Recap: The Chicago Eco-Transportation Show

We didn't just take note of last week's Chicago Eco-Transportation Show; we also joined in the celebration of personal transportation options powered by electricity, solar power, biofuels, human power, and, yes, gasoline (but relatively small amounts). Hosted by the Foresight Design Initiative, and piggybacked on the monthly Green Drinks event at Jefferson Tap & Grill in the West Loop, the show brought out a large crowd to view the many alternatives to the typical car on display. The vehicles owners were on hand to talk about their green machines, and organizations such as the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation passed out literature and discussed transit options available in the Windy City. Among the many vehicles on display:A battery-powered, peddle assisted Twike (shown above), which owner Margaret James can ride for about 40 miles on 25 cents worth of electricity. James' Twike is one of five currently in operation in the United States.

A 2005 Volkwagen Passat that owner Scott Schecter powers with biodiesel he makes in his garage (but, unfortunately, can no longer purchase in Chicago).

A 1992 Chevy pickup truck converted to electric power that owner Ted Lowe can drive for 50 miles on an electric charge of about $2.

The show also featured a variety of electric scooters, an electric ATV, a CNG-powered Crown Victoria, and a Sprinter Van. More pictures of the show's vehicles are available here.

At 7 pm, visitors moved into the bar's upstairs meeting room for a panel discussion titled "City Planning for More Sustainable Transportation." Foresight President Peter Nicholson facilitated an engaging conversation with Kit Hodge of Metropolitan Planning Council, Nick Jackson of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, and Jeffrey Sriver of the Chicago Transit Authority. The participants not only discussed the city's successes in greening transit options for Chicagoans, but also the political and financial challenges presented by needed upgrades to buses, trains and subways throughout the metropolitan area. The overflowing crowd came with plenty of questions, ranging from the option of using biodiesel in city buses, the extension of the "El" Red Line further into Chicago's South Side, and the sometimes fractious city politics that often set one area of town against another for transportation services. Planned for one hour, the discussion ran closer to two, with most of the crowd squeezing into standing room to listen to the panel members share their knowledge and thoughts.

If you missed this event, but would like to join Chicago residents in discussing and celebrating their city's efforts to become the greenest in the US, mark you calendars for Explorago, a sustainability-themed neo-scavenger hunt that will take place on September 30th, and the Sustainable Convergence party on October 4th at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.

Thanks to Foresight Design Initiative for inviting us to this uplifting event (And thanks to green furniture maker Pete Realmuto for the ride back to the hotel!). ::2006 Chicago Eco-Transportation Show