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The Mechanics
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Public Transportation Tue May 03 2011

How Far Will You Walk?

Walk further to the El? Or risk waiting forever to a bus?

Few either/ors are more prevalent, or more frustrating, in urban living. The first thing you want with transit is speed; and when you may end up waiting for a bus to take you to that train, you'll sometimes just walk. But when the walk to the train is too long (or it is too damn cold) you'll just give up the ghost and take the car, if you have one, despite the parking headache. Or waste money on a cab.

The question is, how far will people walk before they give up? Transit experts say 400 meters, or a quarter mile (or in local parlance, "two blocks"). This of course isn't a hard-and-fast cut off, but a point on the slope:

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In an interesting post on the issue, Human Transit looks at different approaches to working this fact into transit planning. The post mentions the fact that people will "walk further to rail" (really, just walk further to faster transit), which makes the city's pilot program in Bus Rapid Transit [PDF] more compelling. In our fourth-street-main-street grid system, where we have sub-community areas about every half-mile to mile, one BRT route on every eighth block would help stretch the willing-to-walk radius a bit, but given its speed not prohibitively.

In any case, our transit system is rickety and worse, has done little to innovate. Air quality, quality of life, public health, and economic development would all be served by a more mobile and active citizenship.

When you're making the choice -- how far are you willing to walk?

 
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anthony / May 3, 2011 6:37 PM

I always choose to walk to rail rather than bus it. 1 mile is about the longest I'd go unless the weather is bad.

Melissa / May 4, 2011 12:06 PM

I walk 2.5 miles to and from work every day, it's more about time than anything else... I even started walking into the loop from work when I have a play because the walk takes 20-30 minutes to walk the 2 miles and the bus tracker times it at 35 minutes for the same trip.

Dennis Fritz / May 18, 2011 9:14 AM

I think people would walk a surprisingly long way of they knew their public transit system was reliable, affordable, and fast. Let's not forget, driving has it's own hassles. The only thing people complain more about than the CTA is parking.

kanetaylor / August 23, 2011 3:39 AM

Actually, if individuals increasingly more can expand their lives, then the govt may even think the advantageous have an impact on because of it. 5S

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