Culture

How the Government Shutdown Is Fueling Road Rage

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I’ve been getting a lot of emails from family and friends who live in other parts of the country: How is D.C. now that everything is shut down?”

Well, to me, who walks to work and stays primarily around the neighborhood, it all seems pretty normal.  However, this can’t be said for the bike and car commuters. (I feel ya, guys.)

I played the road-warrior role for a year, driving from my home in Alexandria, VA, to Washington, D.C. (and back) each day.  The commute can be brutal. Everyone is mad, the roads are clogged, vacationers are frantically changing lanes (sometimes into your car), and horns are constantly honking. In a nutshell, it’s bad even on a “good day.”

The government shutdown has managed to make the trek in/out of D.C. even worse than usual—and I extend my sincerest condolences to you road-warriors out there.

**Note: I think all D.C. drivers should read this WikiHow article on how to stay calm during road rage. Hey, it can’t hurt…

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The Capital Crescent Trail

So what’s closed and who’s hating their commute more than usual?

BIKES: The Aorta and Femoral artery of bike paths

Unfortunately, the Capital Crescent Trail (the “most heavily used rail-trail in the U.S.” according to DC.StreetsBlog.org) has been closed.  This trail extends from Silver Spring, MD, through Bethesda, MD, down into Georgetown, D.C.  It’s a not a secret that D.C. metro-area drivers are some of the worst in the country—so it makes sense that bicyclists who value their lives choose to commute on a gorgeous bike path versus brave the terror on the streets.

This trail is managed by the National Park Service, which has found itself “shut down” in the wake of the political food-fight on Capitol Hill.  I don’t support breaking the law, but I won’t lie…the trail is not guarded by dragons or armed guards and is only blocked by what looks like a 10-foot PVC tube on a chain.  In typical D.C. fashion, bikers are breaking the rules.  Oh well.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail is also closed.  This bike path extends from Georgetown, D.C., north into Cumberland, M.D.  This 185-mile path is popular with commuters and hobby bikers.  Metal bars block the entrances.

Rock Creek Park sign at the Maryland border

Access Denied.

CARS: A Washington, D.C. Escape Route

Roads in D.C. are open except for those leading into national parks. Thus, the Rock Creek Parkway, which runs THROUGH D.C. has been shut down.  There are rumors that a car-commuter route is still open… but I am skeptical…

Beach Drive within Rock Creek Park is also closed—but, again, you can’t control everyone. Rogue D.C. bicyclists have claimed the road as their interim “Capital Crescent Trail” and are using it to commute to/from work.  I can’t blame them.

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Obviously, Washington, D.C. is quite tense these days… an increasing amount of coffee is being consumed, more dollars are being pinched, and more and more people are feeling depressed. Now, even the journey to get to D.C., Political Quagmire USA is more complicated and infuriating.  We can all thank Government Shutdown 2013.