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Public Transportation Tue May 03 2011
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:
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?