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State Stix

Cars R Us

Who had the most car art featured in Car and Driver's January 1991 photo essay?

Berwyn and Saudi Arabia.

Source: Frank Lloyd Wrong, "Carchitectural Wonders," Car and Driver, January 1991.

What is car art?

A larger-than-life gorilla lofts a yellow Volkswagon Beetle as though it were an Olympic torch (Vermont, Route 7).

Four giant-sized human legs support a compact sedan a Trabant (Old Town Square in Prague, Czechoslovakia).

A Yugo plunges into the roof of a barn (Littleton, Colo.).

And in Saudi Arabia several red, orange, blue and green sedans are permanently caught in the act of emerging from a large concrete cube. That's at the Leisure Beach Area of the Corniche in Jidda. In Al Khobar there is a Mercedes parts dealership that you enter through the front grille.

Source: Same as above.

What's in Berwyn?

A yellow Pinto, split into four symetrical parts, graces the outside wall of an optometrist's office in Cermak Plaza.

A "car kebob" sports eight automobiles stacked on a pole, beginning with a full-sized four-door and topped off with a VW Beetle. A plaque reads "Is this an object of veneration? If so, should it be?"

Both were done by artist Dustin Shuler of Englewood, Calif.

Source: Same as above.

The future is Chevy vans

Number of automobiles in the world: 400 million as of 1990.

Number of people in the world: 5.333 billion as of 1990.

People per automobile: 13.3

At current rates, a net total of 19 million cars and 96 million people is added each year.

Source: State of the World 1991: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society, Worldwatch, 1990. 1991 World Almanac.

Prairie State ramblers

Approximately 7.9 million vehicles were registered in Illinois in 1988. There were 6.3 million cars and 1.6 million trucks and other vehicles.

Between 1973 and 1981 vehicle registrations increased 27.6 percent; from 1981 to 1988 they rose only 4.1 percent.

Source: Illinois Transportation System Facts: 1990 Edition, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

We get around

In 1989 Illinois motorists logged an astonishing 81.576 billion vehicle miles on the state's road system roughly equivalent to 19 round trips from the sun to the planet Pluto or to one mile of highway with 81.576 billion cars on it, all headed for Northbrook.

We did this on 5.434 billion gallons of gas. At the current low price of $1.09 per gallon for standard unleaded it cost $5.923 billion.

We also saved fuel. In 1989 Illinois vehicles averaged 15.01 miles to the gallon that includes V-8's and motor homes. This was better than 1988's 14.66 mpg and far better than 1978 when we used more gas to achieve a mediocre 66 billion vehicle miles.

Source for vehicle statistics: Same as above and Todd Hill, Planning and Research, IDOT.

Rush hours from hell

Duration of


rush-hour traffic


12 hours

Rio de Janeiro

14 hours

Source: State of the World 1991.

Chicago: six hours

According to the Chicago Transit Authority, the mass transit rush hour lasts from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m. For automobile traffic it's from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. The traffic is heaviest in northwestern Cook County and in DuPage County and is mostly "nontraditional commutes" from the city to jobs in the suburbs or from suburb to suburb.

In northeastern Illinois some 200 public and private transportation agencies are trying to work together to solve traffic problems.

Source: Karen Boykin, WBBM News Radio.

St. Louis: four-and-a-half

In the St. Louis metro area, rush hour lasts from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. depending, of course, on the weather and accidents.

The worst areas are the bottleneck on the Poplar Street Bridge and the commute between St. Charles and St. Louis where traffic has been expanding faster than the roads for a decade.

People use their mobile phones to call the radio station when they are caught in traffic. They are angry, and the anger has been rising in the last two or three years.

Source: Kathe Harley, KMOX Radio.

Estimated costs of U.S. gridlock
(hours, gallons and dollars in billions)



Total delay

   (vehicle hours)



Wasted fuel (gallons)



User cost



Source: Traffic Congestion: Trends, Measures and Effects, U.S. General Accounting Office, 1989.

I love my R5 Turbo

"Remember Renault's weird and wonderful' R5 Turbo, the little rally rat that carried a lusty powerplant where the back seat used to be? Mid-engined, box-fendered, fast and twitchy, the R5 Turbo was officially a homologation special for rally competition. History will probably record it as the first econobox on steroids."

Source: "Special Editions Shogun," Car and Driver.

General funds

The general funds end-of-month balance in February was $75.601 million; the average daily available balance was $146.437 million.

Source: Office of the Comptroller.

Bucking the trend

In February the nation's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, the highest in four years. In Illinois it fell to 5.9 percent, down from 6.8 percent in January. Monthly jobless rates vary, but it does appear that Illinois may not be as hard hit by the recession as states that relied on defense, high tech and building booms.

Job losses in manufacturing and services were offset by gains in education and tax preparation, February's record work force consisted of 6.086 million people; 5.729 million had jobs and 357,000 were looking for work.

Final unemployment rates in December for the state's metro areas were:

Aurora-Elgin, 5.9 percent.
Bloomington-Normal, 4.2 percent.
Champaign-Urbana-Rantoul, 4.2 percent
Chicago, 5.6 percent.
Davenport-Rock Island-Moline (Illinois sector), 7.3 percent.
Decatur, 6.3 percent.
Joliet, 6.3 percent.
Kankakee, 6.9 percent.
Lake County, 4.1 percent.
Peoria, 5.4 percent.
Rockford, 6.0 percent.
Springfield, 4.5 percent.
St. Louis (Illinois sector), 5.9 percent.

Source: Department of Employment Security.

Margaret S. Knoepfle

10/April 1991/Illinois Issues

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