Normally, if I consider myself well enough to go into work, I consider myself well enough to bike there. In fact, the reverse is more or less how I determine whether or not I should go in: if I'm not well enough to bike, then I'm certainly not well enough to work. But on Friday, for whatever, I felt like I needed to be at the office for much of the day, but didn't think that bike commuting would work in my best interest. I stood at the cusp of no longer being sick and worried that the additional exertion wouldn't facilitate thwarting the microscopic hobgoblins that rendered me low the day before and faced with this, I elected to leave the bike aside and take the car into work. It was fine.
I've driven to work before, but I'm not in the habit of doing it, nor especially familiar with the 'best' routes that will get me there with the least traffic. I took Constitution to Pennsylvania (where I would normally bike) to 15th (where I normally bike) to M Street (where I normally bike) to 22nd street (where I don't normally bike) to Massachusetts (where I used to bike, but don't as much anymore). The whole thing took me, I'd guess, around 35 minutes, which is about 10-15 minutes faster than the bike ride. I parked the car. It cost me $12. I didn't have to shower or change my clothes (I don't have specialist driving attire, but I'm admittedly a noob, so maybe I should read some Car and Driver and figure out what gear will make me look like the pros) and I think for me that's the biggest time-saver. I could take or leave the 10 minutes saved in driving over biking- one stalled car or slightly more congestion on the roads (it was Friday, whatever that means) would erase that- but the not having to get ready for work and instead just getting to work was what I considered to be a pretty big advantage. If I could ride to work in my work clothes and arrive in such a way that I was presentable, then yeah, that'd be better. But, alas.
I drove him via Massachusetts and Rock Creek Parkway, a road that's through a park and four lanes wide and altogether totally wrong for a city. Not that anyone ever would, because zoom zoom cars, but making the part that's four lanes wide into a part that's two lanes wide and turning some of that space into a dedicated bicycle facility, thereby freeing up the sidepath for the many runners who use it, would change the dynamics of the space in a really positive way. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CARS? WHERE WOULD THE CARS GO? THEY'D CLOG THE STREETS. WE CAN'T DO IT BECAUSE OF THE CARS. This whole line of argumentation depresses me and not necessarily because it's inaccurate. But this is the story of roads in the urban context these days. Can't try to make things better anywhere because it might make things worse elsewhere. I'm a little tired of being held hostage by the status quo. But such as life, I guess.
I followed the RCP to Independence to the highway to 11th street to Potomac Avenue to Kentucky to the grocery store and then home. There was some traffic, but I don't remember hating life because of it.
I don't think I'm converted over to car commuting. There were certainly things I liked about it- I listened to some podcasts, something I don't do while riding, and I felt like I benefited from the rest- but it wasn't life-changingly amazing. I think if I worked even closer and a few fewer hills away, the allure of car commuting would be even less. This map, which compares the relative time of walking vs. biking vs. transit vs. driving, more or less agrees, so that's good. But speed, while a major factor, certainly isn't the only one by which people can (and should) make commuting decisions and I think it's a mistake to assume that it is. 10 minutes faster, but at what cost? Anyway.