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Old 10-03-06, 10:10 AM   #1
Tango6
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What are people thinking?

Last Friday I had the opportunity to use the Wash DC metro system to get from Andrews AFB to BWI. About a two hour trip, don't know how long in a car but the last leg was on a bus which went along the Baltimore-Washington parkway I think it was called. We were going away from the city and the traffic going into the city was at a virtual standstill, about 0830. The striking thing was that the vast majority, probably 90%, of the cars had one person in them. Why would you subject yourself to that? There is an excellent mass transit system, or you could carpool. If everyone went with one other person, traffic would be cut in half. Are we that selfish?

The worst part was that I had just come back from Italy where bicycles are a major form of transportation. I won't get into the size of the cars, but most of the ones sitting in traffic in Maryland were huge.
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Old 10-03-06, 10:20 AM   #2
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Thats why I don't think this country will survive if World War III errupts
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Old 10-03-06, 10:21 AM   #3
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I think the car in this country represents personal independence and freedom of movement. People don't want to be tied down to public transportation because then they have to think about schedules and being out amongst a lot of strangers. Even carpooling doesn't give you the ability to come and go as you please. Bikes are perceived as slow and mostly for recreation, not to mention scary to ride in traffic and uncomfortable except maybe in warm fair weather, and then you'll sweat. Car size is mainly influenced by what the auto industry chooses to manufacture and advertise, which then makes it a status symbol.

Of course we can give 10 different replies to why any of the above are not as true as people think, starting with highway congestion, but most people don't want to hear it.
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Old 10-03-06, 10:22 AM   #4
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Gas in Italy is also about 6 bucks per gallon.
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Old 10-03-06, 10:27 AM   #5
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I believe those people did not use much thinking in their communting choices.
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Old 10-03-06, 10:34 AM   #6
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Just came back from a trip up that way and I couldn't believe how few cars there were with multiple people in them.

We were passing by Hartford Conneticut and there was a create lane for people with just two or more people in the car - pretty much empty.

Except for us!
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Old 10-03-06, 10:41 AM   #7
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I'm a DCer and 100% bike commuter. Y'all are being a bit condescending.

My guess would be that the majority of people driving into the city along the 295 (and other freeways) are not stupid, but are doing what is most rational for them. A lot probably live outside the range of a doable (to the average person) bike commute. One of the most laughable statements of the OP is that the transit system here is great. If you live along a subway line, yeah, it's great, but the bus transit here is sadly slow. Subway transit is also as equally maxed out as the freeways at rush hour.

The problem is bad/incoherent urban and transit planning along with car-centered infrastructures and lifestyles that insist on car use. Northern Virginia makes Southern California's traffic engineers look like gods.
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Old 10-03-06, 10:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comradehoser
The problem is bad/incoherent urban and transit planning along with car-centered infrastructures and lifestyles that insist on car use.
Yeah, that too!
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Old 10-03-06, 11:04 AM   #9
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If cost of infrastucure required for an automobile base society were carried by gas taxes rather than general revenue, people would choose to leave their cars at home except for carrying large loads or taking the family on vacation. A Vespa scooter can give personal transportation over north american commuting distances.
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Old 10-03-06, 11:38 AM   #10
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My wife commuted by rail from WV into Bethesda. Train stop 8 min walk from home, transfer to metro somewhere in there, and get off right on campus at work, life was good, but it did take some advance planning to a) work there b) live there and c) schedule it all. DC area so crazy, tough to rationalize living anywhere but on a train or some kind of transit line.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickMcCabe
Gas in Italy is also about 6 bucks per gallon.
Gas is the same price everywhere, some places have politicians who have figured out the people will pay confiscatory tax rates on gas and charge accordingly.

The cost of gas does have an impact I am sure as does the compctness of most urban areas in Europe.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:15 PM   #12
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Many folks live a haul away from DC due to housing costs. There's folks who live in Baltimore and commute by train because of cheaper housing. The buses around here suck. Also,there's only so many places you can cross the Beltway safely. So if you're not near Metro,and not inside the city,you may have to commute by car.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comradehoser
I'm a DCer and 100% bike commuter. Y'all are being a bit condescending.

My guess would be that the majority of people driving into the city along the 295 (and other freeways) are not stupid, but are doing what is most rational for them. A lot probably live outside the range of a doable (to the average person) bike commute. One of the most laughable statements of the OP is that the transit system here is great. If you live along a subway line, yeah, it's great, but the bus transit here is sadly slow. Subway transit is also as equally maxed out as the freeways at rush hour.

The problem is bad/incoherent urban and transit planning along with car-centered infrastructures and lifestyles that insist on car use. Northern Virginia makes Southern California's traffic engineers look like gods.
At the two stations I was at, Branch Ave and Greenbelt, there were large parking lots for those driving to the station. Not trying to be condescending, but I really thought there might have been some changes since the last time I was in the area, mid 90's, since gas prices are higher.

I know it has been said elsewhere that behaviors won't change until the price gas gets over $5 a gallon.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango6
What are people thinking?
That's the problem: they don't.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:31 PM   #15
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I had the title of the thread runnnig through my head on my ride in this morning. Along the last mile of my commute, they are upgrading the T tracks and repaving the road. The road had been 1 "lane" of parked cars, 1 lane of cars and 1 lane that cars can shared with the T. During the construction, there is no parking and all the traffic compresses to 1 lane in each direction. Now, any time of day this is a parking lot. I zip by on my bike. And the automobile is supposed to be our link to personal freedom?

What are people thinking?
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Old 10-03-06, 12:39 PM   #16
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In my opinion, DC area and parking congestion is the best imaginable bike advocacy program in the country. The gridlock contributes greatly to a pleasant and safe cycling experience.

Example: if I lived elsewhere, the bicycle that my wife got me for Christmas ten years ago would be still languishing in the basement. Instead, I am riding 50 miles a week, every non-vacation week of the year, with immense health and pleasure benefits.


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Old 10-03-06, 12:56 PM   #17
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It does not help that a large number of the in cars sitting on the freeway are driving these huge SUV



When something like this is all they need for 90% of their driving.



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Old 10-03-06, 12:57 PM   #18
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my fiancee commutes from alexandria to silver spring... it's not pleasant, she tells me, but do-able, especially since she needs her car to get around the county for her job, and can't do montgomery county by bus/rail.... maybe someday she will.
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Old 10-03-06, 01:07 PM   #19
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It simply shows how easily we can be manipulated into buying things we don't need. Public transportation would be cheaper, faster, cleaner etc. We have have the opposite sold to us so much that we believe it.

Also the above Smart car is priced at around 27K. All the added parts that are required by the US to keep the gas milage under 30MPG add a huge chunk to the price. All for the false promise of cleaner air.
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Old 10-03-06, 01:41 PM   #20
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Why carpool when you can drive yourself? Carpooling is a PITA.

Quote:
When something like this is all they need for 90% of their driving.
Need has very little to do with it. Just like someone buying a $2000 bike.
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Old 10-03-06, 02:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comradehoser
My guess would be that the majority of people driving into the city along the 295 (and other freeways) are not stupid, but are doing what is most rational for them. A lot probably live outside the range of a doable (to the average person) bike commute. One of the most laughable statements of the OP is that the transit system here is great. If you live along a subway line, yeah, it's great, but the bus transit here is sadly slow. Subway transit is also as equally maxed out as the freeways at rush hour.
Traffic You get used to it.
Or you arrange your life around it.

I manage to bike commute 4 or 5 times a year, if I'm lucky.
I drive to work. I run my own small company and need my car. Clients call and I need to go on short notice.

Drive to office - 10 minutes with lights, 5 miles, going against traffic
Bike to office - 35 to 40 minutes for the 10 mile non-highway route, 25 if I use the highway.
Metro bus - an hour if everything runs on time (10 min walk, 5 to 15 min wait for bus, 25 min bus ride, 20 min walk to office or wait for another bus.)

Coming home, 9 to 10 at night typically.
Drive - 5 min if I catch the lights right, and I often do the grocery shopping on the way back.
Bike - Half the ride is on unlit trails that close at dark. Or take the highway. Not as crowded that time of night, but still dangerous (see thread on cyclist killed on Arlington Blvd yesterday morning)
Metro bus - runs (erratically) only once an hour, and still takes over an hour to get home.

For me, no real contest for time and convienece. But I try to bike to work when I "know" that I won't have to go anywhere and can ride home before dark. Federal holidays are good because the county offices are closed and there's less traffic. Columbus day is a "maybe"

My wife commutes from Falls Church to Old Town by Metro. Walk, bus, orange line subway, transfer to blue line, then bus or long walk. Takes 1 hr 45 min each way when every thing runs on time. I can drive from our house to her office in the morning in less than an hour (45 min once)

The Metro subway is good and the buses are ok, but for me they often don't go where I need to go in the time I need to get there.
If I worked downtown and for someone else, I'd reconsider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dynaryder
Many folks live a haul away from DC due to housing costs. There's folks who live in Baltimore and commute by train because of cheaper housing. The buses around here suck. Also,there's only so many places you can cross the Beltway safely. So if you're not near Metro,and not inside the city,you may have to commute by car.
+1
I know people who commute to DC from Fredricksburg VA, Frostburg MD, Leonardtown MD and Berkley WV. They spend a lot of their life on the road.

Last edited by cc_rider; 10-03-06 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 10-03-06, 06:01 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cc_rider
My wife commutes from Falls Church to Old Town by Metro. Walk, bus, orange line subway, transfer to blue line, then bus or long walk. Takes 1 hr 45 min each way when every thing runs on time. I can drive from our house to her office in the morning in less than an hour (45 min once)
The WO&D, Custis, and Mt Vernon trails go from Falls Church to Old town Alexandria - probably a 45min to an hour ride.

Car commuting in the DC metro area rates in the top 3 worst of the nation. Metrobus, however, is not always better or faster. I used to commute 4 miles by car in 15 minutes for half the cost of taking 20 - 25 minutes by the bus stop accross the street from my house. Of course, paying for parking would have changed that. I could have biked it.
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Old 10-03-06, 06:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robtown
The WO&D, Custis, and Mt Vernon trails go from Falls Church to Old town Alexandria - probably a 45min to an hour ride.
From our part of Falls Church it's 16 miles on the W&OD, 4MR and MVT (Custis adds 4 miles). I usually make it in about an hour. Could be an option for me IF I worked there and didn't need to drive for work.
My wife doesn't bike or drive so Metro is her best option. She gets a lot of reading done on the commute.
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Old 10-03-06, 09:50 PM   #24
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I don't know about you guys, but personally I'm quite happy to let the cagers sit in gridlock if that's what they want. Everyday I pass thousands of gridlocked cars on Bundall road with minimal effort, and minimal fear, confident in the knowledge that even if I do make an error in judgement, the traffic is moving so slowly that I'll have plenty of time to correct it. Now put all those people on bicycles, and some of my flexibility and confidence would disappear. Then consider the difficulties in finding a place to park at the end of the ride (not a problem for me right now), or the rampant bike theft industry that would spring up... Perhaps being part of a small elite isn't such a bad thing.

People talk about The Netherlands as some kind of cycling utopia. To me it isn't. The prospect of having to ride 4-5km out of my way on every errand because the law compels me to use some "bike route" rather than the arterial roads I currently use doesn't strike me as utopia. The prospect of being relegated to the status of slow moving wheeled pedestrian, and consequently having to start every errand 30 minutes earlier is not something my time constraints would allow.

In short, I have no intention of giving up my cycling freedom on the off chance that someone driving to work may or may not "get it". The fewer people discover cycling, the better for every cyclist on the planet.
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Old 10-04-06, 05:40 AM   #25
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Personally, I feel that people don't consider their commute when they purchase or rent their homes.(majority of people at lleast) They want the biggest house they can get and ae willing to drive for it. Some people may live a good way out of the city due to schools, etc. It all burns down to priorities, for most of us that priority is riding it seems.
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