READ. de C. has made progress in reducing car use. So why is he building a giant garage? – Streetblog Chicago
There are so many opportunities for universities to be a force for good in the world and in their communities. On the other hand, there is a lot of potential for universities to harm the areas in which they are located. The University of Chicago, primarily located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, recently opened a massive parking structure at 61st Street and Kimbark Avenue at the Woodlawn community, just south of Hyde Park. The four-storey garage will accommodate more than 320 vehicles. For a higher education institution supposedly committed to environmental sustainability, this decision to encourage automobile use is baffling.
When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in the Kenwood neighborhood north of Hyde Park. I often found traveling by bus within the community and to surrounding areas frustrating. When the Divvy bike-sharing system was introduced, I could have used the blue bikes to and from the grocery store, but I didn’t feel comfortable using a bike for transportation to and from. era. There were many times I jumped in my car for trips under two miles, and a few times I was on a bus full of people sitting in traffic along Hyde Park Boulevard.
What I mean is that despite all of Hyde Park’s resources, residents and visitors should still plan their trips carefully around public transport schedules. New upscale developments in the neighborhood, many near Metra Electric District stations, have included plenty of parking lots, which encourages new residents to bring cars to the neighborhood, which means more traffic and a less efficient bus service.
I have puzzled for a number of years as to why the University of Chicago does not use its influence more often to advocate for transit improvements in Hyde Park. The school’s sustainability plan aims to reduce transportation-related emissions and develop recommendations for sustainable transportation on campus. I hope the university will advocate for bus lanes and more transit services in the area, which can help transport their students, faculty, and staff to and from campus more efficiently. Protected cycle lanes and traffic calming measures should also be installed throughout Hyde Park to encourage more cycle transport.
The university could even fund some transit-oriented developments, with a generous number of affordable units to help prevent housing displacement as the neighborhood gentrifies. It’s a growing concern now that work has begun on the Obama Presidential Center.
I will give the U. de C. some credit for reduced automobile use between 2004 and 2014. In its sustainable development report, the university cites a reduction in automobile use by students, faculty and staff. Bus use by students increased from 11% to 37% and bus use by faculty and staff increased from 2% to 17%. The percentage of students walking to campus increased from 18% to 28%. The use of a private car to get to campus fell from 52% to 10% among students and from 63% to 38% among faculty and staff.
The university attributes the reduction in automobile use to a down payment assistance program that has helped faculty and staff buy homes closer to campus. free transportation on CTA bus lines 171 and 172; a bike share program with Blackstone bikes from 2010 to 2015; university shuttle service; and the Divvy system. I would like to know more about the thought process that led the university to build another parking lot at a time when we should drastically reduce automobile use. Hopefully, the university’s future transportation sustainability plan and its implementation will do even more to reduce automobile use in its immediate community and the South Side in general.