Attempting to be car-free in Washington, D.C.

I would love to leave my gleaming Cadillac nestled in its garage spot all week. An intra-DC commute should be easier than when I lived in Alexandria, now living only steps from the Metro in NW D.C. However, the 100% manual operation of the WMATA subway since June 22, 2009 has made commuting torturous. I used to read WaPo or WSJ (in paper form) in peace, but seats are nowhere to be found now, with the crush from Bethesda and points north coming in. The yanking around of sudden acceleration had lead to my clothes being soiled on multiple occasions on the subway from spills and dirt from other passengers, leading me to change clothes at the office.

Then a friend tipped me off to using Rock Creek Parkway, which is shifted unidirectionally at rush hour, in an almost free-for-all speeders’ delight. This makes my commute 80% shorter in time, and the Michelin tires are up to the curvy high-speed Parkway demands. I thought I would only use the car socially, but now I see the ROI is much higher in terms of daily saved time. Now, I can come home, freshen up, even have a light snack before going out again to a 7PM event. Thanks National Park Service!

Even though my dream of car-free D.C. during the week was overturned, this is still ecstatically the best move of my life. I have tried a couple locations in Alexandria and Rosslyn commuting into D.C., which also were big time sinks despite being right at the D.C. line. The bridge traffic is just too heavy for quick commutes, even at 10:00AM. I saw my neighbors using taxis and car services every day, maybe I could have gotten a deal too from VA to D.C., but I doubted that would cost less than $25/day with discounts. So I listen to podcasts via car Bluetooth or listen to XM radio and steer the wheel, watching the city skyline go past, ready to hop out to the suburbs after work without worrying about finding my way back in the evening.

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