Avoiding time spent stuck in the car isn't easy if you’re commuting in Chicago. A recent study released by Texas A&M Transportation Institute found Chicagoans were spending an average of 73 hours per year in traffic jams, placing Chicago third among major US metro areas for the amount of time its residents spend in gridlock.
Chicago commuters once turned their radio dials into one of the frequent drive time updates from local radio stations. These reports always contain a thicket of local lingo, especially when it comes to the localized nicknames for expressways and major roads, and deciphering the broadcaster’s rapid-fire assessment of the roads took a sharp ear and good understanding of the city’s geography. Now, these reports are circumvented as many commuters turn to a smartphone app to help them navigate the roads and discover the quickest route from A to B.
The bottom line for apartment renters who want to try their level best to spend less time in traffic: live somewhere that allows you to either a) walk to work or b) ditch the car entirely and rely on the city’s public transportation network to get to work. Those aren’t always feasible options, though. The next measure is considering where in the city or suburbs that most car trips will begin and end.
Chicago has a major thoroughfare that drives like it’s a highway but looks like it’s in the middle of a scenic park. That’s the famous Lake Shore Drive, where commuters can at least stare out their car windows at the placid and peaceful scenery of Lake Michigan while they wait for traffic to inch along. This is a major highway -- eight lanes wide at some points -- that has a maximum speed limit of 40 mph...but many motorists on Lake Shore Drive tend to view that as more of a suggestion than the rule. As a word of caution to speed demons flying up and down Lake Shore: the cops like to park on the grassy median between the north- and southbound lanes, so drivers who treat this road like it’s NASCAR will likely end up paying for their speedy tendencies.
Apartments that boast about Lake Michigan views in the listing are usually located somewhere near Lake Shore Drive, and this highway actually has a decent number of high-rise apartment buildings built right up against it. The side closer to Lake Michigan is pure public park space, populated with beaches, dog parks, golf courses and more natural recreational spaces for Chicago renters to explore.
For apartment renters who frequently drive towards O’Hare Airport or beyond, living off the Kennedy (I-90) Expressway is the way to go. Apartments in Jefferson Park, Irving Park, Old Irving Park, Avondale, Logan Square, Bucktown, Wicker Park and Portage Park are usually a short distance from the Kennedy Expressway.
Renters who need to make the back-and-forth commute to downtown Chicago, or the Loop as it’s usually known, will want to pay close attention to apartments in neighborhoods along the Dan Ryan (I-94) Expressway, and the Kennedy eventually merges with this primary north/south highway in the city. Neighborhoods like Pullman, Chatham, Washington Park and Bronzeville hug the southern expanse of the Dan Ryan Expressway. On the far northwest side of the city, renters in Albany Park, Sauganash, Edgebrook and the Village of Skokie will have easy access to the northern stretch of I-94, which turns into the Edens Expressway as commuters move farther north into the suburbs.