A Complete Transit Policy.

Peter Blanchard, via Creative Commons.

cross-posted from TAPPED.

I moved to D.C. for my current job from Connecticut, where I was a reporter for a daily newspaper. The demands of both my job and living in a suburban city dictated that I buy a car. My costs and frustrations went up, my fitness level went down. When looking for housing in D.C., my top criteria was that I would be able to walk to work and ditch the car. Apparently, I’m not alone. As  Matthew Yglesias noted about a little nugget in David Brooks‘ column that promoted marriage, the thing that makes people least happy is their commute.

So it’s a relief that Ray LaHood, our transportation secretary, understands there are more ways to get around than driving. In his Q&A yesterday with The New York Times, he said he was just responding to Americans’ desires for alternatives when he called for plans for bikers and walkers to be given the same consideration as plans for drivers.

Sure, the plans aren’t quite the “sea change” he characterized when he first began talking about what the plan would include. But the nicest thing about this administration is how much they recognize where policies should connect and the way housing and transportation should work together.

[A]s we develop our livable and sustainable communities program, biking and walking paths will be a major component of it. And they will get some significant dollars.

Communities that make it safe for people to bike or walk to work are safer (because bike lanes and sidewalks can help calm traffic) and cheaper places to live. People who bike or walk to work are doing good things for their health. And all of that addresses a lot of problems at once.

  • I feel ‘ya Quad – I rode my bike to work evryday before my son was born. I’m lucky that I work for a city that will PAY you to commute by alternative means, has parking for bikes, and changing rooms w/showers.

    My commute switched up – having to alternate school run days with my wife when she was going to college at night. Now that she’s graduated and that is not an issue, my only excuse is sloth. I need to get back my bike – the 5 to 7 lbs I need to drop would melt in a month…

    • quadmoniker

      Yeah, it’s also just really nice to enjoy the trip to work.

  • quad, i think your totally right, but i think this is more a question of transportation culture. look at the netherlands or finland (i think its them) and how the country as a whole does transportation without cars. americans as a whole have a crazy car culture, and taken together with housing prices and suburban living means that there is a lot of inertia about this stuff, if not outright hostitlity (who needs a bike when you can DRIVE?!). i just dont hear a grounsdwell amongst the majority of dcs residents (the ones who dont live around NW and gtown). please tell me that im wrong.

  • blackink12

    You’re all over this one, Quad.

    I spend two hours a day in my car (one hour to work, one back home) and the commute is slowly grinding my soul to dust. When gas was nearly $4 a gallon a couple years ago, I was paying nearly $400 a month for fuel.

    Not to mention, that sort of commute makes doing anything else outside of work a total hassle.

    One of my top priorities for any move that comes after this is proximity to work and play. And, if I can help it, I’d love to choose a city with a strong public transit system.

    • $400 a month? gotdamn.

  • ironically, as you may know, the proximity of a metro station can seriously impact the cost of a home or apartment. but if i worked inside the beltway, in the city, especially, i’d do my best to drive only for pleasure.