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Car Free Day opens horizons

Figuring out how to get around isn't an ideology. I always recommend that people figure out what method of going about works best for them, and then follow that course. I urge governments to provide people with choices.

So to me, Wednesday's Car Free Day is about raising consciousness concerning choice, not about pushing people out of their cars. So I hope people who usually drive will consider options that could save them money and stress. You don't have to take a sudden and lasting plunge into a completely different commuting style. But do think through the alternatives of transit, biking, walking or telecommuting -- even once in a while. As Nicholas Ramfos of the Commuter Connections program says, "Just try it."

Getting started
Figure out how much your commute is costing you. I stopped driving to The Post newsroom in downtown Washington when I figured out the cost of warehousing my car for nine hours each day. I could have used the advice offered by the Cost of Commuting calculator at, or Arlington County's Car Free Diet calculator.

Exploring options
Maybe you started your job five or 10 years ago. You checked out the commuting options then and settled on driving because you saw no alternative. There are some new options. And your frustration level with the drive may have increased to the point where it's worth trying your luck again with a long-standing alternative.

But where to begin? Think about bus routes -- not only Metrobus but also the suburban lines, which offer some pretty good services. Think about vanpools and carpools. Think about the exercise you could get using one of the new bike routes. Think about how technology and the enlightening of bosses have made it easier to telecommute.

There's a good list of links to get you started on this page of the Car Free Day Web site.

Car Free Day events
Maybe you want to get in the spirit of things by going Car Free or Car Lite on Wednesday. Check out this page of car-free activities and note that many of them are not limited to Wednesday events.

Commuter Connections
If you aren't finding the information you need, contact your bosses and get them working on it. Many employers in the Washington region have realized that they have a lot to gain by making it easier for their employees to get to work or to telecommute. The most powerful guide to your options and your employer's options is at Commuter Connections.

By Robert Thomson  | September 21, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Metrorail ridership goes up
Next: Beltway lanes backed up in VA


Nice for those who can do it.

Posted by: ceefer66 | September 21, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jiji1 | September 21, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

For many, a day without cars is a day of great inconvenience. A nice, soft thought though.

Posted by: JohnRice | September 21, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Not everyone can. Not everyone who can does, though.

And on days like today, it really, really is nice.

Posted by: krickey7 | September 21, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll do it. I'll either walk (30 mins. each way, not doable every day but I'll make a point of it tomorrow) or else take the bus if it's too hot.

Posted by: csdiego | September 21, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I encourage everyone else to explore alternative transportation options tomorrow.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | September 21, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

This is one of those 'feel good' stories that seem good at first read. Have the writers checked out the surburbs? Most of the communities out there are islands of homes. Service outlets, ie super markets, gas stations, laundry, etc are on seperate islands. Employement outlets are usually on their seperate island. This requires a means to travel between the islands ie cars.

I live in the District and the nearnest grocery store is more than a mile away. To get there by other means beside a car would mean I would have to walk to the subway, take the subway for one stop and then transfer to a bus. Needless to say the cost of using Metro and the time required makes using a car the cheapest and fastest way for me.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | September 21, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

They're only islands to the extent you think they are. I live in the suburbs. I can get around for a significant percentage of my trips without a car. Not all, to be sure, but a fair amount.

And my resting heartrate is scary low.

Posted by: krickey7 | September 21, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Ironicaly it might be the best day to drive into DC!

Posted by: WhatBubble | September 21, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jiji1


Why, you smug, simplistic twit!

Many people in this region are contractors/consultants who change work locations frequently. Do you honestly expect them to "move" every time they get a new assignment?

I work for a Big 6 consulting firm. In the last 2 years, when working locally, I've worked in Rockville, Gaithersburg, DC and Herndon. Using your simple-minded logic, I should have sold my house and "moved" every time!

Tell you what, help me pay for an apartment "closer to work" and you can tell me how to handle my business. Otherwise, I'm sure you know what you can do.

Better yet, once you get out of school and start working in the real world you will see just how stupid you sound.

Meanwhile, have a happy landing.

Posted by: ceefer66 | September 21, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm fortunate in that I telecommute 2 days a week. And for DECADES I have combined errands that need to be done with a, cleaners, supermarket, gas station, etc., etc. It's not that much fun to drive in and around DC (it's all urban driving). AND I can walk to downtown Silver Spring for groceries, movies, restaurants, etc. I bike whenever I can, but drivers are not bike-friendly.

Posted by: DecafDrinker | September 21, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Major brands always give out their popular brand samples (in a way it is similar to coupons) I alway use qualityhealth to get mine enjoy your free samples

Posted by: colinfarrell22 | September 22, 2010 4:46 AM | Report abuse

Having just arrived at work, I can say that I did not notice any fewer cars on the roads I travel on my commute. I was hoping that my commute would be easier, but it wasn't. Oh, well.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | September 22, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

"Having just arrived at work, I can say that I did not notice any fewer cars on the roads I travel on my commute. I was hoping that my commute would be easier, but it wasn't. Oh, well."

Oh well, maybe someone else will do it, so my life will be easier. Maybe someone else will care about our dependence on foreign oil. Maybe someone else will skip the AC. Maybe someone else will turn off the light. Maybe.

Posted by: tysonsara1 | September 22, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I had already examined my alternative years ago. Vanpooling worked for me for 6 years, until a job location change. Now I ride a commuter bus, and frequently bike to/from the bus stop.

In his 2006 State of the Union speech, Bush had said "America is addicted to oil".

More and more analysts, including the US Joint Forces Command, are warning about a peaking in global oil production in the next couple of years, so we can either be proactive about a transition to a different lifestyle, or we can be reactive and way behind the power curve with far fewer choices.

Posted by: skyemoor1 | September 22, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

More and more analysts, including the US Joint Forces Command, are warning about a peaking in global oil production in the next couple of years, so we can either be proactive about a transition to a different lifestyle, or we can be reactive and way behind the power curve with far fewer choices.

Posted by: skyemoor1

I'm old enough to remember when alarmists said the same thing before - in 1973.

In fact, "we're running out of oil any day now" hysteria was a driving force in truncating the DC region's planned highway system and putting all the money and planning into Metro.

We can see what that line of thinking has gotten us - the nation's worse traffic congestion (or second-worse, depending on who you believe). It doesn't take a PhD in Urban Planning to see that Metro hasn't met all of our transportation needs after all.

And knowing that, all we seem to be able talk about seriously are "alternatives". Not solutions. "Alternatives".

That, and demonizing people who have the audacity to drive by themselves in their own vehicles.

Posted by: ceefer66 | September 22, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It would cost me more money, stress, and a lot more time to take public transportation, so I don't. Frankly, I'm very happy I don't have to subject myself to Metro everyday.

Posted by: futbolclif | September 22, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Good luck with building more roads. No one wants to live near that, so it doesn't happen. No use crying for might-have-beens. So we have to squeeze more capacity out of the existing systems or deal with ever-worsening congestion. I hear no solution from you, only objections to every suggestion anyone else puts out. Tolls? Won't work, too elitist. Mass transit? Waste of money. Biking, walking, carpooling or telecommuting? Inconvenient, or doesn't work for me.

There are solutions, not perfect and none that work all by themselves. You just refuse to accept them in defense of a status quo that is increasingly wasteful in terms of time and environmental consequences.

Posted by: krickey7 | September 22, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I had to go downtown on Tuesday to file some documents at the federal courthouse and then to meet someone for lunch. I took the Metro instead of driving because of the nuisance of finding parking convenient to both locations (i.e., if I parked halfway between the two, it would wind up being easier just to take the Metro all the way, so that's what I did). Worked out fine and I must admit it made me recall how it used to be nice to read a book while commuting, although I should also note that it was midday when I was riding the trains (Huntington to Archives inbound so as to walk to the courthouse; then crosstown from Judiciary Square to Farragut North after leaving the courthouse; then Farragut North to Gallery Place to Huntington for the trip home).

Today I did not do the "car-free" thing because the two errands I wanted to run (which I combined into one trip) wouldn't allow for it. Had to haul several boxes of stuff and there was no way to do it without the car. But since I worked from the home office, I don't feel that it's any problem at all!

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 22, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Imagine if most of the commuters would be part of a carpool…it would be so much easier to get into the city.

I tried the carbon dioxide and driving cost calculator of the carpooling network ( ) and they suggest huge savings: up to 2000$ and 1,5 tons of GHG per year.

I found this calculator much more user friendly then the one cited in the article...

Posted by: pete926 | September 23, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

"Imagine if most of the commuters would be part of a carpool…it would be so much easier to get into the city."

Sure, but isn't that a propagandist's pipe dream? One reason the slug line system works so well is due to the difficulty of forming a "traditional" carpool where the same three or four people ride to and from work together every day. The traditional model assumes that you'll have three or four people who both live and work near each other, or along the same route (say, I work at 13th & K and you work at 12th & G), and have the same or very similar work schedules, and can be counted on to commute at the same time every day (e.g., I have Capitals season tickets, so I would not be carpooling home at the same time every night during the season). It's extremely difficult to make that sort of arrangement work in the first place, let alone on a consistent basis.

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 23, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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