Pipe Dream for Tuesday

ZipCar in Baltimore followed up with its new users to see how their attitudes about transportation methods changed after joining ZipCar. It’s not really surprising that they drove less.

It’s been hot and I’ve been busy at night. So all of last week, I took the bus or stayed home, leaving my bike locked up in the basement (which flooded in the record rainfall. Heavy weather, anyone?). I rode into work this morning. The Lakefront trail was generally cool and not crowded at all.  Morning Lake tweet: “Lake looks sleepy this morning: dark, still, leisurely swatting the sun away.”

But I start my route on Broadway. Which this morning was lined with panel vans, dumpsters, and ordinary parked cars. Despite being on the center divider, waiting to make my left turn, I was nearly brushed by a CPD SUV passing me on the right. So I got to thinking.

Broadway by my house is very very busy. Lots of shops, restaurants, foot traffic, car traffic, bike traffic. The marathon runs down it; so does the Pride Parade. Clark/Broadway from Fullerton to Addison is served by both the #22 and #36 buses. The intersection of Broadway and Belmont is served by the #36, #77, #151 and #156 buses. Two-tenths of a mile to the east, you can pick up the #145, #146, #143 and #135 buses. Three-tenths of mile to the west, you can get the #8. Another 380 feet and you can catch the #22. No-one need ever drive here as a matter of routine.

Most places along Broadway, between Diversey and Addison, the sidewalk is only just wide enough for two or three people. But restaurants put out tables and shops put out sales racks; there are bus stops, mailboxes, bike racks, telephone poles. People walk around holding hands, or pushing strollers and grocery carts. They stand on the corner, smoking. The congestion on the sidewalks is awful.It’s worse on the street.

Will dropped me at the Tea and Coffee Exchange recently (we were driving–we do it sometimes, usually when we’re buying a months’ worth of cat food, liquor, and canned goods), .2 miles straight up the road from the house. I went in, bought coffee, and walked home, stopping to check the mail before he got home.

If we eliminated the parking in the 1.6 miles from Clark and Fullerton to Broadway and Addison, we would not limit the accessibility of the neighborhood. Remember? 11 bus routes stop about one-third of a mile from Broadway. Not only that, the el stop at Belmont is served by two lines and is only just half-a-mile away.

We could make the sidewalks pleasant to walk on. We could put in a protected bike lane. If people didn’t see the neighborhood as a place one must drive to, or drive in, it might become possible to get through the intersection at Belmont and Broadway in less time than it takes to browse through the Tea and Coffee Exchange and then stroll two-tenths of a mile home.

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