Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Time to Rant


I've been traveling the DC beltway now for the past 2 months working on a project in Herndon, VA. At first the commute wasn't so bad, about an hour each way unless I roll out of bed late and then maybe 1:15. I leave by 2:30 to miss the afternoon rush hour. But lately , the beltway is just a cluster f&@$. It all started the day before Thanksgiving when a tanker truck blew up at the entrance to the beltway from 95. Since then there have been accidents almost daily. Last week it took me 3 hours to get into the office one day, the day after that it wasn't even worth trying so I worked from home.

When will people wake up and realize that the solution to traffic is not to increase the size of the roads? By the time the roads are expanded, they're beyond capacity. Mass transit is the only answer. Problem is, people in this country are so damned tied to their cars they'll never give up driving even as their commutes get longer and their quality of life goes further down the toilet. And lawmakers and government are helpless to address the issue. If they even try to promote mass transit as the solution to fixing the areas congestion, they would never get elected/re-elected to office.

Look at NYC today, people are walking, riding bikes and car pooling into the city. Unfortunately this is due to no mass transit, but the restrictions on vehicle occupancy coming into the city still forces alternatives. Image the reduction in pollution and strain on resources (not to mention the health benefit to an increasingly overweight society while reducing the strain on our already over-burdened health care system) that would come about from forcing people out of their cars.

Personally, I hope the price of gas in this country stays high and forces people to become more open to alternative modes of transportation and fuel sources. Too bad the American automotive industry screwed the pooch on that one. They've only had since the oil embargo of the 70's to get their shit together, now they're behind the 8-ball and paying heavy royalties to the Japanese to use their hybrid technology. Hopefully we can look forward to those SUV type tax incentives on hybrids soon, with GMC and Ford are headed for bankruptcy with the decline in SUV sales, they need every option to help them compete with a shrinking market, and I'm sure this administration couldn't bear to see a large American icon disappear on their watch.

Anyway, I made the 52 mile commute in my car this morning. As a consultant, it's unfortunate that I really don't have the option to commute by bike to work every day. Most of my work is in the DC/NoVA area and living outside of Baltimore does not really provide me with any viable alternatives to traveling that far without having to start my commute at 4 in the morning. If you ask me what my dream job is, it would be the one with a 20-30 min. bike commute.

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