Last Wednesday night, after the blizzard had stopped and the city had plowed arterial roads, I took two buses to Pilsen in 36 minutes. Transit buses have an average speed lower than bicycling and I don’t think I could have biked there in 36 minutes. (I didn’t want to bike because I didn’t know the condition of roads from my new place in Avondale to dinner in Pilsen.)
I credit the speedy journey to the complete lack of cars on the road and the few people wanting to go out on Wednesday, as well as ride the bus.
The blizzard gave Chicagoans a break. Hundreds of thousands of workers stayed home on Wednesday. Thousands more got the day off on Thursday. Car traffic remained light through Friday and the Chicago Transit Authority trains and buses were packed on Thursday (partially because of mechanical problems on the Blue Line but also because of new riders who couldn’t drive or carpool).
Chicagoans enjoy strolling through Humboldt Park. Photo by Joshua Koonce.
Many people took walking tours around their parks and neighborhoods, or went to see the calamity of Lake Shore Drive. Flickr is loaded with the explorers’ photos. Check out 2,000+ labeled “snomg chicago.”
The blizzard’s effect on traffic and roads
The snow plows inadvertently created a curb extension at the main intersection in Wicker Park, often used as part of a traffic calming project. This was gone on Saturday, but in addition to its removal, the entire corner sidewalk was cleared.
A lot of bike lanes are buried right now and people riding bikes are riding in the middle shared lanes, further calming traffic. I’m not sure how long the civility I noticed between drivers and bicyclists last week will last, even as bike lanes remain “closed” or have been illegally co-opted into backup parking lanes. See next photo.
These drivers have illegally parked their cars in the bike lane. The municipal code does not offer any relevant (i.e. snow-related) exemptions for parking or standing in bike lanes.
Riding and driving through town has been interesting. There’s no room for people riding bikes to share the lane with drivers side by side, so they must share it front to back.