A common joke among Chicago residents is that there are only 2 seasons – construction and winter. This just adds to the nightmare traffic around the city. Chicago is home to 5 of the top 20 most congested roads in the US and is ranked 8th worst overall compared to other urban cities. (Ranking of most traffic are: Washington, D.C. in the number 1 spot, followed by Los Angeles; San Francisco; New York; San Jose, Calif.; Boston; Seattle; Chicago; Houston; and Dallas. ) As expected rush hour is the worst, but add rain, snow, or construction and no matter what – traffic is a mess. I am asked, “What’s a good time to drive through the city?” I wish I knew. I travel a lot and often take a taxi to go to O’hare Airport at many different times of the day. It can take me 20 minutes or over an hour to travel the 16 mile route. I always plan for the worst and am delighted when my trip is fast. So when planning your errands in a big city, miles mean nothing – a 2 mile trip can take 30 minutes if the traffic is bad, but certain times during the day can increase your odds of a faster trip.
My tips for driving in the city, during the week, wait until after 7:30 pm and then go out shopping. A good thing is many stores in the city are open later compared to the suburbs. I have found that even though NYC is known as the a town that never sleeps – neither does Chicago. (Just check out any street with a lot of bars on Friday night – people are everywhere!). This means on the weekends, get up and get home before 11:00 am and you miss all the Millennials who make Chicago their home.
And last…the very best way to get around Chicago is public transportation. For any move to a big city make sure you can walk to a transit line. You will be grateful you did.