Shared Wheels and Cheap Rides: You don’t need a car in Chicago!

In most areas of the country having a car is a necessity. However, in Chicago one has always been able to get away without having a vehicle, and it’s only getting easier to do so.

2I’ve been a resident of the greatest city in the Midwest for 13 years and I just got my first car. I owned a home before leasing or owning a car and didn’t give it a second thought. I was even a landlord before considering having a car to fill my empty parking spot.

Between the CTA and Metra, Chicago has one of the best public transportation systems in the country.

The El is an easy way to get from almost any of the 77 city neighborhoods into the Loop, and almost every major street has bus service. Car sharing services such as Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare have been available for over a decade and continue to grow. In just four years the divvy bike share system has gone from 75 stations and 750 bikes to 620 stations and 6,200 bikes, and data shows that 42% of divvy rides are for work commutes.

Many argue that Uber and Lyft make it easier than ever to go car-less, and in the grand scheme of things those are relatively new to the market.

So how can it possibly get easier for Chicagoans without a vehicle? The transit-oriented developments are beginning to multiply. Several years ago incentives were offered to builders who developed multi-unit dwellings within a specified distance from transit stations. This program allowed developers to dedicate fewer parking spots per unit than the law previously acceptable. The initiative generated so much positive development activity that the specified distance from a transit station was quickly doubled, and the number of parking spaces was brought down further if developers agreed to build in alternative transit options such as zip car parking or divvy stations.

3There are now literally thousands of units available (and many more on the way) for carless Chicagoans to choose from that are mere steps from El stations. If a resident of a TOD (transit oriented development) needs to rent a zipcar to go play golf in the suburbs they probably do not need to leave their building to do so. If a person needs to travel between two points that are not on the same train or bus line quickly and cheaply there is guaranteed to be a divvy station close to both the departure point and destination.

In Chicago you can always get where you want to go, and unlike many other cities you can do this while avoiding huge car and insurance payments along the way!


Miami’s Metromover is getting over the Causeway and other bumps

transportation-detail-default--606-x-335Miami-Dade County prepares Metromover extensions for Miami Beach and Wynwood. In their first nascent move toward realizing the multi-billion dollar SMART transit plan, county officials stated that the planned linking of the beach and the downtown area could add another 10 stops for the Metromover.

Concurrently, Uber has added Miami to its list of cities where the lauded ride-sharing app includes public transportation information in real-time. This integration is currently being piloted in 40 U.S. markets with the hopes of nationwide expansion.

South Florida in general has amongst the most congested roads in the world; in fact we rank number 10 in the world. Ten is scary considering the metro is just over 100 years old. To put that in perspective, Los Angeles has a 12.7 percent congestion rate which means drivers spend 12.7 percent of their commutes in traffic. Miami is at 8.7 percent and ranks fifth amongst most congested areas in the United States with much less of a footprint than Los Angeles. This is ahead of D.C., Boston, Dallas and even Chicago.

South Florida, like most new metros, was built backwards. It began with an urban core but quickly sprouted other towns and eventually cities outside of the city limits. Coral Gables, Hialeah, Doral and Kendall (not yet a city) are some examples of the initial urban sprawl that created this traffic monster. As little as ten years ago, Downtown Miami was a place you did not want to be after 5pm for its crime rate, lack of open businesses, and overall rundown look.

Luckily, we are now at a crossroads where we have “run out of land” and are looking back into the urban core for development. At the top of the list should be a focus on mass transit and the need for it to catch up to new development. I commend the county and Uber for spearheading the future of mass transit in Miami.