Sunday, July 6, 2008

dear commuters and your cars

Suck it. I don't mean to be crass here (OK, I do), but I can't help myself after reading this article from Saturday's Washington Post, in which dumbass commuters complain about the city of DC finally trying to make its streets more pedestrian and bike-friendly for -- wait for it -- THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE.

The District is escalating what some suburban commuters are calling its war against workers who drive into the city. The city has changed parts of Constitution Avenue NE from a reversible commuter artery back to a quiet side street and is considering removing the reversible lane on 16th Street NW, a key commuting route from Montgomery County.

That idea sounds awesome. Listen, I live on 16th Street. It's loud. Sure, the noise is sometimes attributable to the occasional shout/firework/gun shot (not necessarily all at the same time), but most of the time it's from traffic. Trust me, when you live a 15-minute bike ride from work, suffer from a slight case of insomnia and don't need to be in the office until 9 a.m. 10 a.m., it sucks to be awoken by a trillion suburbanites injecting themselves into the city to get to their sh*tty jobs at 7 a.m. 6 a.m. by utilizing that reversible lane on 16th Street.

The District is moving toward becoming "the most anti-car city in the country," said John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "They see commuters as the enemy."

While I think commuting is a big waste of time personally (I'd rather pay more for the luxury of being able to walk/bike anywhere I need to go than pay less and live in, say, Dale City), I don't see commuters as the enemy, per se. Their cars -- perhaps. But commuters themselves? Not if they're doing what most people do in the rest of the world, such as riding the damn commuter trains THAT WERE CONSTRUCTED ESPECIALLY FOR THEM with the other plebes.

And yes, I just called you all plebes. I'm a plebe. You're a plebe. Everyone's a plebe-plebe. Get over it. I don't care whether you drive a broke-down hatchback or a Bentley. If you're driving yourself in a motor vehicle and not commuting via helicopter, hovercraft or some other legitimately cool, non-traditional mode of transportation, you're a plebe and you need to learn to just deal with it. And therein lies the problem.

It seems so many of the people who commute via personal motor vehicle think they're entitled to drive like assholes on my roads. I realize I don't literally own 16th Street, but metaphorically, I do. I live here. You don't. I should be able to ride my damn bike up and down that bitch as much as I want to without worrying about some SUV with Maryland plates honking like an asshole while creeping up dangerously close to my sweet ass when I'm as far to the right as I can possibly get without physically peddling in the gutter and subsequently curbing myself. Not tight.

Improving pedestrian safety is a priority for the city. The District has higher pedestrian death rates than New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles, with 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Pedestrian injuries rose from 586 in 2000 to 725 in 2006. District officials said the city's broad avenues create wide expanses of asphalt that make it difficult or intimidating for pedestrians to cross.

Seriously. You, automobile commuter, need to step off ma'jock. Or get a job in Maryland. But let me ride dirty in peace on a road that doesn't double as a major highway every weekday at dawn and on one that doesn't cause me to fear for my slightly precious life while I'm out and about enjoying all the sites, establishments and violent crime that my inner city neighborhood has to offer.

Part of the city's new pedestrian plan would eliminate the reversible middle lane on 16th Street NW through Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights, pedestrian-heavy sections of the city. The city wants to turn the lane into a landscaped island that would serve as a refuge for pedestrians trying to cross the street.

Thank you, I would love a landscaped island. After failing in so many uniquely retarded ways, DC is finally doing something right, so please, you, your car and your silly "taxation with representation," shut the f*ck up.

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) said the city should be careful not to chase people away. Like the District, Old Town Alexandria would be a nicer place without all the cars, he said. But there is an economic component to be considered, he said, and people in cars represent customers for restaurants and shops.

"Because of the limitations of our rail and bus system, there are an awful lot of suburbanites who don't have access but are willing to spend lots of money in the District," Moran said. "They are dependent on suburban spending for their tax base."

He added: "DC could wind up as an island isolating themselves with these policies. Don't pray too hard for fear that all your prayers will be answered."

Uh-huh, right...The next time I see a rush of suburbanites trying to kick it at Burritos Fast or Don Juan's, maybe I'll indulge Moran in his opinion that it's self-important douches in SUVs from Maryland and Virginia who keep this city afloat. Until that day, however, I'm forced to just keep it real and end this exactly as I started it: Suck it. Or better yet, I'm going to organize a mass Segway tour around Old Town Alexandria. With babies. In double-wide strollers. Reciprocity is a bitch!



De in D.C. said...

That pic of the mom is truly retardulous. How much do you want to bet that she then turns around and spends $100/month on a fancy gym membership in order to keep her ass toned and perky?

Mary said...

Jim Moran is an asshat of the highest order - he got in trouble in the 90s for smacking some kid (not his own) in public and for some reason he's still in Congress.

The pic of that woman on the Segway MUST have been taken in VA - my guess is Arlington or Reston.

I-66 said...

Aren't we just talking about making traffic worse on Georgia Ave?

Christine in DC said...

Wow, Mary, that gives me new respect for Jim Moran! there have been many occasions I've stifled an urge to slap someone else's child.

I agree with all the commuters sucking it. Maybe if they could even, just, you know, use turn signals. Nothing irritates me more than getting dirty looks and annoyed acceleration after I have had the nerve to step off the curb when I have the right of way and try to cross the street.

Freewheel said...

Motorists hate cyclists because they're having too much fun. They're not trapped in a steel cage breathing their own fumes and listening to crap like Elliot in the morning.

Michael said...

I lived on Connecticut Avenue just below Military Road for 10 years. Ninety-nine percent of the cars had Maryland plates in the morning and evening rush. Which is only a slight bit of hyperbole. I abandoned D.C. for Silver Spring but sent my kid to school on 16th Street for four years and found the traffic there daunting as well.

So: allow parking on both sides of Connecticut 24/7, leaving one lane in both directions all the time. Same on 16th. That would cut traffic hugely. Why should D.C. residents be forced to juggle their parking for suburban commuters twice a day?

Or the city could alwys ask Marion Barry to direct traffic in person as part of his community service.

/s/Ex-Journalist & Silver Spring Sympathizer on the Red Line

Beach Bum said...

For 3.5 years I commuted by car to DC from Arlington, due to lack of options (much cheaper than taking the bus & metro, regardless of how high gas gets).

Now that my new job provides me with showers, lockers and secured bike racks, I've been biking to work. I've heard a lot of people calling me crazy for biking, god forbid, 11 miles each way (which is twice the distance of my commute if I was driving, by the way). I get my exercise in, I get to de-stress, and I pass all the cars in traffic on GW Parkway and I think "see ya, suckers!" (in the winter time I take the bus in, which stops in front of my building, and cheaper than the metro).

I'm glad DC is taking this stance. I heard Arlington is doing the same. Hopefully, that'll make more people carpool or commute by bikes as well.

Marissa said...


I would not doubt that assumption. Segways are ridiculous. Yet I still feel like I need to ride one someday to make my life complete.


Actually, I think the pic is from Australia, although I can't be certain. But I could see these kind of shambles going down around here fairly easily.


Well, I think the point is to slowly shut off the valves until it's so undesirable to commute via car that people will stop doing it.


Oh that non-turn-signal shit bugs the hell out of me. Seriously, it's not that hard to use. Drivers need to get it together.


Oh man...morning radio talk shows. Those are definitely the worst. "Hey, let's prank call Dunkin Donuts and order one million rainbow sprinkled doughnuts and see what happens! *add gratuitous sound effects*"


I would love to see MB out there directing traffic. I'm sure it might even be a fun activity while all hopped up on crack.

Marissa said...

beach bum--

Lead by example! I like it! I wish more people thought like you.

N said...

Can these district officials do something about the pedestrians who cross the street in the path of oncoming bikes? Sometimes I think the pedestrians are worse than the drivers.

aak said...

16th street is scary to bike on, particularly because of the SUVs. I'd love it if we could organize a bike takeover of that road: like, 100 bikers just take over the right lane one fine Monday morning. They can't mow down all of us.

Until then, I'm forced to go two blocks out of the way and make do with 14th Street. It's so much better, it's ridiculous.

Sky Walker said...

I'm not sure how I feel about DC residents - I know two. You seem cool but I hate to tell you - VA and MD DO float DC's economy along with the tourists (its too expensive to be a tourist and stay in DC).

So, there has to be a compromise - lots on the exterior boundaries or mandate some kind restrictions. But if DC wants to mess with the burbs - Congress and the hundred thousand commuters will find another place to invest (remember the meter debacle? - Congress holds DC balls with pursestrings)

I'm not a fan cyclists - find a bike path and stay off the streets - more safe for everyone here. I'm glad you've discovered a "green" option and you're "better" than us auto-riders but get off your high horse or else I'll pass very fast in my VA car (I'm kidding about the physical violence, I'll just sneer at you).

IMGoph said...

sky walker: i don't want to be a dick (honestly), but fuck off. it is entirely sane and legal for me to ride my bicycle on the street. great, you're not a fan of cyclists. you don't get everything you want in life. you sure as hell don't get to set the rules for everyone else just because you're not comfortable with the fact that bikers are your equals, not a target.

N: why is it that, every time there is a discussion about cars vs. bikes vs. pedestrians, there's always one person who brings up the one time they had to deal with a jaywalker. they automatically decide then that every pedestrian in the city is a lawbreaker who should be run over. the ratio of asshole pedestrians to good ones is quite different that the ratio of asshole drivers to the good ones....

Marissa said...


Agreed. I got called out the other day by someone for riding on the sidewalk (as not to get hit by a car, of course) -- "It's a sideWALK," he said. I just gave him the evilest eye I know how.


I LOVE that idea. Seriously. Let's take back at least one lane of our street.

sky walker--

As much as I'd like to keep all suburbanites out (tee-hee, j/k!), I know that's not possible. But why do you need to drive in? There are trains, buses and other forms of transportation that are, yes, more "green" (think of how nice LA would be without all the smog produced by vehicles) and more pleasant for the people who either choose, are born into or otherwise live in the city. We have the right to ride a bike/walk/hook in peace on our streets just as you have the right to ride a bike in peace in Arlington or Bethesda or wherever.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to ride dirty on a bike path or at least in a bike lane, but unfortunately, there are very few in this city.

It's really not a matter of being better (more economical, perhaps); it's a matter of being civilized. I'm not ramming into your car with my bike, I should expect the same out of you.

Moreover, major-highway-like streets should not be a part of an inner city. Five-lane streets are loud, dangerous and just plain ridiculous. Bring on the island!

Shannon said...

Marissa, I was all ready to swat at Sky Walker for you, but I think you've said everything I'd want to say.

One thing I will note is that it's illegal to bike on sidewalks in the downtown core -- every time I see someone illegally biking on the sidewalk, huffing that people won't get out of their way, I want to stick a foot in their spokes. So if you're sidewalk-biking downtown, please don't.

DC needs to take care of its own - the people who live, pay taxes, and raise their families here. I'm sick of our outrageously high pedestrian fatality rates, and I'm sick of nearly getting beaned (or merely getting honked at) by some twit with burb plates who can't believe I have the nerve to cross the street. Legally. In a crosswalk.

Oooh, and don't even get me started on the drivers who are stopped at a red light, and creep into the crosswalk inch by inch as I'm trying to cross. Are they debating running me over?

Drivers: every time you get behind the wheel, you could kill someone. That's a huge responsibility. Deal with it wisely.

N said...

impoph, Your argument would make more sense if a pedestrian walked out in front of me only one time. You may not want to be a dick, but you are one.

IMGoph said...

n: how many thousands of pedestrians that you've come across have obeyed the law, though? that's what i'm getting at. we're not all out there trying to jump in front of cars to get our kicks. just recognize that.

N said...

You are missing my point. They won't jump in front of cars, but they don't think twice about jumping in front on my bike.

IMGoph said...

n:gotcha. sorry about that. can we all agree on the original point of the post that suburban drivers are a scourge then? :)

N said...

Truce. Let's focus our venom on the suburban drivers.

Adam said...

"Everyone's a plebe plebe" Old MacDonald references! Holy shit, you've really outdone yourself this time. Well played.

Freewheel said...

I agree with Adam. This post is a classic.

maryjanejeff said...

I got honked at and stared down by a suburban driver for having the audacity of walking in a crosswalk when I had 15 seconds of Walk time on the meter or whatever so I could get my suburban because I can't afford anything else butt tot the Metro. I reget not flipping them off and proceeding to walk five times slower.

I ran up 16th Street once from U Street all the way to close to Carter Barron, hadn't been on that road in ages. Yup, it's a zoo 24/7 but at least I had good luck with crosswalk times.

Anonymous said...

Ahahah! Best post I've read all freakin' day. And you're right. Patrick and I are moving into DC, and yes, we're bringing our car with us but only because my job requires me to drop down to VA Beach on occasion and up to Baltimore.

Otherwise now, since we live in MD and commute to DC for work WE TAKE THE METRO. THE GARAGES ARE THERE FOR A REASON.

Jesus H-Christ. It's as if commuters have forgotten that people actually LIVE in DC. Asshats.

They're probably also the same assholes who stand on the left.

Sarah at Advancing the Plot said...

My greatest pleasure is screaming at drivers who impinge on the crosswalk when I am using it legally. We do have the right of way you know. Try it, it's sooo fun. You will immediately get their attention based on the deer-in-the-headlights stare. Most drivers are in another world when they are behind the wheel. It is so dangerous. One little bump from a car can cause some serious injuries.

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