Krause is tired of going Nuts on Clark waiting for for the slow-moving #22 bus.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]
Acid jazz pulsed on the sound system as a group of stylishly dressed transit fans clinked wine glasses last week at Vapiano, a sleek Italian restaurant at 2577 North Clark Street in Lincoln Park. They were there to launch the Chicago Streetcar Renaissance, a campaign to create a world-class streetcar line on Clark from the Loop to Wrigley Field, and eventually add lines in other parts of the city.
“Our mission is to grow the economy and the population of Chicago every year while reducing traffic congestion and making the city easier to get around,” says John Krause, 45, the architect who founded the movement, nattily attired in jeans and a dove-gray sports jacket. “That means every year there will be more people and fewer cars, more commerce and less congestion.”
He has a vision of the clogged traffic and the notoriously sluggish buses on Clark replaced by efficient, comfortable streetcars, more pedestrian traffic, on-street cafés and broad bike lanes. “The only way you can get rid of cars is to replace them with something better,” he explains. “In a car paradigm everybody assumes the city is going to grow more and more congested. But a public transit system is the opposite. The more people who use public transit, the better it gets.”