Driving in Washington, DC is stressful, but with plenty of transportation options, it is easy to avoid. Here are 6 reasons not to drive in DC and tips for getting around the city and the capital region without a car.
Driving times are unpredictable throughout the region. Avoid driving in weekday rush hour traffic (from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.) and anytime on weekends during peak tourist seasons, especially during Cherry Blossom season and holiday weeks. When there is just a minor accident, the flow of traffic backs up on the Beltway for miles in either direction. In the city, there are pedestrians and bikers everywhere and drivers have to slow down to give them the right of way. Road construction is ongoing around the region and causes congestion and frustration for regular commuters.
Too Many Tourists and Bad Drivers
Since DC is a popular tourist destination and a transient residential area, there are always people driving around who don't know exactly where they're going. DC drivers have been consistently named among the worst drivers in the United States. With the use of GPS’s, cell phones and other electronic devices, many drivers are distracted and just plain stupid. The confusing layout of the city and poor street signage doesn’t help any. Local residents are often in a hurry and don’t use their turn signals.
Traffic Circles and One Way Streets Are Confusing
The city streets were designed by the French architect Pierre L'Enfant with diagonal "grand avenues" crossing circles and plazas allowing for green space throughout the city. No one knows how to drive around the circles! You can easily end up on the wrong street. In many areas, one-way streets make it difficult to make a left turn and you may have to drive several blocks out of the way. The street signs can be difficult to read and you can get lost easily. Many roads around the region mysteriously change their names as you cross intersections.
Parking Can Be Difficult to Find and Expensive
Street parking is limited near the most popular attractions in DC. There are plenty of parking garages in the Downtown area, but many neighborhoods have restricted parking. If you live in DC, you can easily walk, bike and use public transportation to get around the city. For occasional trips to the suburbs or weekend getaways, car sharing, taxis, and mobile app-based transit options are available.
Driving a car adds to air pollution. Combustion engines contribute to greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere and are deteriorating our environment. Walking, biking, and using public transportation are better options for sustaining the health of our community.
Regular exercise has great health benefits and can reduce stress. Capital Bikeshare offers an easy way to get around the city by allowing you to pick up a bike at one destination and drop it off at another. The program has made Washington one of the most bike-friendly cities in America.