Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting From There to Here and Back Again

I’ve lived in a bunch of different places in my many years here on Planet Earth, but the majority of the time has been in and around the Windy City. Chicago is so flat and (thanks to the Chicago Fire – not the soccer team, the other one – and Daniel Burnham) laid out so logically. It would always take me a while in every other place to get my bearings and figure out what’s what.

When I relocated to Minneapolis/St. Paul, I went looking for a place to live and I had what I thought was the standard criteria in mind – price, number of bedrooms, neighborhood, distance from work, schools for the kids, etc. Never, ever did I consider the need to take into consideration which direction on the compass my house was from where my office was situated. When you grow up in Chicago, you don’t have the option of living EAST of the city – Lake Michigan kinda gets in the way.

In the Twin Cities, however, even in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, lakes don’t get in the way – there are interstate highways that actually CIRCLE these two adjacent cities. What a concept!! You can actually live east of where you work AND NEVER AGAIN HAVE TO DRIVE INTO THE BLAZING SUN EITHER GOING TO WORK OR GOING HOME!

No wonder the people up there are so nice.

On the other hand, their public transportation system pales by comparison to Chicago’s. They have some buses and a light rail line or two, but nothing like our CTA and Metra. Most people just drive everywhere. In addition, rush hour traffic seems to double on Friday afternoons because nearly every vehicle is pulling some kind of boat or (most of the year) a trailer with between one and four snowmobiles. But I digress…

With the price of gas, the price of parking, the cost of automotive maintenance, etc., why do people still drive when they work or go to school at UIC? There are bus routes that crisscross the campus. There are three CTA stations. There’s a shuttle bus that goes between two of the commuter train stations and campus during rush hours. There’s a Metra station just south of South Campus. There are also lots of bicycle racks and several places where folks can shower. AND then there’s that pre-tax transit benefit thingie. This is a real Win-Win situation.

The recently released draft UIC Climate Action Plan sets a goal of a 30% reduction in the use of cars for commuting to campus over the next 22 years. This goal is going to be used by the Master Plan consultants when they calculate future campus parking requirements.

But don’t wait for that. This is something we can all do to help now AND NEVER AGAIN HAVE TO DRIVE INTO THE BLAZING SUN EITHER GOING TO WORK/SCHOOL OR GOING HOME!

Please share your own commuting epiphanies and/or horror stories, or even why driving every day makes the most sense. Come on. This is supposed to be interactive and hip, using all this new-fangled technology and stuff.

For more information on our Climate Action Plan and other things you can do to extend the life of Planet Earth, go to www.sustainability.uic.edu.

Until next Friday…

1 comment:

  1. Parking is too cheap. That's why I drive. Between getting on the metra AND paying for the UIC shuttle, it ends up being too expensive.

    The campus should raise rates monthly rates, (and maybe reduce daily/visitor parking) to de-incentivise 5 day a week commuting. Any new money raised by parking instead of pumping it back into parking administration, should provide free shuttles to the train stations (or at least make it easier to pay) - try to provide the UPass for staff & faculty, and pressure metra to join the program.

    The problem is that anyone who has been with UIC for any amount of time, knows that "we don't have the money" will trump any good or radical ideas. (I hope the campus proves me wrong!)

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