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My Father, Walking the Walk (and Biking the Bike)

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

For as long as I've been alive (and I believe longer than that), my Father has practiced what Scott and I have been preaching here for only a few months.  Despite living in Chicago's suburbs, he has transit access comparable to anywhere in the city, and he takes full advantage.  He rides his bike a mile and a half each way to the Metra station.  (Try as he might, he can't convince me it's uphill both ways.)  His briefcase and (if he's working out that day) gym bag fit easily into his saddle bags.  He rides in his work clothes--which sometimes means a suit--and so he usually goes at a comfortable pace.  His reflective vest may look dorky, but the streets near our house aren't lit as well as Chicago's, so it's a necessity, especially in the winter when the sun is only in the sky for a few hours.  He'll ride in the rain and the cold, but tries to avoid the snow--not because he can't, but because he doesn't trust drivers.

He's always worked in the loop, so it's just a quick walk from the train station to his office--again, rain or shine.  Sure, this is all a lifestyle choice for him, though I've never heard him say it in those terms.  He doesn't proselytize about any of it--it's just what he does.  He has a car because not all of his weekend errands can be done on foot or bike--though some can.  It's a hybrid, but that was an economic decision as much as anything else--same goes for upgrading our house's A/C system.

When I was about 11, he patiently explained to me that State & Madison was the center of the universe, and told me the next time I came downtown to visit him at work I was on my own to get to him.  It helped that he drew me the most detailed map I'd ever seen--I think it included cardinal directions, wayfinding landmarks, addresses, and even how many paces it would take, as if I was seeking buried treasure.  I found my way, and realized as time went by that there were a number of different ways to get to him and got to explore a little slice of the city--hooray for a robust street grid!

Do I wish he'd wear a helmet? Yes, but old dog/new tricks and all that.  Does he roll stop signs? Yep.  But fortunately our home town's street design doesn't encourage reckless speeding and aren't so busy that it's dangerous.  Could he convince more people around us to do what he does if he'd stop being so unassuming about it? Probably, but they're all old dogs with their own old tricks, too.  Would it be a better place if more people realized how easy it is to make actions like this a lifetime habit?  Absolutely.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

The New C-Pass's Impending Failure, or: Why Federal Policy Matters [UPDATED]

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

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The Chicago Transit Board approved a pilot program for a Convention Pass, or C-Pass, at last week's Board Meeting.  It's a simple $3/day pass that will be sold in bulk to convention organizers, who will then pass out the passes to attendees before they arrive.  I have no qualms with the program, and like that the CTA is using a targeted pilot program to get a handle on a revenue source which, judging by the low price, is currently untapped.  Implementing the program in such a way so that convention-goers will have the pass in hand before they arrive at O'Hare or Midway is exactly what has to happen to keep rental cars from clogging McCormick Place's already overused parking lots.

But here's the rub (there's always one in this city): the only way to use the C-Pass to actually get to or from McCormick Place is the 129 bus which only runs during weekday rush hours, and never ventures north of Washington in the loop.  This bus does run by many of the hotels used by convention-goers, but its limited hours gives them little flexibility--the hallmark of useful transitUPDATE: the 3 and 21 buses also run to McCormick Place, my mistake.  I don't believe this undermines my point, but it certainly shows that as the C-Pass gets distributed, the CTA and convention organizers should be sure to point out which bus lines connect attendees' hotels with the convention.

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Bikes, Trains, and not Automobiles

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

I've talked in the past about encouraging more bikers to commute to work, but I've failed to integrate one type of bike commuter; the type that only bikes for part of their commute.  Many people live too far from work to bike the entire distance and instead need to incorporate both their bike and the train as a means of getting to the office.  The Metra and the CTA say they are bike-friendly, but let's fact it, they really aren't.  In this post I will discuss a few ways that both the CTA and Metra can improve the commute for their distance commuters.


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