Is there a way to get through Chicago traffic, sanity intact?

The link to the OP.

Garmin offers 3 different traffic servicesfor some of it’s products. I have a nüvi device with MSN Direct that gives alternate routes depending on the traffic.

Um, don’t drive.

Get a book, a newspaper, or a magazine, and take CTA. Read, relax and let someone else do the driving.

Part of the reason that traffic is such a miserable experience is because millions of people just like you, stuck in their own little universe, don’t think about the bigger picture. And all of them sit in traffic wondering why someone else doesn’t just widen the street to accommodate their unthinking addiction to automobiles.

I noticed NYC wasn’t on that list of ‘worst commutes’. Probably because people there don’t drive. Driving is miserable. Unless you’re out on a country road, driving is a lot of work. That’s why so many people in cities get paid to do it for other people.

Or -you could get a bike and ride parts of the commute (you can bring bikes on the CTA -I do it all the time). At least during spring, summer and fall.

You are right to think that sitting in traffic is hell. The solution, however, doesn’t involve the car. It involves people coming to realize that they are part of something bigger, i.e. a massive city, and that we have to collectively coordinate our actions so that we all can avoid the chaotic anarchy of individual people battling it out in deadlocked traffic.

Oh yeah, and there’s this thing called climate change…

The answer for me was simple: timing and low expectations.

For a couple of years I made almost monthly round trips between Milwaukee and Cleveland. Driving was much cheaper than flying, and as I was getting right around 35 mpg with my Camry, the carbon foot-print wasn’t that much larger than flying, I don’t think. And have you ever checked the Milwaukee/Cleveland schedule on Amtrak? Not so good. And if we’re going to get out of cars, we have to get the pricing right, too. Even the summer of '07 with $3.00 gas, driving was prohibitively cheaper.

So, for those who have to travel through Chicago, instead of to Chicago, or in Chicago, here’s the deal. First, of course, never schedule yourself to be around the loop during rush hour. I could vary my departure time in the morning, by hours, and my crossing time at the Skyway Bridge varied by quarter hours. I found at midday that it was better on the Edens, the Kennedy, the Dan Ryan (even during the reconstruction) and the Skyway, than it was on the Tollway going around the city. I used that route once, and concluded never again.

Second, on occasion, vary the trip just for the hell of it. If I felt like I wanted to get an early morning start rather than sitting around until 10am, and there wasn’t anything useful I could do at work for an hour, I’d sometimes take Sheridan road through Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan, and the North Shore suburbs before getting on the Dan Ryan, or continuing down Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island to the Skyway.

Last, don’t raise any expectations, so you have less frustration. I recognized that I was going to spend between 2hrs20min and 3hrs to travel 106 miles to the Indiana border (and 70 or so of those miles would average 60 mph). No getting around it, the remaining 30 odd miles would take an hour 15 minutes or more.

There aren’t any magic bullets, and I think switching routes mid-stream will get you in more trouble. I once tried going down the Edens a way, and then moving east to the Sheridan road/Lake Shore Drive route during the Dan Ryan rebuild, and found the while it might have seemed like I was moving more, It was one the longest transits.

Hope this helps.

Um, no. Not everyone sitting in a traffic jam has the ability to use transit. They may be traveling through the region, they may be hauling bulky stuff that you’d be bitching about if they brought it onto the train, or they may be simply deathly afraid of getting mugged.

The person who wrote the original question was trying to get through Cook County from north to south quickly without needing to swim through Lake Michigan or detour through Iowa. The El won’t be too helpful for that.

They just wanted you to see Lake Opeka?

“they may be simply deathly afraid of getting mugged.”

What universe do you live in?

The chances of getting mugged on the CTA are immensely lower than getting killed in a car accident. I’ve ridden CTA at all hours of the day and I’ve never felt unsafe on the trains.

Point taken on the situation of those hauling heavy equipment for their work. I dont really understand what relevance that has for the majority of commuters. But point taken.

But about the issue of “how do I get from my northern suburb to some other place in the Chicago area” I have two things to say.

First, I don’t know the situation, but the Metra is a fast, comfortable option that should be explored. If it doesn’t work, I think this speaks to the need to have more extensive light rail service to the burbs.

Second, people make a choice when they live in a suburb. They want to go for the large, single-family home with a car-intensive lifestyle. But in doing this they separate themselves from the metropolis and work opportunities. They willingly cordon themselves off. If it’s inconvenient to travel from suburb to suburb, this is because suburbs are inherently (given the way they are laid out physically in our area) inconvenient. They were haphazardly sketched up in the 50s by property speculators who didn’t care about the public impact of building new communities, or about any way of getting around save for the automobile. They weren’t planned out with foresight, they were planned out to make quick cash since the government was subsidizing suburbanization.

Consider an analogous situation that faces many of your city-dwelling counterparts: there are many parts of the city (e.g. bridgeport, west ridge, roscoe village, austin, etc.) which are not near elevated rail service. This makes them inconvenient places to live, transit wise. So, if someone were moving to Chicago and wanted transit convenience, I’d say live near an “L” stop, just as you’d want to live near a supermarket, a bank, etc.

Again, the idea that our infrastructure should be arranged in order to accommodate the individual whims of car-drivers is outmoded. This is a terrible way to get around, its nerve wrecking, its polluting, its expensive, and its unsustainable.

Here’s another good resource:
“This home page is provided as an effort of the Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee (GCM) Priority Corridor Partners: Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).”
The cameras are really handy.

Maybe to grab a cheeseburger from Paradise Pup?

One where a boy was attacked on his very first time riding the bus two weeks ago.