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The Chicago Drivers Guide to Rideshare Street Smarts: Quirky Roads/ Wacker Drive

Updated on November 8, 2019
justthemessenger profile image

I drive people to their destinations as I drive towards my destiny.

Wacker Drive north/south branch
Wacker Drive north/south branch | Source

Wacky Wacker

Wacker Drive is a street of contrast. Traffic can move north/south on one wing of the street and east/west on the other. Wacker is only about two miles long. Yet, it crosses with at least 15 other streets and is within a block of 18 bridges that span the Chicago River.

Wacker with all its connections rest entirely within the Loop. Whereas some thoroughfares have a frontage road, it has a frontage walk; Riverside Plaza. And, most notably, it’s a multi-level roadway.

River Road

Wacker Drive travels in all four directions as it follows the Chicago River’s course around the Loop. The river route enables it to intersect with both north/south flowing and east/west streaming streets. The Wacker/river nexus makes it among the best streets for traveling to city center locations.

Wacker’s north/south section leads to uber busy transit depots Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center. I have also taken it en route to the passenger prodigious Presidential Towers complex. The Willis Tower leads a double digit dose contingent of high rider pickup points drop off destinations along Wacker’s north/south bank.

Wacker’s east/west bank host the London House and at least five other fairly frequented high rider housing (apt/condo/hotel) buildings. The same stretch has led me to a glut of voracious volume visited places that are near but not on Wacker Drive that include River North’s Merchandise Mart and Streeterville’s Mag Mile.

Wacker Drive east/west branch
Wacker Drive east/west branch | Source

Rider Street Smarts Tip

“All aboard”

Remember, shared rides are rideshares’ version of the bus. Via’s default option and Uber Pool work this way. The clock literally starts when the driver arrives at the pickup spot. Both driver apps actually have a visual of a ticking clock! The driver is free to leave without you when the clock runs out. So, if you’re still on the elevator in the skyscraper that you work in as the driver arrives, you may miss out and still pay something. Be there on time. Happy riding!

Highlight on the Hood- The New East Side

Source

Wacker Drive’s east/west tract between Michigan Ave and Lake Shore Drive forms the north border to the neighborhood within the Loop community, the New East Side. Michigan Ave, Lake Shore Drive, and Randolph Street are its west, east and south borders respectively.

Big rideshare revenue gifts come from small rideshare regional packages. The Loop’s east side doesn’t extend more than four city blocks in any direction. Yet, it rains down ripe rider business.

The trendy but tiny area contain 10 residential buildings (apt/condo/hotel) that has provided me with multiple trips. Three among these are Wacker Drive addresses. The ‘east’ also host tall buildings that draw tall traffic. The Prudential Building, Aon and Blue Cross/Blue Shield are the busiest among these.

The upper echelon enclave consist of multi-level streets, ramps, twist and turns that enable it to provide so much in so little space. I was already familiar with the area before my rideshare gig. So this didn't pose a problem. I would advise drivers who haven’t been here to do a dry run. This is a unique place with distinct dimensions. But, it’s well worth learning for what it has to offer.

Quirk Street Cred

View of Streeterville from Lower Wacker
View of Streeterville from Lower Wacker | Source

Lower Level-Higher Speed

I became acquainted with sub street level Chicago in a previous driving life. The city’s main auto pound lies beneath the New East Side’s trendy exterior. I know because city contracted vandals hijacked my sadiemobile twice. That’s too much headache for a side job.

I soon learned the lower drive provided safe havens for delivery cars in the form of building docks. The docks became my preferred choice to park whenever possible. The same docks enable efficient movement of goods to Wacker’s varied sites by relieving the upper level of congestion. As a result, Lower Wacker helps to speed up Upper Wacker traffic flow.

Lower Wacker Drive is not immune to traffic jams. Still, it typically allows drivers to move faster than the Loop streets above it. Moreover, it provides access to the Eisenhower I-290, Kennedy I-90, Lake Shore Drive (Rt.41) and other express routes.

I have taken advantage of this quirk’s perks. I’ve often bypassed evening rush hour Loop traffic. This includes trips taking riders to Lake Shore Drive en route to north side areas, south side destinations, the United Center and more. The Union Station transit depot is the high rider destination the lower drive has helped lead me to the most.

DuSable Bridge in background
DuSable Bridge in background | Source

Low Level-High Preparation

Quirky can be good. However, not all quirks are created equal. The same subterranean vibe that allows short cut and speedy access interferes with cell phone performance.

The map apps are inapt when traveling the lower depths of Chicago Streets. For example, the app has at times directed me to turn onto State Street (among others) while on Lower Wacker drive. However, State Street doesn’t have a lower level. So how would I turn on to it? I don’t. I can’t.

Practice makes perfect. I suggest drivers take a dry run (or two or a dozen) before you carry passengers here. Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Ave and Columbus Drive also have sub main street levels that drivers should learn. I can’t repeat it enough: the app is not your friend when driving the lower ends.

Wacker is a unique street that uniquely contributes to driving within the city. It does this for all drivers but is especially valuable to rideshare drivers who dare tread into the city’s center. It is eccentric and quirky good.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 James C Moore

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    • justthemessenger profile imageAUTHOR

      James C Moore 

      3 months ago from The Great Midwest

      Yes, the traffic can be that bad. I took the bus the last times I flew out of Midway and O'Hare airports. Like your son, I'm less than an hour from Chicago. If you visit rideshare is an option.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      3 months ago from Fresno CA

      I know very little about Chicago but this seems like really important information if I wanted to navigate on my own. My son lives 30 minutes from Chicago but tells me that it is worth the hour and half drive to take a plane from South Bend instead of Chicago because of the traffic. Is it really that bad?

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • justthemessenger profile imageAUTHOR

      James C Moore 

      6 months ago from The Great Midwest

      Billybuc

      Yes, it's a picturesque city. I've taken some of these photos without a "driver street smarts" hub in mind just for the picture and later incorporate these into my hubs. But like you say, the driving here isn't so pretty.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's a pretty city to look at in pictures, but all that traffic!!!!!! I would be locked up for my own protection after a week of driving around Chicago. lol

    • justthemessenger profile imageAUTHOR

      James C Moore 

      7 months ago from The Great Midwest

      FlourishAnyway,

      Overall, the city of Chicago is fairly straightforward driving as cities go. But, I refer to this street as "wacky Wacker" for a reason. It takes some getting used to. Thanks for visiting my humble hub page.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

      I’d be clenching that steering wheel and my blood pressure would be through the roof trying to figure out where to go. My hat is off to you for driving every day in this type of traffic.

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