As I was in the elevator to leave work yesterday, a co-worker was checking her smartphone and mentioned that there was suspicious package found on street where my office is located and that they had to close down a few blocks to investigate. This is never a "small affair", especially in Washington, D.C., and especially at Rush Hour! The elevator doors opened up and we both looked outside to the street and saw things VERY backed up and tight. It reminded me of 9/11 years ago, and how it threw the city into gridlock. And, just as on that day, I had bicycled to work, and so this traffic issue was a "non-issue" as I hopped on my bike and wound my way around the cars, etc. It's a very liberating experience, though I felt badly for those stuck in the traffic jam. I was on my way to have dinner with out-of-town friends who were staying at a hotel nearby, so it was nice that the traffic incident didn't slow me down at all, and I got to my destination right on time. :)
Last year, there was an article in the Washington Post, stating that the D.C. area has the worst traffic congestion in the NATION...outdoing even Chicago and Los Angeles! The friends I met up with both live in the L.A. area, and one of them said that if they lived in D.C., they would definitely get rid of their car (and that's saying A LOT, coming from someone who lives in car-centric L.A.). The article went on to say that the average D.C. commuter spends 74 hours in yearly commuting, using 37 gallons of gas - idling in traffic, costing $1,495 a year. Wow. Of course, those figures fluctuate, due to the weather, traffic incidents, and gas prices.
As I've said in the past, I feel a lot of Washingtonians COULD try commuting by biking and enjoy the great bike paths the area has to offer that thread right through many of the nearby suburbs they are now driving to. I think they'd be surprised how much time and money they would save in the long run. Even if they only were fair-weather riders!