Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Morning rush hour traffic on 14th is absolutely terrible all the time

14th and Irving Bokeh I'm getting totally fed up with 14th Street traffic. Usually I take the bus to work downtown, and it often takes 35+ plus minute on a good day. If my calculations are correct, that's about 4 miles an hour.

And lately, there has been gridlock along 14th, often from about Irving or Columbia to about Spring, which is insane -- that's almost 3/4 of a mile! That usually means other streets, like 13th and 11th, get backed up too.

Today, however, it was the worst. Traffic was backed up to at least Quincy Street, if not farther (I couldn't see that far,) so I decided to try a cab. The cab inched its way to 13th, which was gridlocked, then 11th, also packed, then Sherman, also packed, so we tried going to Georgia. All the side streets were mobbed too with people who had the same idea.

After getting stuck on Park I said screw it, just drop me off and I'll walk to the Metro. The guy apologized and gave me a deal (which was nice of him, it certainly wasn't his fault,) and I abandoned the cab and took the Metro. That means it took about an hour to get downtown from Columbia Heights.

It's ridiculous. I emailed Jim Graham a few times, who looped in DDOT, but the only response I got from that was DDOT's Aaron Rhones, who said "Thanks CM Graham. As you are aware, DDOT has made several signal modifications/adjustments to the Columbia Heights corridor post Streetscape Construction, with each adjustment being sensitive to the intended goal of Pedestrian Safety. I have looped in our Signal team to provide you with an update of the most recent adjustments."

That's nice, but not helpful. It's driving me crazy, and certainly makes our neighborhood less convenient (not to mention wasting tons of time.) I feel like it has to be something structural in the traffic lights or signals or something -- there has to be some way to fix it.

In the meantime, I'm taking the Metro and fixing my bike. It's ridiculous.

Photo by Mr. T in DC



  2. I think today's traffic is more indicative of the March/ April traffic intensity that hits us every year during this time rather than of a political figure that has no bearing on how many people flock to DC during this time. These contributing factors include Spring break/ School trips to the capital, Cherry blossom festival tourism, and idiots gaping at cherry blossom trees instead of watching the road and maintaining proper speed. OP is right about the traffic, but I dont think there is a solution for cherry blossom rubbernecking besides taking the metro.

  3. Anon, maybe, but I've been noting this for months. I first emailed Graham about it in December, so it was probably before that.

  4. They are doing roadwork on Sherman today, so all of the Maryland commuters got directed over onto other streets, plus cross-streets like Irving were re-directed around Sherman.

    I bike so I got to work in 10 minutes, as always.

  5. Not to mention the people who continuously double park in the area with zero consideration for others.

  6. WMATA is only worthwhile if it's consistent, which is rare outside of morning rush.

    I think it's due to traffic signals. DC is one of the few places I've ever been where traffic lights don't sync up. You go one block hit a light. Go another light. 12st is the only one in the city that has some semblance of this, but even that's bad. Also, there are few one way north south streets.

    Finally, cyclists, please follow traffic laws. Pedestrians press don't jaywalk at the intersection when it's not your turn.I wish police would ticket more.

  7. I live on 13th and I like the gridlock because its the only thing slowing down the speeders.

  8. If only all those other people would just get off the road!!

    But seriously, it's a city. Traffic is bad. We have Metrorail and bike lanes for a reason. As a regular pedestrian in the area, I much prefer 14th street's automobile congestion to the relatively barren 6+ lanes of 16th street.

  9. Today was a special case as a major water main break during the morning rush hour essentially shut down Connecticut up near the beltway - closing all but one lane. Traffic was redirected and a good majority of the traffic found its way through Columbia Heights.

    My advice - ride a bike. It's good for you.

  10. There are a few things working against traffic on 14th street. With sine simple fixes traffic could flow much freely. The expansion of the retail has invited more foot and bike traffic. The insistence on keeping street parking is counter intuitive and dangerous. In certain blocks you have heavy foot traffic AND a bike lane AND a bus stop AND merging traffic lanes. Its clearly impossible to navigate as a driver, and lanes bottleneck to allow three of four parking spots on the street. DC needs to grow up and start acting like a regular city, which has areas in which parking is simply not permitted. It would clear lanes, preserve the bike lane and allow buses to pull in curbside. When someone takes the time to parallel park, it causes all kinds of back ups and slow downs. Personally, I also think it is dangerous. Specific blocks need to be cleared of parking and allow traffic to flow at a normal pace. I'm worried what will happen as more renters with cars move into the neighborhood. We also have a fire station located two blocks from Super Target, where is an ambulance to go? It's unsustainable and creates hazards.

  11. Or you could just take the bus on 16th street like a rational person...or even better, get fired from your job!



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