• TGEoA

    It’s a perfect day for driving. The roads will have fewer cars

  • charlie

    Reading this and texting ….
    Until Arlington has more density a car will be a necessary evil.

    • NPGMBR

      Arlington has well enough density. The problem is Metro availability and reliability. Until we get Metro right; people will always choose to stay in their cars.

      I take MetroBus to work and every single day my bus is either late or does not show at all so the bus is always packed. How is this even possible when the line starts just a mile from my stop on Columbia Pike where traffic is light at 730am?

      I tried relying on Metro. For two years I lived without a car but decided that Metro required far too much planning and required far more time to complete even the most necessary tasks so eight years ago I bought a new car. Metro gets in the way of getting people to commit to it.

  • Dave

    If I worked in Arlington, sure, I’d definitely consider going without a car. But I work in western Fairfax County, and suburbia is just not designed for public transportation.

  • Stacey

    I have to drop a kid off at daycare, then make my way to Fairfax County- non metro accessible location. Unfortunately there is no way to do that on foot, on a bike, or via train. Not interested in spending 2 hrs on buses when I can drive in 30 minutes.

  • ArlRes

    Car. I would bike to work if my employer had shower facilities.

    • ArlRes

      I’d bike to work probably 2-3 times a week. I see some of my co-workers do it – but the commute is uphill on the way there — can’t come in drenched.

  • Skeptical

    Exhorting people to “go on a car free diet” or the like, in advance of public transit and area-wide planning that really truly elimniates the need for a car, is empty cheerleading. And I say that as someone who drives fewer miles in a year than most people do in a month.

    One of my friends took a job that he could bike to — then got transferred to the “other” corporate location half way around the Beltway. Another, who was able to jog to work, finds that the geniuses in charge of her trade association moved its offices from central Arlington out past Seven Corners to a howling wilderness of concrete. The idea of trying to grocery shop for a household without a car, if you don’t live right on the Orange Line corridor, is fairly laughable. (You can reach a grocery on foot from where I live, but it’s one that needs to be burned to the ground by the Board of Health.)

    It doesn’t have to be this way, but for fifty years employers and developers have been proceeding as if every human were born with a car attached, and we need a little more serious effort in the reverse direction before we can ask people with a straight face to “go car free.”

    • SD

      You must live near “dirty Safeway”

      • Skeptical

        nope… not even a chain market. It’s creepy to know there are two groceries nearby with that rep.

  • Rover

    Ride the bike paths in Fairfax County. They are in horrible shape, and there is little budget allocated to them each year for upkeep much less expansion. Prince William paths are a bit newer, but there are fewer of them. Oh, both paths stop near the county line so there is no way to avoid heavy car traffic crossing the county line. Drivers are not looking for you at all and are very distracted with being late, texting, putting on make-up, or reading the newspaper(!) while driving! If you have a death wish in Fairfax, PW, or other outer burbs go ahead and ride your bike on the road at rush hour. Until we stop building houses without road, path, and mass transit infrastructure we are doomed.

  • Torn

    The little angel on my shoulder says I should practice getting by without the car since the day is coming soon that driving will be unaffordable for all but the very wealthy (unless price controls are used, in which case the lines at the stations and the shortages would be pretty painful) – but the devil on my other shoulder says I should drive as much as possible now while I can since driving is so much fun ! Vrooooom !

  • G

    Traffic was extremely heavy during my run to work this morning. I regularly bike or run 2.5 miles to work (lucky me we have showers and a locker room). I regularly beat the bus that leaves from my condo even if it leaves before me and I often run with the same car the whole way.

  • RestonRunner86

    I’ll admit it. I COULD take a bus to my McLean (Tysons Corner neighborhood) office from my Reston home, but I drive. Do I like to feel so socially irresponsible? No. Do I feel guilty? Yes. However, it would cost me more AND take me much more time to get to work by taking the bus as opposed to just driving, and I’m not in the position of having enough spare cash or free time to invest more of both just to say, smugly, “I’m part of the solution.” Look down on me for this if you’d like.

    I feel the same way about these people who pay huge premiums to live in LEED-certified and otherwise “green” condo/apartment buildings who look down on others for not doing the same. Some of us would love to be as green as possible but can’t always AFFORD to. The Crescent, near the East Falls Church Metrorail station, is a prime example of this, with 1-BR rents starting around $2,000/month because they are “green” and very little else. Good for you that you’re wealthy and can afford this. Not all of us are. I’d love to buy a Prius as my next car. Can I afford to? No. What I’ve noticed in Arlington are a lot of people claiming to be “ahead of the curve” who look down on others, sometimes harshly, for not following the examples they lead while also not realizing (or caring) that not everyone can AFFORD to. I want to do everything in my power to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible. Until I secure my second job and move to Arlington vs. my current Fairfax County that will be nearly impossible for me to do. Being “green” is still very much a luxury. I do my part by taking short showers, unplugging unused items, and easing up off the accelerator to conserve fuel. I use reusable shopping bags. I’m weaning myself off bottled water in favor of a thermos. What else do you expect we non-affluent peons to do?

    • non-affluent peon

      Ahem, I am a mother of three – two school-aged, one infant – working full time out of the home and I don’t own a car. I earn less than half a six figure income, I live in a small apartment in north Arlington County, (not much smaller than I’d be able afford in Fairfax or any other DC metro area county) and I’m about a mile from the closest Metro stations. We bike, walk, take bus and transit and when we have to, ZipCar. We also eat fruits and veggies from the farmer’s markets and grocery shop by bike or delivery, depending on the week and the need. My kids attend excellent schools and we have access to everything any car-dependent family of five has.

      I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that green living is only for the affluent. You think that because you’ve talked yourself into believing that you can justify your lifestyle choices based on what suits your needs. If most people spent half as much time with an open mind and a solution-oriented focus that takes the health and livability of the entire community in mind, as they do defending and justifying their short-term gain decisions, we’d all be better off.

      Mind you, I have not said it’s super easy to live car-free as a mother of three earning half a six figure income in north Arlington County, but to say it’s *impossible* is absolutely false.

      • RestonRunner86

        You and I earn similar salaries (myself possibly slightly less). I find it difficult to comprehend how you are able to comfortably afford a (presumably) 3-BR apartment for you and your three children (and whomever the fifth in your family happens to be, as I’m not making assumptions) in an expensive area like North Arlington when I’m going to be “tight” myself financially just trying to rent a 1-BR in North Arlington next year on the same salary. “Lifestyle choices?” Have you been to the boonies of Fairfax County as of late? Nearly everyone owns a vehicle out of necessity. It’s a 45-minute walk for me to access the nearest grocery store due to Reston’s poor urban planning. The reason why I’m yearning to move to Arlington is so that I CAN, ultimately, lead a “greener” existence. How can I bike to work if there are no shower facilities available here? I can’t put on my tie and be a sweat-soaked mess. Why take the bus when it is more expensive AND takes much longer in my personal circumstance? Reston still doesn’t have Metro-accessibility due to idiotic planning.

        My main jab is directed at those who can afford to drive hybrids and live in “green”-certified buildings who think they are “better” than those who don’t, and, believe me, I’ve been judged by several. In order to drive a newer hybrid and live in an apartment in one of these newer “green” facilities one would have to be earning roughly $80,000 – $100,000 (or more) to not be overextending themselves. How many 23-year-olds do you know who earn those types of salaries? I’m sorry to be such a skeptic, but if you’re earning “less than half a six-figure income” (let’s assume, perhaps, $48,000), then how DO you afford a 3-BR apartment (let’s assume at least $1,800/month) in North Arlington, necessities for a family of five, etc. in a county oriented towards households that earn twice as much? $48,000 gross is perhaps $2,600/month NET. Do you mean to tell me you can spend well over 50% of your NET monthly income on rent and STILL live comfortably while making “green” choices for a family of five? It just doesn’t seem possible unless you’re being subsidized somehow.

        You claim to shop at farmers’ markets (as do I, but the produce in my experience is almost always considerably more expensive). You also claim to on occasion order groceries via a delivery service (also expensive). I just don’t quite see how you, as a family of five, can comfortably support a lifestyle like that on a $48,000 salary when I earn roughly the same, and it’s tough.

        • non-affluent peon

          I get the feeling you don’t really believe me, so I’ll give enough info but only to prove my point.

          I live in a 900 sq ft 2BR apartment. We’re cramped – remember, I didn’t say it was easy. Also, I shop for fruits and veggie at the farmer’s market buying only what’s in season because my children’s long term health is far more important to me than the short term benefits I can earn by feeding them otherwise. Again, it’s not easy. I choose to live here because of the schools, which are excellent, but again, it’s expensive. Yes, I spend more on rent than I ought to according to any economic advisor but it’s an investment in my kids.

          However, I spend about 30 minutes a day (minimum – I also bike to all meetings) commuting by bike including a 20 minute walk with one child to school. This offsets the over an hour I’d spend in a car to drive from a place where housing costs are lower (not to mention the child care costs). I have groceries delivered when I need to and plan it out so that it makes the most sense (Some stores have less expensive delivery rates the further out you push the delivery. I know what we eat, how much and when – I can do that.) But most of the time I bike to the grocery. The choice to have my goods delivered on occasion has more to do with my desire to avoid taking my kids to the grocery than it does anything else since my baby and the grocery just don’t seem to mix. So the nominal amount I pay for one delivery a month (on average) more than offsets the cost of gas I’d pay to drive each time, or the cost of transit.

          I don’t go out, I only spend on bare necessities and enjoy the tremendous benefits of living in an area with so many amazing entertainment options that are free. We also don’t have a TV and there is zero conspicuous consumption in our household. My extras go toward allowance for my girls (which is via a pre-paid debit card managed online so they can learn to manage money themselves) and school activities for them so that enrichment comes in the form of interacting with kids in their school community. Imagine that. They don’t get chauffered all over the region for stuff, so again, our transportation costs are nil.

          I simply believe it’s all about what you choose to make a priority in your life and the perspective you take on what is important now versus later. I believe this when it comes to land use planning, transportation planning, transportation choices, housing choices, school choices, food, you name it. Again, I reiterate, it’s not easy for us, but every choice I make is modeling for my kids the type of choices I hope they’ll make. That is my most important job – I’m raising three people whom I hope will grow up to be responsible citizens who think beyond themselves.

          I guess I take that sense of maternal sacrifice to the nth degree and apply it to the larger community and I guess I just wish more people thought that way. I’m glad you’re making the choice to move and I’m sorry I picked on you, since you’re likely my ally.

          As for biking to work and the fear of getting sweaty, well, here’s another soap box. Get over it, professional workplace people. I so so so wish it was socially unacceptable to arrive to work with a perfect coif and that new car scent on you. There are so many solutions to biking to work and still being presentable and professional, but they start with the fact that the paradigm shift needs to be made so that it’s cooler to use your own human power than it is to arrive via means that you probably paid too much for, probably still owe for and probably uses up way too much of our precious, finite fossil fuels to get you there. Keep some clothes at work, bike slowly, use baby wipes to freshen up and a cool towel if necessary. Keep deoderant and other toiletries in your file cabinet if you have to. But for pete’s sake don’t perpetuate the myth that you can’t be professional and ride a bike.

          But, I shouldn’t be so hard on you. You’re trying, so please forgive my frustration. I’m trying, too, in my own way. Trying to raise kids who don’t grow up thinking that driving a Prius and buying organic at Whole Foods somehow absolves them of trying harder to genuinely make a change. There’s going green because it’s the new black, and then there’s going green because it’s just the right thing to do. I think we both agree on that. Best of luck to you!

      • Skeptical

        If you work out of your home — and I have experience with that — you can get away without a car MUCH more easily. You can maneuver your errands more easily and you experience less time pressure, even though people who think “work out of your home” means a a life of leisure need a big thump on the head. It’s a solution I wish more people would embrace. I’d love to see more rebels refusing to play the game of “get a job, commute, spend your work day in an airless resource-hogging office building.” But, as with car-freeness itself, just telling people to do that won’t wash for many people whose personal situation or occupation won’t permit that. (At present. The business model needs to change, for one thing. One critical prize of health care reform was detaching affordable health insurance from employment; we need to examine the many other disincentives to self employment and/or home based work.)

        • RestonRunner86

          90% of my work can be done at home via telework as well, so I can definitely understand your point. The need to be physically present other than to just have a supervisor see your face and watch you work is non-existent otherwise.

  • Banksy

    I’m one of those lucky Arlingtonians for whom driving to work would take longer than taking Metro. Sure, there are days when Metro is f***ed up, and it takes me twice as long, but those days are rare enough that I still opt for Metro. Metro is still cheaper and less aggravating than driving for me.

  • Zack

    Riding bikes is a great way to go. I’m very fortunate that I have both Arlington bike trails to work AND a gym in my building with showers. I’ll admit however, that without those two things, it would be another matter.


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