a very different pattern. Modern zoning practices separated huge subdivisions from shopping and downtown areas. Public transit was not part of the equation in the post-war development of places like Schaumburg or city neighborhoods near Midway and O'Hare that were still small farms or airfields until the 1950s or 60s. Cul de sacs and meandering patterns of side streets are the norm in many of these places - streets that only feed onto a busy main street and do not connect to each other. These busy main streets are designed for moving fast and often lack sidewalks. They were designed exclusively for car use, with no consideration for other modes of transportation. Retrofitting these road plans for bicycle and pedestrian use is not always easy, and NIMBYism by local residents sometimes delays or prevents it. Or residents may choose to take a step backwards.

Here's a posting on another local blog that gives a vivid illustration of a place where transportation does not work well - for anyone.

Which is your favorite Chicago suburb for bike riding and/or walking? Which is your LEAST favorite? How about your favorite and least favorite Chicago neighborhoods? Curious minds want to know.

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