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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Talking Chicago illustrates the driving dilemma

    Chicago illustrates the driving dilemma

    By David Booth, For Canwest News Service November 20, 2009 2:08 AM

    The worst traffic in the world is not in Tokyo. Nor is it in New York or even Los Angeles. No, if you really want to understand the concept of gridlock, visit Chicago on marathon weekend.

    Traffic along the prime Michigan Avenue artery is not so much stop-and-go as merely stopped. And even at 6:30 in the morning, route 90/94 leaving downtown makes southern Ontario's Hwy. 401 look like a country road at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday.

    What I am saying here is that I had a lot of time to contemplate my fellow commuters. What will come as no surprise is that the vast majority of the cars all but stalled on Chicago's motoring arteries carried only the driver. Despite my seeming total devotion to all things automotive, it was not lost on an internal-combustion apologist such as me that this, like most motoring in North America, is a model of waste.

    The average car in North America weighs in at a tad less than 2,000 kg. The average human being, even in these Supersize-Me days of burgeoning obesity, weighs less than 100 kg. It doesn't take a degree in advanced calculus to realize that there is an inherent inefficiency in this vehicle-to-occupant weight ratio.

    Were the preceding uttered by David Suzuki or any other master of the 15-second environmental-impact soundbite, their acolytes would bow their heads in awe at the incredible obviousness of their prophet's profundity and wonder why the rest of the world "just doesn't get it."

    Indeed, if people would just commit to only ever driving solo, on paved roads, with minimal cargo, and promise to never, ever, crash into one another, automakers could produce only tiny little commuter cars smaller than a Smart Fortwo that averaged four litres per 100 kilometres and emitted so little pollution the entire hybrid/hydrogen/electric car debate would be moot.

    If only the world could be so simple.

    The first problem is that while most motoring is, unfortunately, conducted solo, virtually every car owner will eventually want to transport a friend/enemy/mother-in-law somewhere.

    Take the small matter of the golfing foursome out for a weekend best-ball tournament at a golf course out in the country. They, of course, have to transport their shoes and hats and tee-time attire, not to mention their big bags stuffed with more than the regulation 14 clubs. As soon as they opened the trunk, they'd forget the Smart car and start thinking about a Toyota Camry.

    But the boys want to be coddled in the lap of luxury befitting their exalted status. They want even more room for their arthritic knees than is strictly necessary and, while you're at it, can you throw in a decent audio system and a seven-inch LCD screen in the back of each of the rear seats "because our attention span isn't what it used to be." Now we're in a Lexus LS 460.

    But, the boys are in a hurry. Let's say the golf course has strict policy regarding tee times. So, they need enough juice to sprint past seriously geriatric motorhomes and speed-limited 18-wheelers. So, maybe we should trade up to a BMW 750i and its twin-turbo'd 400 h.p.

    But a weekend of rain has turned the road into a slippery nightmare. We need something with serious off-road ability that grips the road as tightly as a frustrated golfer does his clubs, and has room for our overstuffed Louis Vuitton golf bags (just $9,750 US base price!), roomy seats and enough power to literally fly to the course and back. And we want it all in one hedonistic package that rides comfortably as well.

    Add it all up and you know what you've got?

    A Cadillac Escalade. It weighs in at 2,695 kg.

    Getting Stuck in Traffic on Route 90 to Chicago's O'Hare Airport Is What It Does on Its Off Days.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


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    Ah, Chicago traffic. Been there done that.

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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fire1977 View Post
    Ah, Chicago traffic. Been there done that.
    Ya me too. Just once. Unless I have specific business to attend in the city, I will look for alternate routes around the I80/94 toll road.
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