Reader Proposes Solutions to Washington Traffic
Do you agree with this set of ideas from a D.C. driver, or would you like to add any of your own?
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
On Thursday last [July 16], it took 45 minutes to drive to 1825 18th St. NW from 700 7th St. SW. I left at 9:15 a.m. There were no accidents, closed streets, or any other unexpected delays. Just plain traffic congestion.
What can the city do to lift the traffic curse? I thought of several possible solutions. Here they are:
1. Build a municipal underground parking garage under the site of the old convention center and a park above it. This would give us beauty and our own mini Central Park.
2. Require that all deliveries be made before 8 a.m., except perhaps for FedEx and UPS.
3. Crack down on cars that are double-parked with flashing lights to pick up dry clearing or the like.
4. Create some pedestrian zones on those midtown streets that have no public parking garages. Many European capitals have them.
5. Establish diagonal parking on streets that are wide enough as it has already been done on Eighth Street SE.
6. Make drivers with diplomatic license plates accountable and bar them from parking willy-nilly wherever and whenever they please.
Enforcement of these ordinances might give us a chance to get down from the No. 2 position in the nation for worst traffic congestion.
Renee Gier, Washington
That trip is about three and a half miles, and according to online directions, should take about 13 minutes, rather than 45. Instead of just complaining, Gier is offering ideas.
Here are some quick reactions:
-- A big new garage, besides being expensive, would be more of a traffic magnet than a relief. Still, drivers cruising for street parking are a contributing factor in congestion.
-- Drivers are right to complain about the congestion caused by delivery trucks. Rather than ban then for most of the day, which would be an hardship for businesses and customers, or exempt some companies, I'd enforce current bans on rush hour parking on commuter routes. (One of the complaints I hear most frequently is that current parking rules are not enforced.) Gier also notes that enforcement against double-parkers should be more vigorous.
-- I doubt we have many congested streets where traffic would flow more smoothly or more safely with diagonal parking. Many drivers complain about SUVs and mini-vans blocking their views as they back out of spaces. Other drivers back up without looking.
What I'd add:
-- Consider imposing a toll to get into a downtown "congestion zone." The toll would make some drivers consider other travel options. The money raised would be set aside for congestion relief.
-- Add bike lanes and make bike rentals more available. (I'm not saying the Gier should have biked. But I'd like to make it an easier option for those who want to. It would get cars off the streets.)
-- Pursue the plan approved last week at the Washington Council of Governments meeting to upgrade bus service. Again, I'm not saying Gier should have taken a bus, but the more people who have that option, the less crowded the streets will be.
July 21, 2009; 9:12 AM ET
Categories: Congestion , Driving | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, letter, traffic
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