Pedestrian Plan keeps Chicago economically competitive with global cities
Chicago Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein announces the city's first-ever comprehensive pedestrian plan.
This week the Chicago Department of Transportation released the city’s first-ever pedestrian plan, with the goal of zero pedestrian fatalities in 10 years.
Reducing the number of people being hit and killed by cars is enough of a reason to focus on pedestrian safety, but there is the added advantage of strengthening Chicago’s standing as a global city. Picture the world’s great economic centers. What comes to mind? Large, dense urban areas where walking, biking, and transit are integral to the way of life.
It is simply not possible to create the amount of economic activity that takes place in Chicago’s Loop if everyone is expected to arrive there each day by car. Today, only 25 percent of Loop workers drive alone. Sixty-two percent of daily commuters come to the Loop via transit, and the rest walk, bike and carpool. Regardless of their initial mode, they are all pedestrians at once point in their journey.
It’s also interesting to note that young Americans are choosing to delay driving. What was once a rite of passage at 16 has turned passé. In 1995 nearly 41 percent of 16 year olds received their driver’s license. Today, that percentage has dropped to 28. Cars are being traded for bicycles, transit cards and, of course, tennis shoes. The great American cities are catering to this new demand by rolling out bike sharing programs, increases in transit service—like bus rapid transit—and improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks and the like to make walking not only safe but fun and enjoyable. With the Pedestrian Plan, Chicago is keeping pace with demand and making itself an attractive destination for new young workers and families.
Cities are ever-changing. To position itself for growth and success in the future, Chicago must, and is, doing all it can to make itself the most bike, transit and walking friendly city in the nation. Architect Mark Sexton sums it up nicely, “the planning of the last century was centered on the car, while this one will be centered on the individual.”