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  1. #1
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    rather than do my homework... commuting in DC

    will be soon relocated in the DC area, and have been met with some oposition when talking to perspective landlords who all say you need a car in DC. What is the Metro for? Is it these peeps are just blindered to the idea of alternatives to burning fossil fuel vehicles? Just wondering, as this is a chance to dump a big expense in my life, a Dodge Caravan, while it serves me well, it is 200-300 a month that could be saved or used to ride Amtrak to NYC to bike. It would be fun to start over in a new place with a new lifestyle being car free.

    What are some of the obstacles to commuting in DC. I'll be working in Rockville, and have been looking at places on line in Silver Springs, Tahoma Park, Germantown, and Gaithersburg, so it's not DC proper, but could be fun just the same. I lived almost car free for three years five years ago, but this is MPLS and it's rather bike friendly.

    Winter's have got to milder there, something I'm looking forward to, not having to layer up to ride. I can't wait to get out there and just see what it's like. I'm stoked for the culture, the history, the job. Looking forward to hearing from y'all.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

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  2. #2
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    It's no problem. Silver Spring and Takoma are both quite nice, by the way.

    We got rid of our 2nd car. I rent on the rare occassion we need a 2nd car to get something done.
    IMO DC is pretty easy without a car. The drivers are a hassle here because everyone is almost as important as the president. They have deals to make, places to go...they're a pretty impatient lot and it shows in their driving.

    All the DC Metro busses have bike racks and you can put a bike on Metro anytime it's not rush hour.

    By the way, a week ago I found out that Amtrack DC to NY does not permit bikes in racks nor do they accept bike boxes.

    DC is a great place to live and it's an easy place to get around via bike.
    Last edited by littlewaywelt; 09-27-07 at 12:52 PM.
    One Less Car
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  3. #3
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I don't live in the DC area, but go there on business trips, and I can tell you that I regularly see MANY people commuting in the area... whoever told you you couldn't survive without a car is nuts.

    Even as a visitor, I once left my home when I lived in California, and never used a car from the time I left until I got back home... mass transit or on foot every place I went.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by naisme View Post
    will be soon relocated in the DC area, and have been met with some oposition when talking to perspective landlords who all say you need a car in DC. What is the Metro for? Is it these peeps are just blindered to the idea of alternatives to burning fossil fuel vehicles? Just wondering, as this is a chance to dump a big expense in my life, a Dodge Caravan, while it serves me well, it is 200-300 a month that could be saved or used to ride Amtrak to NYC to bike. It would be fun to start over in a new place with a new lifestyle being car free.
    I guess I'm not quite understanding - why does your landlord care if you have a car?

    As to surviving without a car in the DC metro area, it strongly depends on where you live/work and where you want to go. The places you named should be fine, but there are some places (especially the 'burbs in Virginia) where you can pretty much forget it unless you're comfortable riding in dense, high-speed traffic.

    The weather is certainly milder in winter than Minneapolis, I would presume. It can still get reasonably cold, though probably not by your standards. Also, I'm not sure how it compares with your area but it gets really windy here in winter, which isn't much fun.

    But all in all, it's not a bad area to bike, there are a ton of MUPs and rail-trails if you like that. I personally would highly suggest ditching the car if at all possible because driving in the DC metro area is a disaster. We've rapidly climbed the rankings and are now tied for the 2nd worst traffic in the country, behind only LA. Much of the reason I started commuting is simply because I hate driving around here.

    In any event, welcome to the area (soon).

  5. #5
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    snow ?
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  6. #6
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fordfasterr View Post
    snow ?
    almost none.
    every 7-10 years we get a substantial blizzard of 3ft or so. Beyond that we typically get 2-3 snowstorms per winter and we're lucky if it's more than 2 inches. It rarely lasts longer than a day. Temps are often in the 20s. We rarely get into the teens.

    That said, that much snow (or little) completely paralyzes this city. Often with 6 inches of snow the Fed gvt will shut down or do liberal leave policies. Schools let kids go early, and bread and milk disappear from the grocery store shelves. There are accidents everywhere. I recall a great story about a secretary from Vermont who was a few hours late to work in a snowstorm. She was asked you know how to drive in the snow, why are you late? Her reply. Yah, but no one else does...I took the bus. DC drivers are an absolute and complete hazard in snow.
    Last edited by littlewaywelt; 09-27-07 at 01:32 PM.
    One Less Car
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  7. #7
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    Germantown is a vast wasteland of suburban sprawl. Gaithersburg is a little bit better, and closer to civilization. Silver Spring is OK. Takoma Park is a quasi-hippie enclave and great for countercultural stuff. Rockville has nothing to offer except for a Metro station and a few decent restaurants, but seems mostly harmless. I'd recommend living as close as possible to both work and the Metro station. Rockville is a long way, maybe 20 miles, from DC, and it is a different world.

    Paul

  8. #8
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
    By the way, a week ago I found out that Amtrack DC to NY does not permit bikes in racks nor do they accept bike boxes.
    I'm pretty sure the Chinatown bus will let you put your bike underneath.

  9. #9
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    We get almost no snow NOW. In the late 70's and 80's it would snow around Christmas and the ground would be covered for 8 to 10 weeks with a fresh batch every week. Since the 90's were get 3 to 5 snow storms a year with very little of it staying more than a day.
    Bigger problem is sleet, freezing rain and black ice. Winter temps often hover around 30 degrees.

    DC is a good city for Metro and bike commuting, depending where you live. If you work in the middle of Rockville and not out on the fringe, Metrorail should get you to it. Bus or bike could get you the rest of the way.

    If you are living around Bethesda / Silver spring, you could bike commute up Beach Drive and the Rock Creek Trail all the way to Rockville.

  10. #10
    MB1
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    It has been a few years since I missed a day of bike commuting here in DC due to weather. We use studded tires for the couple of weeks each year (lately February) where there is enough snow and ice to make things slippery. Drivers are a bigger problem than surface conditions.

    Your real commuting problem is going to be working out a traffic-lite route. For starters check out bikewashington.org there is also a fairly good ADC Washington DC Bike map available at local bookstores or likely on-line from ADC.

    Will you need a car? We don't but we live closer in than you are thinking of and work downtown. I'd say keep the car as you learn the area then decide after you have been here for a while.

    BTW don't throw out your winter clothes just yet.......

  11. #11
    ...addicted... rocks in head's Avatar
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    I can confirm the Chinatown bus lets you take the bike on the bus. Cable lock it in the rear bay, away from the other luggage.

    It's interesting biking in DC. I actually just bought a car to use on the weekends, because yes, when you live outside the high-density areas where parking is a problem, it's sometimes nice to have a car.

    I go from Anacostia to Alexandria every day, 24 mile RT. When I lived in Alexandria, I tried to make it in to DC to do stuff, but it was tougher than I thought it would be.

    by the way, one of my friends lives in Gaithersburg and works in Rockville, we often joke that he lives in bland and works in blander... suburban sprawl at it's full glory.
    Quote Originally Posted by dalmore
    I thought they had three seasons out there? Wildfire, mudslide and normal? No?

  12. #12
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    Also, on occasions when you might really need or want a car you can rent by the hour using either Flexcar or Zipcar. These cars are available for pickup at a lot of metro stops and other locations. Both have oodles of information online.

  13. #13
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    I had a friend who worked in Rockville (not far from the White Flint Mall, actually) and lived in downtown Silver Spring. She could commute by car, Metro, bus, or -- as she most recently found out -- by bike. If she chose any mode besides driving her car, she was much less agitated after her commute.

    In the US, DC is second only to NYC in ridership of public transportation, apparently. A good chunk of it within the District is made up of tourists, but there are a LOT of people who commute regularly via the Metro subway.

  14. #14
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    I agree that you should be able to create a decent bike commute to Rockville from Silver Spring and with a little more riding in traffic from Takoma Park. The Bikewashington site and the ADC bike map of the area are great resources for planning light traffic routes. More MUPs, trails and bike lanes seem to be cropping up all over Montgomery county. Metro buses and the county's Ride-On buses all have bike racks which can make longer trips more practical.

    As for bland Rockville and the other towns out there -- what can you say but that they are a triumph of poured concrete. You don't have to have a car, but you may find yourself paying more or doing without some things because it is either too far or too difficult to get to some of the larger cheaper discount stores by bike. (Also there is no Walmart in the entire county -- so if you're used to one, start your withdrawal now). There are, however, half a million strip malls and other retail establishments in the Rockville area so you shouldn't have to lead a spartan existence.
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
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  15. #15
    Seņor Miembro JustBrowsing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
    Rockville has nothing to offer except for a Metro station and a few decent restaurants, but seems mostly harmless.
    Hey, there's a Performance Bikes and an REI really close to each other there. That's something...
    Hey! Get your mouse off my text!

  16. #16
    MB1
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    Like I said.

    Quote Originally Posted by naisme View Post
    .....Winter's have got to milder there, something I'm looking forward to, not having to layer up to ride. I can't wait to get out there and just see what it's like. I'm stoked for the culture, the history, the job. Looking forward to hearing from y'all.
    Don't toss your winter layers just yet.
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