Tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 22, is Chicagoland Car-Free Day! Our Commute Options providers Active Transportation Alliance, CTA, Metra, and Pace all encourage area residents to ditch their car and commute to work by bus, train, bicycle, walking—or any other alternatives to driving alone. Chicagoland Car-Free day is part of a worldwide campaign known as World Car-Free Day.
For those of us who live in suburban communities, Car-Free Day makes us aware of the challenges the Chicago area faces in embracing car-free travel options. Case in point, my own commute from Elk Grove Village to MPC is a traditional suburb-to-city commute. I live two-and-a-half miles from the Metra Station, which is located in a neighboring community in another county. While my own community has an extensive network of bicycle trails, unfortunately the trails don’t currently connect to the community where the train station is located. A bicycle trip to the Metra station would require traveling on two roads with high speed limits.
While the community I live in is planned and has sidewalks and streetlights, the trip to the train station would require walking along a dirt path next to a guard rail for one segment of the trip.
Pace service between my neighborhood and the Itasca Metra Station is limited. It works for the morning commute, but the last bus leaves Itasca before my evening train arrives at the station.
So in miles, the majority of my daily commute is car-free, but the last two-and-a-half miles are the challenging part.
Suburban companies participating in our Commute Options pilot program have told me that many of their employees face these same types of challenges. The goal of Car-Free Day is to raise awareness about these challenges, so that organizations like MPC and Active Trans can partner with our region's transportation decision makers to make changes that make car-free an option for more Chicago-area commuters.
To find out how to get involved in Car-Free Day, plus resources for bicycling, walking, public transit, ridesharing, pretax transit programs, visit the Active Transportation Alliance’s web site.