Don’t you ever wish you could just teleport from one place to another? You know, skip the entire traveling process. Leave behind all the traffic and congestion. Forget about interacting with strangers in subways and bus stops. Relinquish the fear of accidents and crashes. I get it. I feel this way often. But what I realized throughout reporting on transportation: sometimes you have to just enjoy the ride.
If you don’t look up once in a while, you just might miss it.
I’ve been utterly inspired by the people I’ve met throughout this journey. The people of Bike Walk Lincoln Park are just neighborhood members who give their time outside of their work day to make their neighborhood a safer place for bikers, pedestrians and motorists alike. My experts at UIC and DePaul spend their entire careers trying to piece together the puzzle of how to make transportation work better, so it could feel a little more like teleportation. What I’ve realized most is that the business of transportation is a lot about communication, community and selflessness. The people that care about transportation are the people that care about their community and care to make their community a better place for the next generation.
“Transportation is a very intimate thing,” my brother-in-law told me. “And you don’t always realize it until you move into a city and you depend on it.” Living in Chicago, I initially had complaints about how long it took to wait for an “el” train. I hated how loud it was, and I missed the NYC subway trains. But once I stopped comparing the two, I realized the beauty of the “el” — the way you can see the city from above, the way the community gets together on the holiday train, the way you can see each neighborhood change across borders. Especially post-Hurricane Sandy, with the New York systems halted, I began to appreciate what it takes to put together a train system, and more so, what it takes for a city to integrate that system. To make it efficient. To make it resilient in the face of physical and economic turmoil.
If you’re smart — you’ll realize that it’s not always about where you’re going as much as it is about how you’ll get there. I’ve learned the most about Chicago from traveling through it from the cab drivers, from the transportation experts, and through the faces I’ve encountered in transit. These faces say many things and reveal the deep history of Chicago. So if you don’t look up once in a while, you just might miss it.