I am going to play off of the article written by Hannah Sternberg on bike week and talk about driving. Is there a “drive to work” week? I guess every week is “drive to work week,” or, in Washington, D.C., “try not to die while getting to your place of employment” week.
Washington, D.C., has the great honor of being one of the worst places to own a car and to navigate in a vehicle. Getting in and out of the city is something akin to Frodo’s quest to destroy the one ring in Mordor. Here is my list of the four most annoying things D.C. drivers encounter on the road.
*Also, these are not in a specific order as all of them are equally annoying.
1. Herds of tourists
There are so many people and so many cars on the road in D.C., it typically takes 20 minutes to go four miles. As a D.C. resident, you get used to ridiculousness like this, but in order to get to your destination, you need to be a little aggressive–like zooming through greens and even using yellows to get through intersections. If you don’t, you may never get home. I understand that tourists want to take the “prettiest picture ever” of that monument or that cherry blossom tree, but you can’t walk out into the middle of the road to do it. You also can’t stand with 50 of your underage friends in the crosswalk and re-recreate the Harlem Shake when you are blocking traffic. The drivers trying to obey the traffic lights want to get home–and you and your “I LOVE DC” t-shirt are the only thing between them and their goal…you better move it.
2. Rogue Taxis
In most cities, the taxis are the “craziest” drivers–weaving, speeding, running reds, and almost whacking pedestrians as they shuttle people through back-roads to their destinations. However, in fast-paced D.C., taxis seem to be both the slowest cars and most confused drivers on the road. They tend to make their own lanes, or sit in two at the same time, and usually block traffic by going 10 miles under the speed limit. Most taxi drivers I’ve encountered have a very basic understanding of D.C. streets and usually end up getting lost. I’ve also had a few drive the WRONG way down one-ways…
3. Bikes with Identity Crises
Are you a bike or are you a pedestrian? Bikes in D.C. can’t seem to make up their mind — or maybe they like causing mass confusion when they enter intersections against the light… or disobey traffic laws… or swerve into cars… or listen to their iPods at full blast and ignore everything around them. NEWSFLASH: just because you are on a bike does not mean you are above the law. Drivers shouldn’t have to try to conduct a full behavioral analysis in five seconds when encountered with bikers — it’s dangerous. My usual maneuver is to give them as much room as possible… aka enough to make a B-52 bomber feel comfortable.
4.Presidents, Parades, and Elephants?
Living in the same city as the president has its perks… and some disadvantages. One of those disadvantages is cruising down your normal route only to find that it has been blocked off to accommodate the president’s motorcade, a parade, or a street festival. NOW you have to wait 20 minutes and try not to piss off the police officer directing traffic…wish I could get the A-List treatment! But wait! Not only does the Prez get special treatment, but also pachyderms! True story, I’ve been stopped to allow a group of circus elephants to cross an intersection…I told you D.C. was a circus!