Friday Question of the Day – How Do You Commute/Get Around Town?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric Spiegel

Yesterday I received a tweet about supporting a dedicated bus lane on 16th Street (I do and you can add your support here). Anyway, it got me thinking about how folks commute – we talked about this back in Jan. 2012 and I’m curious if the numbers have changed since then. At that time about 19% were by car, 31% by metro, 16% by bus, 15% by bike and 15% by walking.

85 Comment

  • I walk three miles downhill to work in the morning, and take metro home.
    Once I get home, I use my car to go pick up my children from school. School is also about three miles from home (but not convenient to PT). Daily errands are mostly done on foot, but I will metro downtown or to the mall for clothes, or drive to the store when I need to buy kitty litter.
    So really, it’s about equal parts walk, metro, drive.

  • gotryit

    Pick one only? I use multiple regularly.
    Mostly bike or bus/metro for work, car with the family. Waking always.

  • Add me to the multiple choice: bus to/from work, subway for longer cross-town trips (though usually not on weekends) and walking always.

  • One more multiple choicer. I usually walk if it’s around a mile or less. I take the Metro if it’s an option, and the bus, usually only if Metro is not an option. I rarely use a car — but it’s an option if it means multiple buses or somewhere that Metro doesn’t go. I could narrow it down to two — walking and Metro — but the poll won’t let me, so I abstain.

  • Usually get around using buses…I find using the nextbus app is more reliable than depending on metro but I also weigh my options using both. I usually end up checking both the nextbus/train to fit a faster commute to where I’m going. If neither is a viable option, I hop on capital bikeshare bike n bike til they are…. unless its uphill(U st to Columbia Heights via 14th st). I’ve walked that strip before a bus was able to make its way through rush hour traffic and pass me.

  • I am car free! My commute and daily errands are a combination of Metro, bus, own bike, bikeshare and walking.

  • I ride my bike or walk depending on the weather, how far I have to travel and if I’m travelling with anybody else. For the most part I’ve been car-free and nearly bus/metro free for 5 years now.

    • On an additional note, this is one of my most frustrating times of the year for commuting around town because I seem to always have family come in to town who are attached to their car….Going 5 blocks, they’re driving. Going to the cherry blossoms, they’re driving. At home, out of beer, need to head to store 2 blocks away, they’re driving. Can’t find parking, they bitch like crazy, blame me, wonder how I possibly live in this town, they find a spot, it clearly says no parking, they park their anyway and bet me that they won’t get ticketed.

      • Next time you visit them refuse to drive anywhere and complain about how terrible their public transit system is.

  • I take the Metro to and from work, but will walk around town if it’s less than 2 miles (and the weather’s decent; or 3 miles if the weather’s beautiful). I own a car but only use it if Metro or walking aren’t an option.

  • justinbc

    If we’re talking commute to/from work, then it’s usually by bus since my route picks up almost right at my door and drops off right at both of my offices. If I’ve gotten enough sleep the night before, and it’s not raining, I may bike in instead. For everyday stuff it’s almost always walking, unless it’s over a mile then we’ll bike together. If it’s more than about 3 miles, or for something large, we’ll take her car (I haven’t owned one since moving into the District). I actually rarely use the Metro rail, it’s usually only if we’re going somewhere over in NW and want to drink without having to worry about driving / biking home.

    • This is very similar to me – I take the Metro to work, but for everything else I generally walk or take the bus. Part of why I love living in Mt. Pleasant is the ability to have a ton of options on how to get around.

  • I commute one mile by bike, and I do groceries and other errands by bike as well. I do not have a car, and I avoid cabs and the metro like the plague (I’ll take them if I absolutely, positively have to take them!). Having two decent panniers on my bike has opened my world to all sorts of things that were not possible when I was just walking to the grocery store, etc… Love it!

  • There really needs to be a multi-modal option. Depending on the weather, I use bus or bikeshare to get to the metro in the morning, and the same home. Now that the weather’s getting nicer I ride my own bike to the metro early in the morning to work and bike all the way back (10mi). For weekend trips, if bus/metro is inconvenient to get to my destination my boyfriend drives us, but that’s rare if we’re actually in the city. For shorter trips to nearby restaurants and bars I walk. IT really depends on the convenience of the transportation mode at the time, the weather, and how I’m feeling that day. It’s nice to have options!

  • to/from work by metro (Takoma to Metro Center); to most friends’ homes mostly by bus; most shopping on foot unless I’m carrying lots of stuff in which case I’ll take the bus home.

  • Bike to Metro then take Metro to work. I’ve been working in DC for around eight year and have never driven to my job. I only drive in the city if I have to.

  • Depends where I need to go….if I can I prefer to walk despite owning a car (which I need to get to most places for work and groceries etc) but I won’t drive downtown so I use metro or bus.

    So I would select multiple choices or “most of the above” (:

  • + Multiple choice – Metro to/from work (live in Shaw; work at Navy Yard), but use a combo of walk, bus, bikeshare, Uber for everything else.

  • to work i drive. reverse commute, i drive to va
    otherwise i typically ride my bicycle. if not thati walk. had a motorcycle up until 3 weeks ago when i was hit and it is now totaled
    have a couple of months of therapy before i can get back on a motorcycle or bycicle though

  • Like many others, all of the above. I usually bike, if that doesn’t work then bus or metro (depending on where I’m going). I use my car about once a month to go visit family or go to Home Depot, etc.

  • Metro to see girlfriend near West Falls Church and for errands in Upper Northwest or Capitol Hill; Zipcar for contra dancing at Glen Echo; walking for everything else (no commute, as I’m retired).

  • I used the metro rail 100% of the time Monday through Friday afternoon. On Friday night through Sunday night I drive, 90% of time!

  • I am actually a little surprised so many people still take metrorail given that it is completely useless on the weekends and nearly so on week days.

    I rode it for years from Columbia Heights to my job in Rosslyn. Absolute best case scenario using metro to get to work was 40 minutes (leaving the house at 7:15am). Thats 30 minutes on the green and orange/blue line, wiating no longer than 2 minutes to transfer and and 5 minutes walk on either side. I drive it in 12 to 15 minutes.

    But I was riding one day and I realized I hadn’t had a solid week of trouble free commutes on metrorail in well over a year. There was always something mechanical on one of the two lines. Not a week would go by where it wouldn’t take mean hour or more to make the trip, so I gave it up and couldn’t be happier.

    I already owned the car, so that was a sunk expense and my share of the my parking is $100 a month, which is almost exactly what I was spending on metrofare to work anyway.

    • curious as to your preferred route from cohi to rosslyn?

    • For what it’s worth, I used to commute Adams Morgan > Rosslyn, and after a LOT of experimentation, my favorite commute became riding my bike down to Farragut West, locking it up near there for the day, and taking the metro across the river.

      Only downside was that bike ride back up the hill at the end of the day, but, it wasn’t as bad as I feared. A few minutes of heavy pedaling.

    • I take metrorail on several weekdays and often on the weekends. It is far from useless. Maybe I’m just the luckiest guy in the whole wide world but it’s very rare that I encounter significant delays or other issues. Of course I expect to wait longer for a train on the weekend.

    • gotryit

      Metrorail is useless? Frustrating sometimes, but very useful to a lot of people.
      The green line is by far the fastest way to get me between NW and SE. While there are occasional delays, they’re far less severe than the frequent traffic delays at rush hour.

    • I also disagree that metrorail is useless – aside from driving, which is a nightmare situation and not necessary for this commute, it’s really the only way to make the last leg of the trip into Rosslyn.
      For my Columbia Heights to Rosslyn commute, I take the 50 buses down 14th to McPherson and then metro over. It usually takes me under 30 minutes, up to 40 on rare occasions. Taking only metro and transferring at L’Enfant definitely takes longer. The only alternative that makes more sense than bus + metro for this commute would be biking + metro, but I don’t like biking during rush hour.

      • I gotta call BS. I looked it up on Metros trip planner, and it takes a 50s bus 24 minutes to go from Cohi metro to McPherson Sq, then another 8 minutes on metrod rail.

        So you have, an absolute best case scenario of 32 minutes of travel time, with zero delays, and zero time waiting for buses, transferring to rail, waiting for trains etc which obviously never happens.

        To drive, it’s Park to Porter, to Beach Drive to RCP to the bridge.

        • Well I’m not making it up – I walk out my door between 7:30 and 7:35, and am usually walking into my office at 8 or a few minutes after. I get on a bit south of the CoHi metro, so that eliminates a small bit of time from your calculation. Also, since when are we assuming WMATA’s Trip Planner is accurate? I very rarely find that to be the case.
          It does depend slightly on which 50 bus – if you’re on the 53 to McPherson, it takes a couple minutes longer as you either need to walk an extra block to the metro or wait for the bus to go around the square.

  • 90% of the time I either walk or take the Metro. The other 10%, my 1995 Ford Contour does the trick.

  • Becks

    I usually take two buses and a train to work. On weekends I use the Metro with the occasional bus. I love living in Columbia Heights since I am able to walk to just about everything.

  • For commuting to work (including, and particularly on the weekend), I gave up on Metro and now bike.
    For going into the city, I take the metro, but only if my trip is not impacted by track maintenance/single tracking. For this reason I rarely connect from the Red Line to another.

  • What about people who mix it up?

    I’m a mix of bus or Bikeshare myself, depending on weather and other factors.

  • This would also be a fun quiz if we could break it up into work, errands, and play choices. For work, I used to take the bus to metro rail (or walk to the metro stop in nicer weather), but got annoyed with the Red line delays and now drive to work most days. I like to support public transportation, but driving cuts my commute in half, and I get free parking. And I’m pretty annoyed with WMATA’s management, so I’ve voted with my feet when it comes to commuting. For errands, like grocery shopping, we typically use the car. For play, we typically walk under 2 miles in nice weather, or take the bus, or drive (less driving in the warmer months). We’ve also been using Uber and UberX in the cold, which are great. We’re getting bikes soon, so I’m hoping that will cut down on the car usage for errands and going out. Can anyone recommend good panniers?

    • justinbc

      Yeah, given that almost every day here there’s a post of a photo of a bunch of people standing in a random Red line tunnel there’s no way I would ever trust that as my main method of transportation. I would rather sit on a bus that takes 20 minutes than a Metro ride that possibly takes 10, but could take an hour, and have me packed in like sardines with constantly broken AC.

    • Ortlieb makes the best panniers, period. REI often has them on sale.

      • +1
        i have an ortlieb messenger bag (the local version they did with durkl) and have friends that have their panniers
        they are great. zero complaints

      • gotryit

        +1 I’ve been abusing my Ortleib panniers for about 5 years now. They hold up great and keep my work clothes dry when its raining. By abuse, that includes filling the bags with groceries or cans of paint from home depot to the point where I can barely carry the bike up the porch.

        • OP from 9:33 am above. Thanks for the panniers recommendations! Looking forward to trying them out!

    • I’m a big fan of my Detours panniers (also sold at REI). Mine are subjected to a good amount of use, enduring a M-F commute in all kinds of weather and holding absurd amounts of groceries on the weekends. They look good and more importantly, hold up well.

  • Another combo here. Don’t own a car so mostly metro, walk and bus, or car share (weekends).

  • Live in Glover Park, work in Crystal City so I drive. The bus and metro often give me anxiety (like..actual panic attacks not just ‘omg this is annoying’), especially if I’m riding alone but I’m working on it and I’m trying to use it more. Now that it’s getting nicer I’m hoping to bike more when I’m going someplace other than work.

  • Bike everyday all year all weather. Metro rarely and often with my bike on the train. Zipcar for moving heavy items and lots of walking.

  • Fun Q! I wish I could have answered “(Almost) All of the above”! I answered “walking” because that’s what I did today, but, really every commute is a choose-your-own-adventure for me. In the past month I have:

    1. Walked (35 min)
    2. Bussed (combined with walking halfway, about 25 min)
    3. Rode my own bike (16 min! Can’t wait to get back to this.)
    4. Borrowed my husband’s bikeshare because I only wanted to bike one way (16 min)
    5. Gotten a ride from my husband, who drives (20 min)

    Just depends on the weather, my mood, and how much time I have. With the improving weather, though, I’m going to try to exclusively walk or bike.

  • Multiply methods depending on what I’m doing: walk, bus, metro to work. Uber on the weekends (mostly home after a night out). I almost never cab but I have one two many bad experiences with cabs.

    I would really like to get a bike but I haven’t had one since mine was stolen in college 10 years ago. Anyone have a suggestion on a good commuter bike? I would like something that I can take to the grocery store, so something that is basket friendly. I’m not trying to enter the tour de France here, lol. Also, anyone else bike down 11th Street? Easy ride? I’m always afraid a bus is going to hit one of the bike riders . . . I haven’t seen it happen yet but it makes me nervous.

    • lol, multitasking made that first paragraph a little unreadable.

    • I bike down 11th street (prefer it to 14th – which always seems busier).

    • gotryit

      I love biking on 11th street. I’ll do that if I’m in work clothes and don’t want to push it too hard. Follow traffic signs (stop at stop signs and lights) and keep an eye on cars / buses in front of you (ride defensively).

      • They set up stop sign “traps” on 11th street and stop bikers occasionally so beware.

        • Stop sign “traps,” eh? They bring out a temporary stop sign and plant it on a corner where there’s no permanent one, just to entrap an unsuspecting cyclist? Come on.
          What Gotryit said — follow traffic signs.

  • Walk for work and just about everything else. I love it. I’m from the Midwest and hate driving, so D.C.’s walkability is a big bonus. We do own a car and drive it occasionally on weekends. Sometimes bus/cab/Uber; rarely Metro.

  • I usually bus on the S line Shitshow or I can walk a few miles. Don’t have a car, so its a combo of getting everywhere else.

  • I bike to/from work when it is not raining and not too cold – otherwise metro/bus. For other things it depends on where it is and what mode of transportation is easier – car, bike, walk, metro/bus, or motorcycle.

  • Bikeshare. All day everyday. Live at Florida and Rhode Island, office is at Connecticut and M. 10-12 minutes door to door.

  • I’m also multiple choice, bus to work, walk home, ride my bike or cabi and use bus on the weekends. The car is used to volunteer a couple of times a month, large shopping trips, and to get the bike out into the country for rides.

  • Bike 1+ mile to and from work.
    Walk to bars/restaurants at night/weekend.
    Bus to georgetown/bloomingdale (basically farthest i go outside of logan circle)
    Metro ONLY as last option (to RFK, for example)
    DRIVE probably 3-4 times a week. I actually LOVE that you can drive in this city. Even if its just a few blocks, i can make a big target/grocery store trip without thinking about fitting things in a backpack/on my bike/etc.

    Love that this city has so many options to get around!

  • Chalk another up for all of the above.
    I drive for most errands that I have to run (no grocery store within a mile), generally take the bus when going out for social purposes, and metro some of the time. (No commute right now)

    I will walk if the weather is decent and it is less than a mile and a half or so.

  • Like many others, I walk or bike to work, depending on the weather. I have a car, but I really just use it to get groceries or run errands. I used to have to drive every day and fill up the tank every week, now I really only have to get gas once a month and its great.

  • I’m a walker/bus rider for my commute (depending on the weather) and also for getting around the city. I find the bus to be fairly reliable and it goes everywhere. I use my car for occasional trips to Target or for getting out of the city for hiking and weekend adventures. I hardly ever take the Metro.

  • Most days – walk 3/4 mile downhill to the bus, take the bus to work (another mile). But on the few days we have between winter and ungodly heat, when the weather is actually nice, I’ll walk all the way!

  • brookland_rez

    Going to work/anywhere downtown? My motorcycle if the weather is nice, Metro if it is not. Joy riding around the city popping wheelies, scaring tourists and making people’s dogs bark? The motorcycle. Going to Home Depot to get stuff? My truck.

    • left hander got me 3 weeks ago…
      totaled the r1 (rip to my baby)
      shattered elbow (had sugery) broken wrist
      hit & run to make it all the better

      • brookland_rez

        Sorry to hear that. Did you have an armored jacket on? That should have protected your elbow, no?

        • Had all my racing gear on but the jacket
          i had my cold weather jacket on since it was chilly and instead of hard armor it has softer padding in the elbow
          so it was protected but not by the hard armor my other jackets have

          blew open my full length astar racing boots too

          • brookland_rez

            My winter jacket is an Astars with minimal perforations and a liner. I layer up under it with thermals. That’s enough to keep me warm (I rode to work that one morning when it was nearly zero) and keep me protected. The only non-riding gear I wear in the winter is a pair of battery powered heated gloves.
            The worst accident I have been in was with a deer at 65mph. I had one piece Astars suit on with full armor and I walked away without a scratch. Obviously every accident is unique, but I was quite impressed (and thankful) with how my gear held up.

    • oh good, another topic where brookland_rez gets to talk about his friggin’ motorcycle and continue his alpha male mythologizing.

  • Definitely a mix based on seasons and weather for the most part.

    If it’s not raining and there is no ice on the roads I will bike pretty much anywhere in the District. My commute (Petworth to West End) can be accomplished in 20 minutes or less. In pleasant weather I walk a lot–especially places under 2 miles.

    For big grocery shops or hardware store runs (every 2 weeks or so) I’ll drive. I will also drive occasionally in the winter if I’m going somewhere on the weekend because the weather makes biking less pleasant. In the summer we pretty much only drive if we are heading out of town.

    Bus–sometimes, if one is convenient. Typically I just walk as it’s almost as fast in traffic. Metro–rarely to never. I live 4 blocks from the station, but transferring green to red during rush hour is a nightmare and I have too many early morning commitments at work to risk constantly being late.

  • Now that it’s getting warmer, I drive my scooter to go everywhere.
    During the colder months, I’d do a mix of Metro (to commute to work), walking, and car2go for late night jaunts or avoiding crappy weather. I still use car2go if I’ll be drinking that night to drive to my destination and then take a cab back home.

  • On a good day, I walk to and from work. If I’m running late, the weather’s really bad or I just don’t feel up to it, I’ll take a cab. I’m trying to take buses and Metro more for errands and running around town, but if I’m coming home late at night I almost always take a cab for safety.

  • I saved up my whole life to buy my car and my townhouse in PG, so no way am I gonna stand for anyone making a different choice. (Actuaries say I have about ten more years of driving ahead of me.)

  • My work is 1.1 miles from home, and depending on the circumstances I might bike, drive, get a ride with my girlfriend, take my office shuttle, take a metro bus, or take the circulator. Usually I walk though.

    • And aside from the commute, I usually walk to anything that’s within a couple miles. I metro to stuff that’s a little further west and not served by the 90 buses, like foggy bottom. The 90 buses are super convenient and I use them to get to places like U Street, Logan Circle, and Adams Morgan. The car is mostly used for large grocery shopping, trips the the suburbs, and a few places in DC like the national arboretum. And I use Uber late at night or if I’m traveling with other people.

  • Bike (owned) most of the time. Car2go if i am lazy. Metro if the weather sucks or if i am going out for the night. Capitol Bikeshare if the weather doesn’t suck one-way home or if i need to do errands. Running if i need to get a run in.

  • I usually walk, bus and metro to work. On the weekends I only drive when I’m headed out of the city or sometimes when I go grocery shopping.

  • To work: either Metro to Gallery Place, walk 1.25(ish) miles to work in SW or bikeshare
    Otherwise: If I’m going somewhere that’s 1-1.5 miles away will walk. Otherwise, Metro, bike or bus. I do have a car but drive only as a last resort.

  • I metro and walk. I am fortunate enough to live in takoma, DC close to the border of MD. So I can walk to old Takoma Park, and Downtown Silver Spring pretty easily. I metro downtown to work. As I have gotten older (in my thirties), the more I want what Takoma/Silver Spring offers, as supposed to DC’s late night downtown.
    I keep realizing how damn lucky I am that we bought this place.

    I only drive for big grocery trips.

  • I actually use 5 of the 6 methods listed. Too bad you can’t pick multiple options for this poll.

  • I’m an H Street/Cap Hill resident. I generally prefer bus to get to work, but as the weather warms up, the traffic gets much worse, especially along K Street, so I take the Metro train then. But the bus is the only way for me to get to work without a transfer, and when the Red Line is misbehaving (i.e. every other day), it’s much more reliable. On weekends the bus is also often faster, especially if there is track work.

    I think more express buses would help, like a Circulator but one that that would run parallel to major streets and have very few stops. As the center of the city becomes more unaffordable for many people, riders within DC may face longer commutes.

  • I live in Mt. Pleasant and walk to Metro for my commute (Columbia Heights to L’Enfant Plaza). I use walking/bus/Metro for everything else, depending on time/distance, weather and track work, with walking as my strong preference. On a nice weekend day, I like to walk from my house through Georgetown, to the E Street Theater or to the museums on the Mall.

  • Where’s the “run” option? That’s how I commute several days a week. Bus/metro otherwise.

  • I have to drive to and from work in MD. Once I’m home however, 90% of my transpo around town is by bike. The other 10% is metro rail or walking.

  • saf

    It all depends on where I am going. I have a car, a motorcycle, a bikeshare membership, a smarttrip card, and feet.

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