You know who they are. You see them coming down the street and you cross to the other side. You pick up your gait to get away. But somehow you’re always ensnared, as they surround you four-abreast, guidebooks open and maps flailing in the wind, and ask you ever so politely that dreaded question, “Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to Navy Pier?”
Most Chicagoans have a love-hate relationship with them. Well, ok, mostly hate. We civilization-dwellers are just trying to go about our daily lives to get to work, to get to school, to get out to lunch and back on a busy workday–and all on time if we can help it–when here they come. Suburbasauruses. Lumbering, ungainly, wide-eyed, polyester-covered, and…slooooooooooow.
Now anyone who’s ever tried to make it up State Street at Noon on a workday knows that I do not mean molasses slow. Or tortoise slow. Or even Heinz ketchup slow. We’re talking glacier inching down the mountain over millions of years slow. A geological pace where only time-lapse photography can detect any significant movement. But if you think the slow Suburbasauran shuffle-step is annoying when you come downtown only to work or shop, imagine what it’s like for those of us who live and work down here 24/7. When your life revolves around State Street, these ponderous beasts have an even more hopelessness-inducing impact with each step by maddeningly slow step.
Don’t get me wrong. Chicago is a wonderful city that everyone should have the opportunity to come and marvel at. And, frankly, we need the sales-tax dollars (which Suburbasauruses drop in droves). But hear me out on this. I gave this a lot of thought when I used to work in Times Square and it would work here, I tell you, I do. Two lanes of pedestrian traffic on each and every downtown sidewalk. One for we civilized native-folk who have places to go and things to do; and one for the myriad masses of out-of-town gosh-honey look-at-all-the-tall-buildings Suburbasauran families. Attractive thought, right? You get where you’re going, they get where they’re going (eventually), and nobody has to get hurt.
We could even establish Suburbasauran moving violations. No walking into the fast lane waving a map. No walking four-abreast. No walking without, ahem, watching where you’re going. Priority passing for civilized natives. And no asking where Navy Pier is. Ever. Or, God forbid, Union Station. (I mean, how often have you seen Suburbasauruses not waving around a map?)
For those of you who wish to cling to the animal fulfillment of pushing, foot-stepping, and bodychecking Suburbasauruses out of your way, your mileage may vary. But, come on everyone else. If we write Mayor Daley en masse, he’ll have to see the logic, bow to the popular movement. I mean, he’ll live on Randolph Street soon, right? A world free from Suburbasauran sidewalk delays. We have the power to achieve the vision if we start right now. A journey of a thousand steps takes a lot less time when you don’t have to stop to fling Rockford Ralph out of the way. Who’s with me?