Driving to Work

I drive. I drive quite a bit. But I rarely drive to work and I rarely drive through the city during rush hour. I did today, as did a lot of other people. Here are some things I thought about driving to work concerning topics of a varying nature. Topics of a varying nature, such as:

Nature- It was raining this morning and I was happy to not be riding my bike in it. I didn't get wet on account of my car's roof. I didn't even need to wear a hat. I did get wet after I parked and walked through the rain, sans umbrella, to get to my building, so that might have defeated the point. This evening, however, it was really nice and I'm a little sad that I missed getting to spend the time outside enjoying that niceness.

Time- It took me about 5 minutes fewer to get to work than by bike and maybe 10 minutes fewer to get home. I did nothing with all of the time I saved. I suppose I could've put it to productive purpose (catching up on my correspondence, building a diorama, donating blood, etc.), but I didn't. In both cases, the car trips took longer than they would have had there been no traffic and it must be that which causes so much frustration among people who drive. When I ride my bike, it pretty much takes the same amount of time as it always does. When I drive, it fluctuates wildly and I think that knowing that your car is theoretically capable of getting somewhere faster than it currently is traveling must take a toll on people. It's like watching your favorite sport's team/Dance Moms dance kid underperform- you know that under different circumstances that things could be better! But, unlike a sport'steam/dance kid, it's exogenous factors, namely other people driving at the same time you are, that deny peak performance.

Inflection Points- There are definitely distances and locations where it's faster/easier to go by bike than by car. It easily took me longer to get to around the Capitol in the car than it would have by bike. I was probably about even in terms of time until about the start of the Rock Creek Parkway. My time "gains" came in the second half of the trip, where the roads became less street-y and more road-y. It's pretty unsurprising that you can go faster by car on roads that are more suitable for faster car driving. This was pretty much the case on the way home, too. I would've been about even or faster by bike through Dupont and even maybe to 11th (I drove Massachusetts the whole way from work to Union Station) and then realized my "gains" from about 7th to Union Station, but then lost some gains again back on the Hill. Anyway, I found these inflection points, where the faster mode switches from bike to car, interesting (and to be much farther away from home than I would've expected). Just as you wouldn't use the same tool for all home improvements (hammer for hammering, screwdriving for ??? [I'm not really handy]), some modes of transportation are better for certain jobs than others and it's better to have a full toolbox than to just have one awesome-ass hammer because that awesome-ass hammer (probably?) isn't the best tool for rewiring you electricity (or something).

Parking- It was free today. It normally costs $16. Knowing this (I found out yesterday from a colleague) dramatically impacted my decision to drive. Had I not known that parking was free, I certainly would've biked.

Route planning- I don't drive to work very often and I still don't know the best way to get there. On some weekends when I've had to work, I've actually driven into Virginia to get to NW. I could offer opinion after opinion on bike routes all over town, but I really have no clue about the best way to drive anywhere. Maybe it's because there is no "best" way. Every way seemed crowded. Especially at rush hour, but I don't get what Canadian rockers have to do with it.

Traffic laws- I did my best. Pretty sure I didn't break any of them any more egregiously than I would have by bike. I don't know what that says about me or about traffic laws. I've developed the biking habit of starting at the pedestrian signal (which is almost soon legal) and this is not the right thing to do while driving.

Bicyclists- I saw a bunch of them. To the best of my knowledge, none of them were responsible for the traffic, but maybe I'm biased. The ones I did see did roll through stop signs and weave through traffic, but not to deleterious effect. I saw some pedestrians who crossed against the light and this in many instances seemed to slow car traffic, but I can't say to what extent this actually impacted overall travel time. For example, a driver impacted by a jaywalking pedestrian could just drive a little faster later in the trip. Or maybe that driver would have just been stopped at the next red light a little down the road. I don't really know, but I didn't feel detrimentally impacted by non-drivers.

Buses- Buses, on a number of occasions, did seem to slow down car traffic. Pre-payment and both-door entry and exit would seem to help this. And of course, dedicated bus lanes would completely alter the equation, since the buses would be in their own lanes and outside of car traffic entirely.

Honking- I heard some honking. It was only once at me and from a woman in a minivan who wanted me to pull slightly forward so she could turn into a gas station. It's definitely less offensive and onerous heard through car windows. But it's still unpleasant.

This concludes the once-in-a-blogtime gimmick of writing about my car commute. It was fine, but it's not really for me. I liked listening to podcasts, but other than that, I don't really have much that I prefer about it to other ways of getting to and from work. I guess I could also listen to podcasts when biking, but I really like having the ability to hear when doing that. I didn't really feel any more "freedom" than I do from biking and in some ways felt more constrained (and certainly more subject to the decisions and whims of other travelers) than I do on my bike. So, that's that.

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