How do you do it? Drive I mean

Really, how can you? I drove to Charlottesville this weekend for a triathlon, and it took me two hours just to get to Fredericksburg on I-95. It would’ve taken me two more hours had I not jumped into the HOV lane. Coming back, I went to Korea Town in Annandale for tasty treats but almost rammed a freak that took 20 minutes to park.

Thank goodness that I don’t have a car (rented this one) and don’t usually drive anywhere. If I had to deal with all those red taillights on a daily basis or the whole parking thing – damn, just shoot me! How can you stay trapped at the speed of the guy in front of you? How can you have the patience for red lights or 35 mph zones?

Give me bike or foot, bus or metro even, just not gridlock. No red lights on a bike, no waiting when walking, no worries at all on the bus – this is freedom, not a car. I can’t wait to return this albatross and give that entire suburbia back to the fools across the river.

Long live car-free DC!

18 Comments so far

  1. Evil (unregistered) on June 19th, 2005 @ 10:24 pm

    Hell yeah, LONG LIVE CAR FREE DC

  2. Tiff (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 8:39 am

    If I thought Metro were any better… hell, if I lived anywhere near a Metro station, I might not tolerate it.

    But as it is, I’d have to take Metrobus to the Pentagon, and then take two trains in to get to the office. But my company pays for my parking lease, so most days it’s actually faster and cheaper for me to drive rather than taking Metro. Gas costs me less than half of what Metro would cost me, and 9 days out of 10 I get to work faster in my car, even with going straight up 395 into downtown. And since Tom rides with me, he gets a free and fast ride into work.

    Also, because of the nature of my job, I have to have my car available for client visits. Perhaps someday Metro will actually be a comprehensive, efficient system, but until then… give me my Beetle for commuting and my iPod for soothing the road rage on those bad traffic days.

  3. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 10:04 am

    Even when it takes longer by Metro, I do anything to avoid driving around here. I’ll even occasionally walk to the grocery store.

  4. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 10:07 am

    I grew up in the West, as I’m finding myself saying more and more often, where cars were, de facto, the way to get from city to city. Sure, I could use my bike inside town, but beyond those borders, it was just too far.

    Here in DC, I find myself seeing a culture of hatred of the cyclist, simply because of the insidious subspecies of human known as the bike messenger. I wouldn’t want to bike in this town, ever, really. I’ll bike my way through parts of arlington, but damned if I’ll take my bike into the city.

    Also, next time you’re considering heading south, consider alternate routes other than 95. 95 on the weekends is a recipe for a stroke. Grab Route 1 or 315, or something else, you’ll thank me later.

  5. wayan (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 10:07 am

    Ah… I see the problems there:

    a) inaccurate comparisons between car and car-free. Don’t just look at gas, but also look at the total cost of owning your car, from car loan, to insurance, to maintenance. Now once you get that total cost, divide it by the number of hours spent commuting to/from work. Or you can use this handy commuter calculator. Metro, especially since you company should cover its cost (up to $120/month!) if it offers parking reimbursement, looks free/cheap by comparison, eh?

    b) choose a job that does not require a car. You might scoff at first, but there are plenty of very high-paying and/or highly rewarding jobs in DC that don’t require cars for client visits. Or you can rent cars for that, Flexcar & Zipcar are great options.

    c) choose a residence that doesn’t require a car. Now don’t even start with housing prices, you can afford what you need in the city, its that 3 bedroom + den want that has you in the burbs. If I, on a nonprofit salary, can live nicely here and even save money, you can afford DC living too.

    Yes, changing your life to be car-free might sound crazy but its worth it. Road rage – never have it. Time and money – have plenty of that.

  6. wayan (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 10:23 am

    “the insidious subspecies of human known as the bike messenger”

    Ouch! They be my heroes, I tell ya, as I bike everywhere here and only wish I could slice through K Street traffic with such ease. Now if drivers realized they were at the bottom of the ‘right of way’ list, behind even three-legged dogs, then you could ride your bike in DC without fear.

    Me, I just zip by cars faster than they can react, peaceful with my superior speed and reaction times, dreaming of this year’s WABA Bike DC.

  7. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 12:01 pm

    Yeah, having nearly been hit by a bike messenger both in my car and on a walk through downtown, I really do consider them to be a bunch of asshats. Traffic laws still apply to them, but they get away with a lot more than any car would.

  8. Derek (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 12:28 pm

    Some NoVA driving tips:

    Avoid I-95 like the plague. The big problem is there are only 3 ways to cross the Occoquan river – via I-95 (yuck!), US 1 (yucker!) and Yates Ford Road (hmmmm…). When I drive down to Fredericksburg, I usually either take:

    A.) If I’m out west (in Reston) I’ll take I-66 to the second exit for Hwy 29. I take that down to US 17. It’s sometimes as quick as 1.5 hours, but sometimes can be 2 hours.

    B.) If I’m in Fairfax City, I either take 123 (Chain Bridge/Ox Road) down to Occoquan and get on I-95, or I’ll take 123 to some backroads on to Yates Ford Road over the upper Occoquan bridge. I then take the Prince William Parkway to Dumfries Rd, then to Joplin rd – a nice, stoplight-free, winding, tree-lined road that goes between Pr. William Forest park and Quantico – it spits you out just north of the Quantico exit on I-95. If I-95 is still bad at that point, I head down US 1. If I-95 is packed still from Quantico to Fred, instead of going on Joplin Rd, I’ll take 646 (Alban Rd.) out to 28, which takes me to 17. This method usually takes 1.5 hours if there is lighter traffic from the HOV merge to Fred.

    C.) If I’m in Annandale or Springfield, (and this would work for any points north on 95), I’ll decide right in the mixing bowl whether I’ll stay on 95 or take the Franconia Rd. exit onto Backlick Rd. – it lines 95 all the way to the Fairfax Cty. Pkwy. exit. There is also another chance after the Franconia Rd. exit to get on Backlick and bypass all the trucks and HOV squatters. This method is usally 1hr-1.5hrs, assuming there’s no backup before the HOV merge. Then it’s at least 1.5hrs.

    Pretty much, if you don’t bail out on I-95 after the interchange, you’re screwed. My dad lives in Fredericksburg and works downtown. He used to take a van pool and it would take 50mins-1hr to get to work with usually pretty smooth traffic. In the afternoon, however, it could take 50mins on a good day, but in the summer it’s usually 1-1.5hrs, even with the HOV lanes. It’s a mess, but houses are cheap(er) down in Fred.

    If you’re going to Charlottesville, I’d highly recommend taking I-66 to Hwy. 29. It’s actually probably faster than going through Fredericksburg or Richmond. Taking Hwy 3 out of Fred is a terrible idea, BTW. Anyway, taking 29, it’s about 2.5 hours to Charlottesville.

  9. Tiff (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 4:01 pm

    It is my personal pet peeve that people on bikes don’t think they have to follow the same traffic laws that cars do…

    I am not interested in changing jobs. I am not interested in living within the borders of DC and paying exorbitant taxes. Nor do I particularly want three bedrooms plus a den, and that’s a rather presumptuous thing to assume, isn’t it? I want one bedroom in a neighborhood where I won’t get mugged regularly (as happens to my friends who live in those ‘affordable’ neighborhoods), which is what I have now. I *like* Arlington. I like having representation in Congress.

    My car costs me very little to own- my insurance costs PLUS maintenance PLUS gas STILL comes out to less than what I’d pay for Metro. I’m not counting the payment because that money would just get plowed into the rent I’d have to pay to live somewhere other than where I do if I didn’t have consistent access to a car.

    I am not interested in renting a Zipcar and driving a car that doesn’t belong to me whenever I have to visit a client in Bowie, or anytime I have to go to an industry event. I am also not interested in dealing with Metro crush, breakdowns, assholes who lean against the poles in the cars so that tiny people like me can’t find anything to hold onto. The air conditioning in my car always works. If I want to drink some water or a soda on my way to or from work, I can do that in my car without worrying about being arrested for it. There are no tourons in my car. If I want to stop at the grocery store on my way home, I can.

    The fact is, I like my lifestyle, and if I wanted to live differently, I wouldn’t have moved to DC in the first place. You’ve never had road rage? I assure you, any road rage I have is nothing compared to my Metro rage…

  10. wayan (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 4:19 pm

    Good to see I hit a nerve. At least now I know you’re awake & reading.

  11. Tiff (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 5:31 pm

    The only nerve was the one that hates holier-than-thou car-free types. If one can make a viable lifestyle out of it, great… but the legions of people driving into DC every day are pretty much evidence that there are tons of people who can’t.

  12. wayan (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 6:22 pm

    And my point, original and reply to your post, was it’s not that you can’t be car-free but that you don’t want to.

    If you want to, that’s fine. I sure don’t and so I structire my life so I don’t need to. And I still can’t fathom people who do.

  13. Lisa (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 8:28 pm

    Fair enough, but just because you can’t picture it doesn’t give you the right to impose your world-view, beliefs and car-free desires on anyone else. It’s right for you – that’s cool. Clearly from what you wrote you don’t belong behind the wheel of any car (I even wonder if you should be on a bike if you’re having thoughts of ramming people), so then don’t drive.

    Just don’t presume that your choices are right for everyone. That’s what some members of Congress are trying to do, and I despise them for that.

    And just because what you’re espousing is more liberal and non-traditional doesn’t give you the right to decide how/where others should work/live/drive.

    And you can’t possibly believe that Metro can take you everywhere a person could ever want to go – a quick look at the Metro map and timetables shows the limitations of that.

  14. wayan (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 11:24 pm

    “And you can’t possibly believe that Metro can take you everywhere a person could ever want to go – a quick look at the Metro map and timetables shows the limitations of that.”

    Now we’ve found something we can agree on – Metrorail cannot take you everywhere you want to go. It can take you from select suburban points into DC and Metrobus does a fair job of taking you around DC.

    Now coupled with a bike (allowed and accommodated on both) and/or decent walking shoes, you can get pretty much anywhere in DC. For those special trips, like to Charlottesville which started this post, its driving time.

    True, I could’ve taken Greyhound or Amtrak but even I have public transit limits.

  15. darpino (unregistered) on June 20th, 2005 @ 11:45 pm

    Well Wayan, at least now you know who you can always count on a ride from when you need it :)

  16. Desert Island Boy (unregistered) on June 21st, 2005 @ 12:03 pm

    What the hell were you doing taking 95 to Charlottesville? If you took 66 to 29 the trip would have taken no less than 2 1/2 hours.

    Driving to commute is a b*tch and then some. If you haven’t gotten used to it, it can be very frazzling in this town. But then again, living in this town can be frazzling period.

  17. Zippy_Honda (unregistered) on July 27th, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

    I think if Wayan asked, but since he is a man and didn’t, he would have been told that taking 66 to 29 would have been the better way to get to Charlottesville (more scenic) and less traffic/hassle. But for someone who doesn’t get beyond the scope of DC proper (hey Wayan, when’s the last time you went to PG County?), other than to see the far reaches of the earth, you can’t blame the guy for taking what looks like the most direct route from DC.

  18. wayan (unregistered) on July 27th, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

    PG County? You mean Papua New Guinea or the City of Prince George? Neither then. Nor Prince George County, MD come to think of it. It’s so… far.

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