Yeah, most of why I like road bikes is down to how they feel to ride, but I definitely also prefer to spend my cycling time actually riding, not in a car or on the train on my way to a bike ride.
If I were living somewhere like Chicago again, I’d probably suck it up, do a couple of short rides on the LFT during the week, and plan a longer weekend ride starting from the end of a train line. When I lived in the East Bay, I’d go out to Diablo via BART, because riding through Orinda/Lafayette/Walnut Creek is total nonsense.
I’m assuming at this point that the bike industry is going to keep trending towards ever more categories of bike, I’m interested in seeing whether something like a “classic stage racing bike” starts getting a sales push once the gravel boom plateaus. Traditional road bike / cycling is rarely the first thing people get into, mountain bikes and fixed gears have been the more superficially exciting entrees to bike riding over the last few decades.